The Dolomites in Belluno are rich in beliefs, myths, and legends, often as stories told, handed down from generation to generation sometimes only in dialect. Whether they are about imaginary characters, animals, princesses, goblins, rulers, witches, or gnomes, these mysterious stories bear witness to an immense cultural heritage, a world in which magic, nature and reality come together. They tell us about a unique culture and tradition peculiar only to the rural people of the Belluno mountains.
"The mysterious mountains, the long winters, the fairy tales, the spirits of the caves and forests, that untranslatable sense of remoteness, loneliness and legend."
Narratives inspired by the Belluno landscape: forests, meadows, lakes, and peaks that over the centuries, mountain people have redesigned with imagination. That imagination that hard life did not grant in reality but served precisely to deal with it.
Why are the Dolomites called "the Pale Mountains" if they turn pink?
Every day, the show on the Dolomites repeats itself: at sunrise and sunset, the pale rocks of the mountains are tinged with a thousand shades of pink, red, and orange, all the way to purple. It is a phenomenon called Alpenglow that colours the Pale Mountains.
Of course, there is a scientific explanation related to the rock these stone giants consist of, but it is the magic we want to talk to you about here. We would like to tell you about two of the most famous legends of the Dolomites that precisely explain their peculiar colouring.
The Moon Princess and the Pale Mountains
You may have heard the Dolomites referred to as the "Pale Mountains," and looking at their softly coloured rocks it is easy to see why. But you should know that it was not always so....
Once upon a time, there was a young prince who lived in the valleys of the Dolomites. At that time the Dolomites were not as we see them today; their walls were dark and covered with meadows and forests.
The young man was unhappy because he longed to go to the moon, that magical place he lay awake contemplating every night.
One day the prince got lost in the woods and fell asleep in a large meadow covered in rhododendrons. He dreamed about a beautiful maiden who told him she was the daughter of the King of the Moon. When he awoke, he heard voices in the distance: they were two Moon dwellers who invited him to follow them. So it was that the prince got his wish to go to the moon, where he met the beautiful princess and married her.
The two lovers lived many happy years on the Moon and then returned together to Earth. However, the Moon Princess soon fell ill with sadness and had to return to her kingdom, leaving the poor prince alone.
Desperate, the young man wandered through the forests and valleys of the Dolomites until, in a cave, he met the king of the Salvans. The king was the ruler of dwarves who lived in the forest, and made a pact with him. In exchange for land for the Salvans that was theirs and theirs alone, the dwarves would spin moonlight to dress the mountains of the prince’s kingdom. And so, it was. The Dolomites were covered with a clear cloak woven with moon threads, becoming the "Pale Mountains". The princess was able to return to Earth with her prince, and the dwarves had their own kingdom that they still inhabit today.
King Laurin and Alpenglow
Enrosadira in Ladino means to turn pink. To learn about the magic that tinges the Dolomites at sunset, you need to know the ancient legend of King Laurin, his garden of colourful roses and his daughter Ladina.
Laurin was the king of the dwarves and his kingdom was the Dolomites. Laurin had a wonderful rose garden on Rosengarten, at the entrance to his secret palace guarded by the depths of the mountain.
One day, the prince of Latemar, attracted by those beautiful roses in such an unexpected place, ventured into the kingdom of the dwarves. There he found Princess Ladina, fell in love with her, kidnapped her and took her to his kingdom to marry her.
Enraged, King Laurin cursed the roses that had caused the prince to discover his palace and ordered them never to bloom again: "Neither by day nor by night will any human eye be able to admire you again."
However, the king forgot about sunrise and sunset. That is why every day, at those special moments, we can admire King Laurin’s roses that turn the Dolomites from red to pink to purple. This is how Alpenglow came about.