The Dolomites Feature
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Enrosadira and the Dwarf King
The Dolomites, the inimitable craggy peaks Le Corbusier called "the most beautiful work of architecture ever seen," are never so arresting as at dusk, when the last rays of sun create a pink hue that languishes into purple. In the Ladin language, spoken only in the isolated valleys below, this magnificent transformation has its own word—the enrosadira. You can certainly enjoy this phenomenon from a distance, but one of the things that makes the Dolomites such an appealing year-round destination is the multitude of options for getting onto the mountains themselves. Whether you come for a pleasant stroll or a technical ascent in summer, to plunge down sheer faces or glide across peaceful valleys in winter, or to brave narrow switchbacks in a rented Fiat, your perspective, like the peaks around you, can only become more rose colored.
The enrosadira is so striking that it has prompted speculation about its origins. The French nobleman and geologist Déodat Guy Silvain Tancrède Gratet de Dolomieu (1750-1801) took the scientific approach: he got his name applied to the range after demonstrating that the peaks have a particular composition of stratified calcium magnesium carbonate that generates the evening glow. For those unconvinced that such a phenomenon can be explained by geology alone, Ladin legend offers a compelling alternative.
Laurin, King of the Dwarfs, became infatuated with the daughter of a neighboring (human) king, and captured her with the aid of a magic hood that made him invisible. As he spirited her back to the mountains, the dwarf king was pursued by many knights who were able to track the kidnapper after spotting his beloved rose garden. Laurin was captured and imprisoned, and when he finally managed to escape and return home, he cast a spell turning the betraying roses into rocks—so they could be seen neither by day nor by night. But Laurin forgot to include dusk in his spell, which is why the Dolomites take on a rosy glow just before nightfall. (This story is the subject of frescoes in the bar of Bolzano's Parkhotel Laurin.)
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