Shuffling onto my balcony at Lagació Mountain Residence in Alta Badia armed with a cup of steaming latte, I found an electric-green carpet spread before me. Plush with pines and dotted with medieval churches and tiny rifugi (mountain huts) clustered in fairy-tale villages, it was something out of a Disney flick—Pinocchio meets The Sound of Music—or a postcard from an alpine hamlet. The crystalline air slipped down my lungs as I wondered at the snow-laced vertical reefs of the craggy Dolomites glowing pink and golden in the morning light.
I'd come to the Monti Pallidi, the Pale Mountains, as they were originally called after the limestone-like rock that forms their spires, for outdoor adventure and respite from the hubbub of international capitals. What I found was a pristine mountain playground and 2009 UNESCO World Heritage site that hides secrets for those fortunate enough to visit.
Dolomite Mountains custom-tailored my trip and helped me sample the best of this melting pot of Tyrolean, Ladin, and Italian cultures.