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Dolomite Alps

Dolomites
The Dolomites (Trentino – Alto Adige and parts of Triveneto) encompasses alpine valleys and mountains that blur into Switzerland and Austria. This is just spectacular territory, with numbers of national and regional parks, and picturesque towns dotted with storybook castles. There are well marked trails for hiking and horseback riding is also available from riding centers in towns.
  Parco Regionale delle Dolomiti Friulane (North of Belluno) – This regional park has scenic mountain territory, aviaries of wild birds, and fossil dinosaur prints in the rock. Stop into the Visitor's Centers (on road between Longarone and Maniago) Casso, Erto, Cimolais and Andreis for maps and more information about the park. Nature trails from Claut and Adreis have routes through beautiful scenery and are appropriate for the whole family.
    Parco Nazionale Dolomiti Bellunesi – The rock formations in this national park are just incredible. The gentler slopes at the southern end of the park, on the road between Feltre and Croce d'Aune, have spots for walks, picnic tables, and look for shepherd's huts, still in use.
    Parco Regionale Adamello Brenta – This park covers a wide area of lakes and glaciers, alpine meadows and clear mountain streams. The Val di Tovel is home to endangered brown bear, and you can see the bears in an enclosure in the Sanctuary of San Romedio in San Zeno. At Lake Molveno (Lago di Molveno), there is an old working saw mill and swimming in the lake. Hike around Lake Tovel (Lago di Tovel) and stop into the Visitor's Center for more information (turnoff for the lake is from Cles.
    Prehistoric petroglyphs – Val Camonica (Camonica Valley) is sprinkled with prehistoric rock engravings, pictures cut into the sandstone during the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. The rocks are carved with many different petroglyphs of people, horses, deer and dogs, images of magic and war. To see the petroglyphs, visit the Naquane National Park (Parco Nazionale delle Incisioni Rupestri Di Naquane) at Capa Di Ponte (north of Lake Iseo) or the Cemmo-Cimbergo-Paspardo Reserve (entrance to the reserve in Nadro).
    Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio (Stelvio National Park) – Classic "Heidi" alpine scenery, with tall peaks and green valleys, towns nestled at bottom of green, green valleys. Look for roe deer, red deer and mountain goats.
    Archeology Museum of the Upper Adige (Bolzano) – This museum specializes in local artifacts from the Stone, Copper, Bronze ages up to the Middle Ages. The highlight of the museum is the "Ice Man," a 5,200 year old mummified man who was found perfectly preserved in an alpine glacier. The tattooed mummy (nicknamed Oetzi) and his clothing, plus hunting gear, are exhibited in a special refrigerated glass case.
Castles The mountains are dotted with castles out of the Brothers Grimm, turreted affairs perched on steep cliffs. In Sluderno (west of Merano), Churburg (Castel Coira) has a wonderful collection of medieval iron armor, as well as the medieval castle proper. Other castles to visit are Castle Tyrol (Castle Tirolo) in Merano, Schloss Runkelstein (Castel Roncolo) in Bolzano, in Castelbello, Castle Kastelbell (Castelbello) in Castelbello (west of Merano).
Mountaineering schools and rock climbing courses – Kids may want to try a little rock climbing, and basic mountaineering. There are various schools in the area that have climbing courses for kids. Southeast of Bolzano, in Nova Levante, the Centro Alpino Catinaccio, and the Scuola Alpina Dolomiti in Tires (Tiers). In Chienes (Kiens), between Bressanone and Brunico, the tourist association offers a mountaineering class for kids ages 7 to 14.
Ride the cable cars and chair lifts – Don't feel like hoofing it up the mountain for spectacular views? The cable cars and chair lifts for the ski areas are open in summer. Ride up in comfort at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Plan de Corones (Kronplatz), Alta Badia, Fassa/Carezza, Fiemme/Obereggen, Val di Gardena/Alpe di Siusi.
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