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©Stefano Zardini

Nature

A gateway to the Ampezzo Dolomites Natural Park and the Sennes and Fanes Natural Park, the Cortina Delicious area is a great nature oasis.

An ideal habitat for ibex and chamois, it is home to marmots, hares, partridges and even eagles, which hunt and nest here.

Further down towards the valley live black grouse and nutcrackers.

You are likely to hear the unmistakable shrill whistles of the loveable marmots keeping guard and warning of your approach.

Not to be missed in June is the spectacular pink flowering of the "Rhododendron ferrugineum”.

From the woods of the valley floor roe deer and red deer come up as far as the line of high-altitude meadows.

There is the glimmer of ancient lakes of glacial origin set in the  rock.

Contorted in anguish, the secular stone pines render the landscape truly unique, at times becoming genuine works of art.

Flowers and animals

The Cortina Delicious area hosts differing environments, from subalpine forests of conifers to high rocky crests.

Depending on the habitat, you can discover animal and vegetable species typical of these mountains.

Walking along the paths, you will be astonished at the variety of flowers of a thousand colours that at times grow in extreme conditions.

Spruce forests
Zone: north side of the 5 Torri (locality Bai de Dones), west side of Mount Pore (locality Andraz)
Flora: asclepiadean gentian, spotted orchid
Fauna: roe deer, pine marten, wood grouse, pied red woodpecker, scops owl

fiori_lagazuoi_5_torri
Photo by Stefano Zardini
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©Stefano Zardini

Vegetation at a high altitude
Zone:  Nuovolau (peak), Lagazuoi Piccolo, Cima Falzarego, Averau, Lagazuoi Grande.
Flora:  campanula morettiana, rock rampion, draba Dolomitica, auricola, androsace di Hausmann.
Fauna:  golden eagle, raven, nuthatch, short-tailed snow vole.

Larch and stone pines
Zone:  north side of the 5 Torri (high part), around Malga Giau and Albergo Sasso di Stria
Flora:  alpine clematis, Rhododendron ferrugineum, martagon lily
Fauna:  nutcracker, three-toed woodpecker, black grouse, boreal owl.

Mountain pines, alders and rhododendrons
Zone: east side of the Nuvolau (mountain pines), Mount Pore and Lana Ridge (alders and rhododendrons), Lagazuoi, Cime Falzarego (south side).
Flora: dwarf rhododendron, hairy Alpenrose, aconite, round-leaved wintergreen.
Fauna: collared blackbird, chamois, marsh tit.

Mountain meadowland
1. Continuous meadowland
Zone: 5 Torri, Falzarego, Giau Pass, Lana Ridge - Mount Pore, Valparola.
Flora: arnica, spotted gentian, yellow anemone, Nigritella nigra.
Fauna: marmot, chamois, Greek partridge.
2. Discontinuous meadowland
Zone: Alpe di Lagazuoi, Col dei Bos, Nuvolau, Sasso di Stria.
Flora: white alpine anemone, least primrose, mountain aster (Aster alpinus), Alpine thrift, mountain avens.
Fauna: hare, stoat (ermine), snow grouse.

The flowering of the rhododendrons

You shouldn’t miss the gorgeous, intensive rhododendron bloom in early summer. The intensely pinkish-red petals make this mountain flower distinctive.

The “Rhododendron ferrugineum” is part of the Ericacee family. The name Rhododendron comes from the Greek words “rodon” which means “rose” and “dendron” which means “tree”, thus rose tree.  

In German, the rhododendron is called Alpenrose, Rose of the Alps, because it grows up to an altitude of 2000 metres. In the Apennines, it is also called the "Rose of the Dead", as, according to an ancient legend, it originated from the blood of a young man who committed suicide for love.

To fully enjoy the colourful blooming,  which unfold its full splendour in July, we recommend a hike on path no. 419, which connects Col Gallina with the 5 Torri and is suitable for all ages.

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©archivio Guide Alpine Cortina

THE MARMOTS

It is very likely that you will spot marmots between the 5 Torri, the Falzarego pass and the Giau pass. Or rather, you will be spotted by the marmots who announce your presence to their fellows: you will hear the unmistakable shrill whistle of the guards who watch over the cute, frolicking puppies and the siesta or the sunbathing of the other marmots.
Then you have to stop and wait until the alert is over amd, with a bit of luck, you will see them.
They live in colonies of different families, formed respectively by a couple and their  last two litters. Marmots live in deep burrow systems and hibernate there through the winter.
Once they were hunted for their soft fur,  and marmot fat was supposed to work miracles for rheumatic pain.
Today they live undisturbed and fear only  eagles, foxes and stone martens.
You can also observe their colonies from the terraces of many of our refuges.

 

The fossils

Incredible as it seems, walking along the paths of the Cortina Delicious area you can find fossils of sponge, sea urchins, molluscs, gastropods and algae… and all at over 2106 metres in altitude!

There is nothing strange in this if you consider that the history of the mountains of the Lagazuoi 5 Torri area began precisely in the sea, a good 229 million years ago!.

As a consequence of a series of favourable circumstances, the area gradually acquired the conditions of a tropical sea, and thus the flora and fauna typical of that environment began to develop.

And so the fossils are witness to the ancient aquatic and terrestrial life that reigned supreme here in these mountains millions of years ago.

Nothing can be more thrilling than to go in search of the so called San Cassiano layer, which conserves the organisms which were formed in that far-off period.