on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

The Dolomites

Living my dream

Adriana Benetti-Longhini

I was born in Arusha, Tanzania in Africa below the slopes of Mount Meru and her majestic neighbour Kilimanjaro. During the 70's my parents left Tanzania for greener pastures in South Africa, first to Durban and then eventually to Johannesburg.

I studied Fine Arts in Durban, South Africa, where I ventured into the world of photography, loving the hours in the darkroom developing predominately black and white photos. I started my career in advertising, progressing to interior design and eventually to photography full time.

In recent years I have gone back to live in Asiago, northern Italy near the Dolomites where my ancestors originated. I have a huge love for Europe and the diverse beauty she offers, and this continues to inspire me to use the magic of light and capture what my eye sees and share it with the rest of the world.


I will never forget the first time I saw the Dolomites. It was during the summer of 1996 when I was at our family home in northern Italy with my then young twin boys on our summer holidays from South Africa.

I remember driving up through the Val Gardena valley, where the road in some areas goes through deep valleys. After a certain point, the famous rocky peaks seemed to play hide and seek through the pine forests along the winding road and I could only wonder what lay beyond.

“The Dolomites are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world,” states UNESCO, and on June 26, 2009, they were inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. These mighty mountains hold a wide appeal for hikers, climbers, skiers, cyclists, historians, and naturally photographers not only here in Italy but throughout the world. They are a mountain range situated in the northern Italian Alps and have over 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 metres in altitude. They feature some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys.

The range and its characteristic rock take their name from the 18th-century French geologist Dieudonné de Dolomieu, who made the first scientific study of the region and its geology. These dramatic mountains are famous for their unique colours. In the Dolomites, the two moments of transition between light and darkness becomes even more special due to a distinctive trait that these mountains have, which make the rock formations take on a particular pink colour, a phenomenon called Enrosadira.

The source of the term Enrosadira comes from Ladin (a dialect spoken in this area of Italy) and means "to become pink". It is a range of colours that follow the light during sunrise and sunset, creating a spectacle that both fascinates and takes one’s breath away.

This splendid phenomenon has scientific origins; the Dolomites are composed of Dolomite rock, a compound of calcium carbonate and magnesium, elements that accentuate the reflectivity of the sun's rays. For this reason, when illuminated by the light, at dawn or at dusk, they develop many intense hues. This is a phenomenon that contrasts with their appearance during daytime when they take on cool tones and faded colours which then gives the Dolomites their name, the "Pale Mountains".

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