Vigo di Fassa, Trentino Alto-Adige
Things are hotting up in Italy - literally. The Italians are leaving the cities in droves for the cooler air of the beaches and mountains and are making way for the more adventurous (or foolish maybe!) tourists who flock to these cities to see the sights.
There are drought warnings, fires, avalanches - and rising numbers of Covid cases, causing extra worries for travellers and residents alike.
But, it isn’t all doom and gloom. All my friends in the tourist industry are delighted with the numbers of people there this year, after the hiatus of the last few years. And, of course, there are always places to go to beat the heat and keep away from the tourist trail.
One of these is Vigo di Fassa, Trentino Alto-Adige. Wikipedia quotes it as:-
“Vigo di Fassa (Ladin: Vich de Fascia, German: Wiegen im Fasstal or Vig im Fasstal) is a frazione of Sèn Jan di Fassa in Trentino in the northern Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) northeast of Trento.
Vigo di Fassa towards Latemar in a photograph of the beginning of XX century
In the census of 2001, 921 inhabitants out of 1,073 (85.8%) declared Ladin as their native language
But this tiny insert does not do it justice!
Walkers have enjoyed this part of Italy for centuries, as a starting point for hiking in the Dolomites. The view of the Sella and Mamolada mountains are stunning.
A cable car takes you from the village centre up to the Ciampinei mountains (2,000 m) where you can hike for miles.
But this isn’t the only thing this wonderful place has to offer.
In Vigo di Fassa there is the Ladin Cultural Institute, which is dedicated to the Ladin language and Rhaetian culture.
Not a clue? Well, nor did I, but having researched it, I found yet another fascinating aspect to Italy as a country!
After the Alps were integrated into the Roman Empire, the Rhaetian people who lived there adopted what was known as “vulgar Latin” i.e. Latin that was spoken by soldiers (and apparently magistrates!). This gradually evolved, as languages do, into the Ladin language.
According to the informative website Alta Badia
"Numerous factors played into this process: Rhaetian vowel shifts, the conservation of elements from the local vocabulary and the influence of the neighbouring languages in the north and south."
The Ladin language was spoken from the Danube in the north to Lake Garda in the south and from Gotthard Pass in the west across to Trieste in the East.
Now, there are only four Ladin language areas across the Dolomites and only a few of the residents speak it.
The Rhaetian culture is based on farming and the craft work. The fragile ecosystem of the mountainous landscape is carefully managed by the residents by dividing the good and bad soil between them and making sure the agricultural aspect of farming is balanced by the animals.
The villages, known as Viles, have compact houses with ancient origins and are run on a sort of cooperative basis, which is all about self sufficiency. The local people love the land and their surroundings and want to protect it for future generations.
So, if you want to escape the heat and the crowds this summer, don’t just think of the Dolomites as somewhere to ski - do as the Italians do and head there for fresh air, beautiful countryside and amazing local food!
And then of course there is the wine they produce in the region.............. But that is for another story!