Legends of the Dolomites & The Forest of Violins

Legend of the Scenic Dolomite Mountains & Stradivarius Violin forest

These magic mountains range in the northern Italian Alps covering an area that is shared by the provinces of Belluno, Bolzano, Trento, Udine, and Pordenone and owe their name to Déodat de Dolomieu, a French naturalist who first studied and discovered the particular composition that forms their bedrock (double calcium carbonate), unique in the whole Alpine range.

The Dolomites are also known as “Monti Pallidi” in Italian; ‘Pale Mountains’, as their white rocks glow with golden, pink and purple hues at dawn and dusk…here the tale of the magical colors.

Legend of the Prince

Once upon a time in the Dolomites there was a prince to whom a princess appeared in a dream, but she lived on the moon. The two fell in love, but the dark gloomy mountains made the princess sad. She missed the radiant light of the moon. The Prince worried about his love falling ill, so one night wandering the woods he met a dwarf king. The king told him the dwarfs had been chased away, and the prince told the king his troubles. The King of the Dwarfs suggested he could use his powers to cure the princess melancholy on condition he would always live in in the mountains. The prince immediately agreed. The very next night hundreds of dwarfs descended on the dark mountains in the light of the moon and wrapped every peak and every rock with little shiny white threads from the moon until it began to shine pale white so the Dolomites, unlike other mountains, have this characteristic pale color.

Myths and legends aside, the Dolomites enchanting shapes and colors are renowned throughout the world, and in the middle of this  stunning  Dolomite mountain range, there is a real “Forest of Violins”.

“The Forest of Violins” –  The Paneveggio forest, in the middle of the stunning Dolomite mountain range, holds a precious resource. The Norway spruce trees have been producing quality resonance wood for cellos, violins and pianos for centuries. Violin makers have praised the wood’s compact and uniform density, and flawlessness. These trees grow in optimal conditions producing very narrow growth rings which make the wood ideal for transmitting pure, harmonious sound waves. Just as Stradivari, musicians and instrument makers still visit the forest to select their trees which takes ability and great knowledge.

Every year, in the Sounds of the Dolomites summer music festival, the community dedicates trees to imminent musicians. The ‘Woods that Play’ project underscores the link and music and between the resonance wood trees and the genius of musicians and composers.

The first musician to select ‘his’ tree was violinist Uto Ughi. Walking through the forest and playing his Stradivari violin, he listened to the notes vibrate in a nearby tree and exclaimed ”This is the one!”.  A sign was placed next to the tree: ”The trees in this forest vibrated to his magical notes. Thank you, Maestro Ughi”.

The same happened few years later to Veneto violoncellist Mario Brunello. He let  be guided by the sounds of the forest. After the concert “Sunrise on the Dolomites” he placed his cello at the base and began to play. The plaque reads “Nature created us, the genius of man discovered our musical vitality, and its class transforms the sound in strong emotions”.

Recipe of the Dolomites: Canederli allo Speck

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