The Ladin People in the Dolomites

The Dolomite Mountains
The Dolomite Mountains

Bun dé (“Good day" in Ladin)!

Ladin language thrives in the Dolomites

Latin is a dead language, right?  Not so in the Dolomites, where during Roman times the locals adopted the rough Latin spoken by Roman soldiers and magistrates. In their remote and isolated mountain home, the language evolved over the centuries, but stayed remarkably true to its pure Latin roots. Today Ladin is spoken in the Val Badia and the Val Gardena by about 4% of the residents, in the mountainous Sud Tirol (South Tyrol) region of northern Italy.Ladin flag

Ladin is officially recognized as one of South Tyrol’s three official languages, so you’ll see many signs with three languages—Ladin, Italian, and German. San Cassiano, where you’ll stay on an Alpenwild Dolomites Hiking Tour, is simultaneously known by three names: San Cassiano (Italian), San Ciascian (Ladin), and Sankt Kassian (German).

In the Ladin valleys the educational system is based on the principle of linguistic parity. In the Ladin schools half the subjects are taught in Italian while the other half are taught in German. In addition, students are required to speak and study in Ladin for about two hours a day in elementary school. 

As you hike through the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, you’ll be awe-struck by these majestic and magnificent peaks. Their sheer cliffs and magnitude will take your breath away. But you’re sure to find the Ladin people and culture are equally fascinating. Though the Ladin people may be citizens of Italy, they are culturally most closely connected with Austria’s Tyrol which was part of the Hapsburg and Austro-Hungarian Empire for most of the past millennium, until 1915.

Distinctive Ladin Culture

On your Alpenwild Dolomites Hiking Tour, you will walk though Dolomites valley towns and rural hillsides, where you will see many Ladin families have their cabins. The placement of these cabins may seem sprinkled, scattered, and random, however, they are indeed intentional. In the late 19th century, settlers noticed during lightning storms, cattle wouldCabins instinctively huddle together in specific spots. The settlers built their cabins in the very places the cattle stood. Many years have passed, lightning storms have come and gone, and though trees have succumbed to Mother Nature, their cabins have not.

The Ladin people take great pride in their culture and cuisine. Due to the proximity of cultures in the area, Ladin cuisine is considered to be a delicate blend of Tyrolean (Austrian influenced) and Italian tastes. Ladin dishes include rich, creamy hand-made butters, cheeses, seasoned meats and dumplings. Ladin cuisine is simple and delicious, we are sure you will enjoy it, as we dine in fine hotels and simple rifugios along the trail.

Some Ladin Words:

Good morning        Bun de
Good evening         Buna Sëra
How are you?         Co vara pa?
Thank you               Giulan
Dinner                     Cëna
Water                      Ega
Wine                        Vin
Bread                       Pan
Best wishes             Dõt le bun

Ladin Cuisine makes your Dolomites tour unforgettable

Here is a simple Ladin dumpling, often added to a broth soup or served on it's own as an appetizer or side dish. Try it out and get a little taste of your upcoming trip!

Bales da ciociul - Smoked ham (Tyrol Speck) dumplings

Recipe from Ladin Cuisine

Tyrol speck dumplings

Ingredients for 4 servings -

  • 150 grams dry white bread
  • 40 grams flour
  • Approx. 100ml milk or water
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 grams smoked ham (Tyrol Speck)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 20 grams butter

To serve -

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or chives
  • Salt

Method -

  • Cut the bread into small cubes
  • Lightly fry the finely chopped onion in the butter pour over the bread cubes and stir
  • Mix the flour and the smoked ham (Tyrol Speck)
  • Stir the milk, eggs, parsley and salt together and pour over the bread and mix
  • Allow the mixture to rest for approx. 15 minutes, then form dumpling balls (4 – 5 centimetre diameter) and boil them (half covered) in salted water
  • Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes


As you taste the dumplings, imagine your upcoming Alpenwild Dolomite Hiking Tour. We know the trip will be the vacation of a lifetime. We can’t wait to see you on the trail!

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