Looking for books about the Dolomites and South Tyrol? We have you covered. Discover the best books to read that will ignite your wanderlust, stir your imagination and provide you with a wealth of travel tips and more.
A land as magical as South Tyrol, Italy is bound to inspire countless books. Whether you seek travel advice or simply wish to let your mind wander amid the mountains, we put together this list of books that will transport you to Italy’s best-kept secret one way or another. To help find the right book or two for you, we have divided the list into the following sections: Travel Guidebooks, Historical Works, Novels and Coffee Table Books.
Dolomites & South Tyrol Travel Guidebooks & Maps
Whether you are a professional photographer, a hobbyist or just extra snap-happy with your phone, Photographing the Dolomites is the #1 book for discovering how and where to capture the Dolomites at their most epic. We return to this book time and time again before and during our travels.
It is put together beautifully with gorgeous images that will encourage you to take your photography to the next level. The content is easy-to-follow and the author, James Rushforth, shares advice on everything from which lenses to use, creative shooting techniques and directions on how to reach and enjoy some of the top attractions in the Dolomites.
If you are looking for a travel resource that you can access on your computer, tablet, and phone before and during your visit to South Tyrol and the Dolomites, check out our Travel Resources and Hiking Guides. We developed this 90+ page ebook based on our extensive travel through the region.
It is filled with insider tips that will add more “WOW!” moments to your itinerary and includes easy-to-follow hiking guides to the top destinations in the Dolomites. In addition, we include our favorite travel hacks that have saved us time and money on every trip.
Shorter Walks in the Dolomites is a compact guidebook that offers an excellent collection of shorter and more manageable hiking and walking routes in the Dolomites. The book is great for those seeking less strenuous hiking experiences but still want to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Dolomites.
The routes described in the book are between 4 and 8 miles long and are suitable for hikers of all abilities. Inside, you’ll find detailed descriptions and maps of each walk, as well as information on the history, culture and geology of the region.
If you are interested in enjoying Via Ferrata in the Dolomites, the Via Ferratas of the Italian Dolomites: Vol 1: 75 routes-North, Central and East Ranges is an indispensable guide. It covers 75 distinct routes and offers detailed descriptions, expert insights, and invaluable safety information for each adventure. Each route is meticulously outlined with maps, photographs, and are graded for difficulty.
Whether you’re drawn to the sheer cliffs, historical World War routes, or simply the unparalleled beauty of this mountainous region, this guide is your passport to an unforgettable alpine experience. This guidebook not only serves as a practical manual for Via Ferrate enthusiasts but also delves deep into the rich history and culture of the Dolomites. From the stories of wartime pathways carved into the mountainsides to the geological wonders of the Dolomite rock formations, you are given a holistic view of the region.
A valuable book to have if you plan to visit South Tyrol’s Val Gardena is Walking in Italy’s Val Gardena. This guidebook provides detailed information on many of the top walking routes and trails, as well as information on the local culture and history of Val Gardena.
The book is divided into several sections, each dedicated to a different area of Val Gardena. It includes information on the towns of Selva, Ortisei, and Santa Cristina, as well as the nearby mountain passes and valleys. In addition, you can learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as discover tips on how to prepare for a walking trip in the area.
Most travel guides are only captivating when you’re in the middle of planning a trip. Not The Sunny Side of Alps: Year-Round Delights in South Tyrol and the Dolomites by Paul Hofmann. This inspirational guide reads like a story.
It is written a bit like an autobiography, but the author always makes sure South Tyrol and the Dolomites remain the star. His descriptions paint vivid pictures of the land while also giving an endearing peek into the rich history and traditions of its people. We browse this hidden gem constantly.
The geography of the Dolomites is complex and can be quite confusing for travelers not familiar with the region. If you are a fan of physical maps, consider picking up the Dolomites UNESCO Tourist Map. This foldable map is very detailed and features an outstanding presentation of the topography derived from the publisher’s popular hiking maps.
The map provides a crystal clear picture of the region’s landscape and includes names of towns, mountains, valleys, etc. in both their Italian and German names, as well as features a map legend in English.
Fascinating Historical Works
Into true crime? Then jump into the oldest murder mystery on Earth. Journey back to the Neolithic period when Ötzi the Iceman was murdered high up on a mountain in South Tyrol. His mummified body remained lost in ice for 5,300 years.
We couldn’t resist purchasing Ötzi, the Iceman: The Full Facts at a Glance by Angelika Fleckinger after visiting the frozen corpse of Ötzi at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. It is filled with riveting facts and photos about one of mankind’s greatest historical discoveries.
After reading the book, consider watching a fictionalized movie about Ötzi appropriately titled ICEMAN. It hauntingly reimagines how Ötzi might have met his end. The true-to-history sets and wardrobes in the movie are remarkable to see come to life.
Those in the mood for something even more enchanting than a murder mystery should consider picking up The Dolomites and their Legends by Karl Felix Wolff. This book is a cultural treasure brimming with fascinating myths and legends born generations ago beneath the crags of the Dolomites.
If a hike in the Dolomites is in your future, this book will give you a new appreciation for the deep history of the region, as well as how many of the mountains and valleys in the Italian Alps earned their name.
Reinhold Messner is a mountaineering legend born in the Dolomites. Growing up in Italy’s Val di Funes, he learned how to climb mountains in his backyard and went on to become one of the world’s greatest modern explorers. Through mastery of skill and superhuman-like willpower, Messner was the first person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen, which was considered an impossible feat at the time.
The book, Reinhold Messner: My Life At the Limit (Legend and Lore), reflects on his experiences in the mountains, and the impact they had on his life. It also delves into the mental and physical preparation that goes into climbing at the highest level. Along with many photos and illustrations, the book provides a unique and fascinating insight into the mind of one of the greatest climbers of all time.
It’s nice to see more and more authors shining a brighter light on World War I history. One new book well worth reading on such a tragic time in history is The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919 by Mark Thompson. This enthralling and brutal account of what soldiers endured fighting amid the peaks of the Dolomites helps put life into perspective.
The book offers a detailed examination of the little-known conflict that took place high in the Dolomites between Italy and Austria-Hungary. It explores the complex nature of the conflict from both sides and the impact of the war on the soldiers who fought and the civilians caught in the war-torn regions.
Alpine Corps on the Dolomite Front, 1915: Myth and Reality is another fascinating and insightful book that sheds light on mountain warfare during World War I. It examines the true origins of Germany’s mountain forces known as the “Alpenkorps”, and carefully investigates how a combat-ready body of “elite” troops could evolve from men who previously had no mountain experience.
Furthermore, the book provides a comprehensive account of the unprecedented challenges posed by high-altitude warfare. During the period between 1915 and 1917, the war in the Dolomites marked the first time in history that a battle was fought at such elevations and in such extreme conditions. At the outset of the conflict, none of the three warring nations – Austria-Hungary, the German Empire, and Italy – possessed significant experience in deploying troops and equipment in this terrain. Consequently, much of the strategy had to be developed from scratch, and valuable lessons were learned only through the course of the ongoing conflict.
Novels Set in the Dolomites & South Tyrol
Beneath a Scarlet Sky is a highly-acclaimed novel based on the real-life experiences of Pino Lella, an Italian teenager who becomes a spy for the Resistance during World War II. The novel takes place during the Nazi occupation and follows Pino’s journey from a carefree teenager to a brave and heroic young man. Pino is forced to grow up quickly and take on dangerous missions, including spying on Nazi officials and helping Jewish refugees escape to Switzerland by hiking through the Dolomites.
The novel is a gripping tale of love, sacrifice, and courage in the face of evil. It portrays the horrors of war and the bravery of those who fought against oppression and tyranny. The author, Mark Sullivan, apparently conducted extensive research to ensure that the historical details in the novel were accurate. Through his vivid descriptions, you can feel the tension and fear Pino experiences as he works to outsmart the Nazis and save lives.
Craving a thriller? How about a thriller paired with the thrill of the Dolomites? Beneath the Mountain is a novel by Luca D’Andrea, a gifted author from Bolzano. We both found this book an absorbing page-turner. The story follows the lives of two brothers who are forced to confront their past when they return to their childhood home after many years away.
They discover that the idyllic mountain village of their youth is now a hotbed of secrets, lies, and violence. The book takes unexpected twists and turns — cultivating a gripping mystery deep in the Dolomites. But the best part is that it snakes into your mind until you find yourself contemplating the story even when you’re not glued to the book.
If you’re interested in reading a novel that places you in the heart of South Tyrol, consider Eva Sleeps. This thought-provoking story by Francesca Melandri is both powerful and evocative, and her vivid descriptions of South Tyrol’s landscape and culture border on poetic.
Eva Sleeps tells the story of a woman coming to terms with her past and learning to embrace her true self, even in her later years. Eva is a retired doctor who has lived a quiet life in Rome with her husband for many years. However, as she approaches her 60th birthday, she begins to question the choices she has made and wonders if she has lived the life she truly wanted.
The novel is set against the backdrop of South Tyrol’s tumultuous political history and takes you on a journey through Italy’s past, including its fascist regime, the student uprisings of the 1960s, and the Red Brigades’ terrorism. Through the eyes of Eva, the novel explores how these events have shaped Italy and its people and how they have affected her own life. The book is a bestselling novel in Italy.
Sanctuary is another thriller written by Luca D’Andrea. It combines elements of suspense and mystery with a touch of the supernatural as well. This book is about a young woman, Emma, who is forced to leave her home in the Dolomites and take refuge in a remote mountain cabin. Once there, she discovers a dark secret about the cabin’s past and the people who once lived there.
As Emma delves deeper into the mystery, she becomes embroiled in a web of lies, deception and violence, ultimately leading her to question the true nature of her sanctuary.
If a crime thriller does not excite you perhaps a fantasy novel will. In that case, now is a good time to reach for Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. While this famous trilogy is set in the realm of Middle Earth and not South Tyrol, according to Tolkien, the Dolomites and their many legends served as inspiration for the story and the rich characters within. His tantalizing prose is a bridge to both worlds, which is why we felt compelled to include it on our list.
Of course, you do not have to end your fantasy journey in Middle Earth. You can immerse yourself in the adventures of Westeros by diving into George R.R. Martin’s sprawling saga entitled A Song of Ice and Fire. Nothing will make you feel more like conquering a castle in South Tyrol than a sword made of Valerian steel and a medieval tavern full of ale.
Coffee Tables Books on the Dolomites & South Tyrol
As fun as it can be to get lost in pages of text, sometimes the accompaniment of gorgeous photos is a welcome sight during your reading time. If that sounds appealing to you, then consider adding South Tyrol: Paradise in the Dolomites by Hanspaul Menara to your collection.
His book beams with high-quality photographs that reveal the remarkable landscapes, picturesque villages, and traditional architecture of the region. It also provides an in-depth look at the history, culture, and people of South Tyrol, including information on the region’s unique blend of German and Italian influences. This gorgeous book belongs on your coffee table as much as your bookshelf. It provides an inspiring window into some of our favorite areas of South Tyrol.
Dolomites – A Decorative Book showcases the epic beauty of the Dolomites from the first page to the last. The book is designed to be both informative and visually stunning, making it a perfect addition to any coffee table. The inside is filled with high-quality photographs that capture the majesty of the region.
The photographs are accompanied by informative text that provides background information on the geology, history, and culture of the Italian Alps. The book also includes maps and illustrations that provide a detailed look at the different areas of the Dolomites you may want to visit.
A Mountain Cookbook You’ll Love
Finally, a book all mountain lovers should not be without is Alpine Flavours: Authentic recipes from the Dolomites, the heart of the Alps…especially if you want to enjoy the hearty goodness of the Alps in your own home not just on the slopes. We use this cookbook weekly.
Beautifully put together with stunning photos, Alpine Flavours will make you a pro at concocting amazing dishes and desserts born in the valleys and mountains of the Dolomites.
Trust us, an evening with a homemade South Tyrolean meal followed by a generous helping of apple strudel will do wonders to lift your spirits. It’s mountain food after all!