Saturday, December 22, 2012

Winter Sports In the Dolomites

Written on the back of the second photograph, "Selva  Dolomiten, Dezember 1956"

Selve refers to a small community in the Dolomite Mountains in the  South Tyrol region of northern Italy, Selva di Val Gardena, or as it's known in German, Wolkenstein in Groden.

 So why all the German?  Pretty simple, actually.  The South Tyrol was once part of Austria-Hungary.  At the beginning of World War 1, there were two political blocks in Europe.  The Triple Entente, Great Britain, France, and Russia, and the Triple Alliance, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.  When the war started, Italy dropped out of the alliance.  In 1915, the British promised the Italians the South Tyrol if they'd switch sides and declare war on the Germans and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The Italians didn't do all that well in the actual fighting, but after the war, they were able to annex the South Tyrol.  Despite attempts to "Italianize" the area, the majority of people still speak German.  In Selva, 89% speak Ladin, a local dialect.  The remaining 11% are about equally divided between Italian and German.

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