Pale di San Martino, San Lucano, Dolomiti Bellunesi, Vette Feltrine

This system extends over 31,666 hectares, making it the second largest in the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a rich diversity of landscape and geology. The system fans out over the Provinces of Belluno and Trento, bounded to the South-East by the Piave river valley, to the West by Val Cismon, to the North by the valleys of Travignolo, Biois and Valle Agordina and to the North-East by Val Zoldana. Starting from the South, you encounter the peaks known as Vette Feltrine, the highest of them being Monte Pavione at 2,335m, followed by the Cimonega – Erera Brendol chain. Heading North, you get to the Monti del Sole peaks, dominated by Piz de Mezzodì (2,240m), Schiara (2,565m) and Talvena (2,542m), with the amazing rocky pinnacle known as La Gusela del Vescovà. After Monte Pizzocco come the Civetta (3,220m) and Moiazza chains with Moiazza Sud (2,878m) and Moiazza Nord (2,865m). Finally there are the Pale di San Martino, with Monte Mulaz (2,906m), Cima dei Bureloni (3,130m), Cimon della Pala (3,184m), Pala di San Martino (2,982m), Fradusta (2,939m), Vezzana (3,192m) and Sass Maor (2,814m). The eastern section of the system includes Pale di San Lucano, Monte Agner (2,872m) and Burel (2,281m).

The landscape of this system exhibits some striking contrasts. To the South the rugged scenery is scored by deep valleys and perpendicular rock faces, while in the North there is more variation with rolling Alpine pasturelands giving way to bare rock. The world’s mountaineers are particularly fond of this system which contains some of the world’s most challenging and most scenic rock faces.

Protecting the environment

The natural environment of this system is considered by all to be a treasure well worth protecting. Much of it falls within the boundaries of two designated protected areas, Parco Nazionale Dolomiti Bellunesi and Parco Naturale Paneveggio – Pale di San Martino.
The former, Parco Nazionale Dolomiti Bellunesi, was set up as a national park in 1990, covering an area of 32,000 hectares in the central-southern part of the Province of Belluno. Within the park’s borders are the Cismon and Piave valleys, to the Wwest and East respectively, with Val Prampèr and the lower part of the Agordino valley to the North. The mountain chains belonging to the UNESCO World Heritage Site are Vette Feltrine, Cimonega-Erera Brendol, Monti del Sole, Schiara, Talvena and Pizzocco. The scientific importance of these parklands and the rich variety of flora and fauna found in them are among the reasons for their status as protected areas and this has with no doubt contributed to the spontaneous reappearance, in recent years, of such wild species as the lynx and the bear (
The latter, Parco Naturale Paneveggio – Pale di San Martino, was founded a lot earlier, in 1967, the aim being to protect an area of about 15,000 hectares. The park’s boundaries were later extended, reaching its current size of 19,710 hectares. The park is in the eastern part of Trentino traversed by the mountain streams Cismon, Vanoi and Travignolo, home to the UNESCO-listed Pale di San Martino mountain chain and the 2,700 hectares of the wondrous woodlands of Foresta di Paneveggio, the realm of the wild deer and the Norway spruce, one of the woods used by Antonio Stradivari for his legendary violins (

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The Bianchet Refuge stands at the top of the Vescovà Valley on the slopes of the Coro massif and is surrounded by a magnificent pine forest, overlooked by the north face of Schiara, Gusèla del Vescovà and the dangerous horn of Nasòn. The refuge is located on the Alta Via no. 1 and is the starting point for excursions and climbs. It serves as starting point and as one of the points of interest in the circular “Talking Thematic Trail” Anello della Val Vescovà.

The Dal Piaz Refuge, dedicated to the geologist and palaeontologist from Feltre, was built in 1963 and is a stage along the Alta Via no. 2. It is located in the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park and is an excellent starting point for many excursions in the Vette Feltrine. It serves as starting point and as one of the points of interest in the circular “Talking Thematic Trail” Anello della Busa delle Vette.

The Pian de Fontana Refuge is situated in the Dolomiti Bellunesi Park in a sunny location on the southern slopes of the Cime dei Bachèt, on the border between the Schiara Group and the Prampèr Group to the North. The refuge affords stunning views, especially at sunset, over the Pelf and Schiara peaks and is an important base for hikers following the Alta Via no. 1. It serves as starting point and as one of the points of interest in the circular “Talking Thematic Trail” Anello della Val Vescovà.

The Pradidali Refuge lies in the heart of the Pale di San Martino and is a very popular base for climbers in the Dolomites, due to its close proximity to the renowned routes of the Pale range which can be enjoyed by rope climbing or along the via ferrata. It serves as important base for hikers of the Alta Via No. 2

The Rosetta Refuge lies above the resort of San Martino di Castrozza, on the western edge of the Pale plateau, and is the starting point for some of the most popular excursions within the Group both in summer and winter. The refuge was first built in 1889 then rebuilt in 1952 and dedicated to Giovanni Pedrotti, chairman of SAT from 1925 to 1928. It's a stage point along the Alta Via no. 2.

The Torrani Refuge is located on Pian della Tenda just below the peak of the awe-inspiring Monte Civetta and is the highest refuge in the district. It is a well-known base for climbers attempting to ascend Civetta via normal route or through the via ferrata Tissi or crossing from the Coldài Refuge to the Vazzolèr Refuge and vice versa.

The Treviso “Canali” Refuge, surrounded by tall larch and fir trees, stands on the eastern side of the Canali Valley and was built by the Dresden Section of the DÖAV in 1897. Thanks to its prime position, it is the ideal base for all ascents of the most important peaks in the Canali Valley, as well as being a good base for the many easy hikes in the area. It's a stage point along the Alta Via no. 2.

The Velo della Madonna Refuge lies on a rocky terrace at the foot of Cima della Madonna in the Pale di San Martino Group and is the starting point for interesting hikes and climbs. It owes its name to Spigolo del Velo, one of the classic climbs in the Dolomites.

The Volpi di Misurata al Mulaz Refuge is located in the northern part of the Pale di San Martino Group and occupies a wonderful panoramic position on the top of the Focobon ridge. It is an essential base for anyone walking the Alta Via no. 2. The summit of Mulaz can be reached in about one hour along an easy path from the refuge and affords a particularly far-reaching view.