Alta Badia is so little-known a part of Italy that it has its own language. It also – Petronella Wyatt discovers – has fine ski slopes, excellent food and dark shadows of war.
I am in a place that time forgot.
San Cassiano is a tiny hamlet in the Italian Dolomites that has been untouched by the world for almost a thousand years. It has its own history, its own language and its own memories.
My guide, Rene, points to the mountains, crystalline and towering in the pale afterglow of the sunset.
One peak with a bizarre formation is called Il Montis Sangue – Blood Mountain. Rene speaks a strange dialect – a bastardised Latin called Ladino – with the pride of a race apart.
Despite their Italian status, the Ladins, as these mountain people are known, also have their own flag – white represents the mountains, blue is for the sky and green is for the rich grass.