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The Lagazuoi Cable Car at Falzarego Pass

Updated on August 18, 2016
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Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

Mount Lagazuoi Cable Car

Mount Lagazuoi
Mount Lagazuoi | Source

Located in the heart of the Grand Dolomites of northern Italy is a very special place that is considered sacred ground to many Italians. The Falzarego Pass is just one of a number of high mountain passes that visitors can traverse as they cross the Grand Dolomite Highway from Bolzano to the winter resort town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. For sheer beauty and an unobstructed 360 degree view of the majestic Dolomites it doesn’t get much better that this. From the top of the pass, the Lagazuoi Cable Car will whisk you to the summit of Mount Lagazuoi in just a few minutes. What awaits you at the top is not only a stunning view but also an incredible story.

History

What separates this particular location from the many other beautiful mountain passes across northern Italy is that this was the site of an incredible battlefield during the First World War. As inconceivable as it may seem, these high mountains of the Dolomite Range served as the front lines as the Italian and Austrian armies slugged it out during WWI, not only against each other, but also against the elements.

Triple Alliance: Alliance between Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy

Triple Entente: Alliance between Russia, Britain, and France

The pre-WWI border region of Italy and Austria had been disputed since the end of the Third Italian War of Independence in 1861, when the independent state of Italy was first created. With the onset of World War I the Italians switched their allegiance from the Triple Alliance, and instead sided with the Triple Entente. Italy had been promised that this disputed territory would be granted back to them following the war if they sided with the Triple Entente and declared war on their former allies; Austria-Hungary and Germany, which they did in 1915.

Pre WWI map of Triple Alliance

Map of the Triple Alliance before Italy switched allegiances
Map of the Triple Alliance before Italy switched allegiances | Source

Although Italy had the superior numbers, the warring sides soon bogged down into a bloody front that stretched across the Dolomites. From 1915 to 1918 the Austrians held the strategic high positions of the Dolomite range including Mount Lagazuoi. The Italians, very much wanting “their” mountains back waged a three year campaign to drive the Austrian army out of the Dolomites. The Italians were hell bent on displacing their unwelcome visitors and put up a bloody and relentless siege of the area. Incredibly, tens of thousands of soldiers lost their lives in these mountains, many to avalanches and the elements as well as the fighting.

The ultimate fate of the border between Austria and Italy was never really decided on the battlefield, as the two countries pretty much fought to a draw. With World War I winding down in other parts of Europe the regions destiny was instead decided at the negotiation table in Paris in 1919, rather than in the mountains of northern Italy. As was promised to Italy when they switched their allegiance at the start of the war they were granted this beautiful region of the Dolomites, and a new border with Austria was formed.

View of the Dolomites from the top of Lagazuoi during our visit
View of the Dolomites from the top of Lagazuoi during our visit | Source
The Dolomites from Lagazuoi on a clear day
The Dolomites from Lagazuoi on a clear day | Source

Today, this area offers visitors an opportunity to experience the majestic scenery of the Dolomites as well as a look into the past. The area is littered with reminders of the battles that took place here almost 100 years ago. In their effort to retake the peak of Mount Lagazuoi the Italians dug miles of tunnels into the mountain in a plan to place explosives just below the summit. The hope was that when they blew the top off of the mountain they would also blow the Austrians off of their strategic position. The plan ultimately failed as the Austrians figured out what the Italians were up to and retreated, only to return after the Italians literally blew the top off of the mountain.

The View From The Top of Lagazuoi
The View From The Top of Lagazuoi | Source
Tunnels in Mount Lagazuoi
Tunnels in Mount Lagazuoi | Source

For the adventurous soles out there, today you can walk these tunnels much as the soldiers did decades ago. In addition to the tunnels there are other remnants of the war from gun turrets and bunkers, to rusting shell casings and fortified trenches. The entire top of this mountain is considered to be an open air World War I museum with great views to boot. As you ride the cable car to the top of Mount Lagazuoi you can still see some of the tunnels piercing the side of the mountain.

Even if you are not a history buff the Falzarego Pass is worth a stop. If you are driving the Grand Dolomite Highway, presumably you are here for the scenery, and the view from the top of Lagazuoi is definitely one that you will long remember. Once at the top you can hike the actual Austrian Troop Trail along the ridge or venture into the tunnels below the summit. One can only begin to wonder what it must have been like to be waging a war in this beautiful location.

Austrian Mountain Troop Path
Austrian Mountain Troop Path | Source

Rifugio Lagazuoi

Hours and Fees

The summer schedule for the Lagazuoi Cable Car is from May 24 to October 10 and this depends on the weather conditions. A one-way ticket (you can hike up or down) on the cable car will cost you about 10 euro while a roundtrip ticket will cost about 15 euro. The cable car departs every fifteen minutes and the first run of the day starts at 9am. The last ride down is at 5pm and the ride only takes approximately three minutes.

The Falzarego Pass is at 2117 meters (6946 feet). The Lagazuoi Cable Car goes up to 2762 meters (9062 feet). Dress appropriately as the weather atop Mount Lagazuoi can be quite different from down below.

Lagazuoi Refuge
Lagazuoi Refuge | Source

There is a refuge area at the top of Mount Lagazuoi that has some artifacts from World War I. There is also a restaurant and café along with an Inn with basic accommodations for those wishing to spend the night atop Lagazuoi. The Inn here is one of the highest mountain top Inns in all of northern Italy and in the winter the area serves as a ski destination. The terrace at the station offers unparalleled views of the Dolomites in all directions.

Falzarego Pass Chapel
Falzarego Pass Chapel | Source

The Falzarego Pass is located right on the Grand Dolomite Highway, SR48, at the junction with SP24, and is located just a few miles to the west of Cortina d’Ampezzo. There is ample free parking and in addition to the cable car lift station there is a small chapel, a hotel and restaurant, and a souvenir shop. If you wish to explore the tunnels you can also rent helmets and flashlights here.

Passo Falzarego
Passo Falzarego | Source

A visit to the Falzarego Pass and Mount Lagazuoi can be made in a day trip from Venice, and we even had time to spend a few hours in Cortina d'Ampezzo. If you happen to find yourself in this beautiful and unique corner of Italy I would highly recommend that you take the time to ride the cable car to the top of Mount Lagazuoi. It is a trip that you will not soon forget.

Ciao for now.

Lagazuoi Cable Car
Lagazuoi Cable Car | Source
show route and directions
A markerPazzo Falzarego, Italy -
Falzarego Pass, 32043 Cortina d'Ampezzo, Belluno, Italy
get directions

B markerCortina d'Ampezzo, Italy -
32043 Cortina d'Ampezzo Belluno, Italy
get directions

C markerVenice, Italy -
Venice, Italy
get directions

A markerPasso Falzarego, Italy -
Falzarego Pass, 32043 Cortina d'Ampezzo, Belluno, Italy
get directions

© 2013 Bill De Giulio

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    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 6 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mariana. Thank you and your welcome. It's an amazingly beautiful area and the views from the top are stunning. Enjoy the ride! Ciao!

    • profile image

      Mariana 6 weeks ago

      Hey! Thank you for this great description and tips! I´m going to drive thru The Great Dolomites road on June, with my husband and parents and we will definitely stop and visit this place.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Joelle. Yes, I hope to have many new hubs in the coming weeks and months. We visited a lot of interesting places and I have a lot of photos to start sifting through. It will make for a busy fall and winter.

      Have a great weekend and I'll let you know.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I hope that you had a great vacation! Did you bring back a lot of pictures for coming hubs :-)

      Let me know if I missed any of your owl hubs :-)

      Have a great day!

      Joelle

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi kidscraft. Sorry for the delay in responding, we just returned from a vacation. If you are afraid of heights this cable car ride would not be fun. It goes almost straight up. But it was worth the ride, just beautiful

      I will check out your owl hub as soon as I get caught up here and will add a link to your hub in my owl hubs. Many thanks.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Pam. It was a beautiful region of Italy and we really enjoyed the cable car ride. Start planning your trip?

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Once again, a fantastic article about that corner of the world :-) I love your great pictures! So many things to see and so many things to learn in Italy. Did you had a chance to visit some of those old tunnels in Mount Lagazuoi? I would love to take Lagazuoi cable car ... but I know that my husband who is afraid of height my not appreciate that so much!

      Voted up, interesting and beautiful!

      PS : I intend to publish my hub about owls soon... and put a link toward your hub : Birds of Prey - The Barn Owl

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      This is an excellent hub for history and a very interesting area of Italy. When I read your hubs it makes me want to travel and see all the sites that you write about so well. Voted awesome.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Suzie. Thank You. It really is a beautiful area of Italy. I'm glad you stopped by today so I can tell you that we are leaving soon for another trip. We are taking a cruise to the Mediterranean with stops in Rome, Naples, Malta, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Ephesus, Crete, Rhodes and Venice. This will be a little different for us being on a ship. I'm not sure it will be my thing but we are going to some interesting ports so I am looking forward to that.

      Thanks so much as always for the support, vote, share, pins, etc.. Hopefully I have lots of new material when I get back.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      What an interesting piece of history this area has seen! An awesome place in the north! Great pics and info as always, you just get better and better and love the tunnels but not sure if I would take the walk through!

      Congrats on another beautiful article, Up, awesome, interesting, useful, shared, pinned.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mike. Thank you. It is a beautiful region of Italy. We really enjoyed our trek through the Dolomites. Thanks so much for the vote and share.

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 3 years ago from London

      Wonderful hub, Bill! Such a beautiful place and you photos are amazing! Voted and shared!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Joe. I have to tell you that since we started traveling to Italy I have become very interested in the history of this area during WWI and WWII. I was fascinated to learn about the role that Sicily played in WWII and we had an opportunity to learn about it first hand from our hosts in southern Sicily. The fact that the Dolomites were the site of a 3 year battle was also fascinating due to the topography of the area. It just amazes me that Austria and Italy were battling for these mountains 100 years ago.

      This is just another reason why I love Italy. It's not just beautiful but there is so much history there. Many thanks for the shares, votes, etc. I hope you are doing well. Have a great weekend.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Bill, this was indeed a real treat. I've really been fascinated with Italy ever since two major events happened--first, my son's three-month grad school quarter in Italy and his adventurous trek through several European countries, and, second, doing one of the smartest things I've ever done since joining HubPages--following you and your work!

      Because of my collegiate studies and intrigue with Germany's battle strategies in both World Wars, this particular hub is perhaps the most compelling piece of yours that I've read. As I studied your words and gazed upon the majestic and, yes, treacherous peaks of the Dolomites, I imagined the cold, harsh reality of both the Austrian and Italian soldiers as they did battle with each other as well as themselves during the years of military strife. This is the first time I've ever heard of this battle, and it will stick in my mind for a long time. In fact, I'm making a note to see if I can pick up any books at the library about the battles fought in this region.

      Thanks for a brilliant presentation in both words and imagery, Bill! Voted up and across, minus funny, socially and HP-site shared!

      Aloha, my friend!

      ~Joe

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Linda. The views were amazing but the history of this area was so fascinating. I t was a great day trip from Venice and I wish we had more time in the are to explore more, maybe next time. Thanks for stopping by and the share, have a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi FA. It was exciting to be walking on the troop trail knowing that 100 years ago the Austrians and Italians were waging a war on top of this mountain. I really was a beautiful are. Thank so much for the vote, pin, etc. Have a great weekend.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This hub contains fascinating information, Bill. I loved reading about the history of the area. How amazing to hear of a battle on top of a mountain! The photos are great, too. I'll share this hub.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      What great history and a breathtaking view of the rugged terrain. It must have been impressive to be able to walk in the footsteps of those who fought so many years ago. Voted up and more, plus pinned.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks srsddn. Yeah, you need to get to the top to appreciate the views. It's a beautiful area of Italy that most visitors overlook. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      bdegiulio, What gives an apparently deserted look from a distance has so much of history linked to it. I can imagine the top view but one really needs to visit to have a full feeling. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful place. Awesome.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey Bill. Yeah, I'm trying to go after some of the less well known places that we have been. This place was unbelievable. Looking up at the top of Mount Lagazuoi from the pass was quite the adrenaline rush. We didn't have the greatest weather but it was good enough to really appreciate the beauty of the area. I would love to go back and spend a few days just in this area. Have a great weekend.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Crafty. We have been very fortunate to have traveled to Italy. It has become somewhat addicting. And yes, we have so many wonderful memories. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow! Excellent article. You narrowed the scope a bit and taught us about a site most have never heard of. Great pics and information, Bill. Thank you and have a great weekend.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      What fun and great pictures! How fortunate to be able to travel to Italy. What a wonderful trip and memories for a lifetime.

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