Cortina and its million-years geological history: learn more through fossils, rocks, dedicated hikes and exhibitions

Cortina and its million-years geological history: learn more through fossils, rocks, dedicated hikes and exhibitions

Geology is one of the many, interesting approaches to discover more about the Dolomites. The shape of the rocks, their composition and the fossils they contain can tell a lot about the history of the place, what it used to be millions of years ago and how it transformed.

Indeed, the Dolomites owe their name to the famous geologist Deodat de Dolomieu, the first to study this type of rock and recognise its uniqueness 220 years ago, in 1791.

In Cortina, a hike facing spectacular rocks and a visit to the Rinaldo Zardini Paleontological museum are a great way to learn about the history and formation of the Dolomites.

The Rinaldo Zardini is a small but very interesting museum: it contains millions of years of history of life on earth in the form of fossils. Surprisingly, the most common fossils that can be found in the Dolomites are of marine animals. Indeed, this region used to be the bottom of an ocean before powerful tectonic movements elevated and folded rock masses forming the Dolomite mountains and trapping the fossils of fish, molluscs and coral in the process.

Rinaldo Zardini was a local passionate fossil collector whose studies and intuitions made him gain an honorary university degree in Natural Sciences. Today, the museum showcases one of the largest collections of fossils in existence

From August to October 2021, Cortina’s Palaeontological Museum will host an exhibition, organised by the Fondazione G. Angelini with the patronage of the Municipality of Cortina d’Ampezzo, on Deodat de Dolomieu’s travel to the Dolomites in 1789. Based on the notes on his travel diary, letters, notes and drawings, the exhibition will celebrate Dolomieu and his trip, creating a dialogue between the new exhibits and the pieces of the museum’s permanent collections.

Several areas in Cortina are ideal to see for one-self the geological marvels of the area. One of them is the Dolomieu Trail, on Mount Faloria, offering stunning views on Cortina and some of its most famous mountains as well as on cliffs where it is possible to appreciate the different layers forming the dolomite rocks.


Further information about the Paleontological Museum here.

Further information about the panoramic Dolomieu Trail here.


Photo credits: Michele Da Pozzo


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