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Agriculture in Alta Badia

From nature-loving rural life to ecologically sustainable tourism

Sotciastel in Badia

The first traces of agricultural activities in Alta Badia, the finds at Sotciastel in Badia, date back to the Iron Age. At that time, the Raetians, a people we know little about until today, inhabited the area of the Dolomites. With the colonisation of the Dolomites by the Romans (approx. 15 AD), the Rhaetian inhabitants retreated to the higher and more barren areas of the valley. Tough beginnings were followed by centuries of peace and development. The Romans introduced handy innovations in agriculture and architecture.

"Viles" at the Sas dla Crusc's foothills

In the mountainous regions of the Dolomites the first agricultural settlements were founded – called the viles. These were inhabited mainly by families or groups of families. It is impressive how much the farmers of that time knew about their environment. In avalanche or landslide hazard zones, the forest was left untouched. The houses were built in locations where they were safe from torrential rivers and strong winds, close to a well and on solid grounds. When building the houses, they considered the maximum sun exposure, amounts of rain, the cold (no apertures towards north or in the direction of the wind) and snow in winter (the roofs were tilted by approx. 25°C).

Field work in Alta Badia

Field work was hard and yielded little. Often, the farmer was just able to produce the bare minimum that was necessary to ensure the survival of his family. A few animals such as sheep and cows were kept for their milk (they were seldomly slaughtered and when they were, it was an event of high significance) and represented their only wealth. Farmers were required to produce everything by themselves, had to adapt to every situation and had to be fearless.
Of course, they could count on the support and help of their neighbours. The farm life of the Ladin ethnic groups remained almost unchanged until the early 1900s.

Wonderful view of the Mezdì valley

The 19th century brought tourism and over the years, Alta Badia evolved into one of the most popular tourism destinations in the Alps. In this context, it is worth mentioning that in Alta Badia, tourism and agriculture go hand in hand and together contribute to the sustainable development of our region. This collaboration has made it possible to retain the unique mountain landscape almost unspoilt up to this day.