A dream that has been long nurtured has come true', said one of the world's great mountaineers, Reinhold Messner, after hearing news of the recent decision by the World Heritage Committee to grant Italy's famous Dolomites mountains entrance into the prestigious world rankings of the ‘world's most universal' places.
The World Heritage Committee panel voted unanimously for the breathtaking mountain range on June 26, praising it as ‘one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere.' The Dolomites now join other natural wonders such as the Galapagos Islands and manmade ones like Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia and Versailles palace in France.
Messner, who has been scaling the range for decades, helped launched the Dolomite bid in 2004, saying, ‘The Dolomites are unique. They cannot be compared to any other mountain in the world...Their beauty derives from the contrast between the green of the meadows and the vertical rock faces and the composition of the rock itself, which changes colour throughout the day.'
Adding the Dolomites to the roster means that Italy consolidated its position at the top of the UNESCO rankings. Italy now boasts 44 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the historic centres of Rome, Venice, Florence, Siena, Verona, Ferrara, Ravenna, Assisi, Urbino and San Gimignano; the Roman city of Pompeii; the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the Amalfi coast; the Cinque Terre region near Genoa; Puglia's trulli buildings; Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli; the Greek temples in Agrigento; the Etruscan tombs in Cerveteri north of Rome; and the Milan church that houses Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper.