We are Ladins

Everything you should know about Ladin people.

The situation hasn’t changed at all since last year. Even today, as a year ago, we are locked in the house, or almost. For months the main topic has been one: Coronavirus.
Isn’t that boring? There are still so many things one could speak about. That’s exactly what we’re going to do today: we’re going to tell you a little bit about what we, Ladins, are made of, about our habits, our vices and flaws, our customs and our language.

Does it sound good to you? Well, here we go!

Let’s start by telling you how and where this language comes from, yes you read that right, it is a language and not a dialect. We Ladins are really proud of it, and we almost offend ourselves if you call it a dialect. 😉

Ladin is a Rhaeto-Roman language, belonging to the same family as Italian, French, Spanish… It was born in the first century A.D. from the encounter between the Latin of the conquering Romans and the ancient languages spoken by the native Rhaetian and Celtic tribes. Vulgar Latin and Rhaetian language merged, et voilà, Ladin was born. The Ladin language of the past was obviously very different from how we speak it nowadays but as we all know, every spoken language is constantly evolving.
The language survived, thanks also to our position and to the limited mobility of the past. The narrow valleys, often surrounded by mountains, did not make it easy to move around, so there was no way to mix with other populations and cultures, and Ladin has solidified and maintained itself over time.

The Ladin flag

We are about 30,000 Ladins divided into 5 valleys around the Sella Group (Val Badia, Val Gardena, Val di Fassa, Livinallongo, Ampezzo).

Each valley has its own idioms. Sometimes words can be completely different from one valley to another. But among Ladins we understand each other. 😉
The “Grijuns” in Switzerland and the “Friulani” (from Friuli) speak Ladin as well.

Often, people ask us if we speak Ladin among ourselves. Yes, that’s right, with family and friends, at work and wherever possible we speak, think and dream in Ladin. At school it’s a bit different since we have an equal school-system, that means that half of the lessons are held in Italian and the other half in German. We only speak and learn Ladin two hours a week.

You know what Ladins enjoy most? Listening to people who think we don’t understand them and maybe even spit on us. All of a sudden we start speaking in Italian or German to make them understand that we do understand them, that’s what makes it real fun!!

But who are these Ladins really?

Well, we are quite introverted, cold, and distant people, even if we have improved over time. But generally, we are introverted and reserved, we never show too many feelings. This does not mean, however, that we are not kind, friendly, loving, and funny.
Hard workers, that’s what we are, once farmers, nowadays hut keepers, hoteliers, and whatever concerns tourism.
Growing up multilingual. We speak Ladin, Italian, German and most of us also English. You should know, however, that we do make mistakes and if you pay attention, sometimes you will notice strange words, never heard before. Well, it will be one of those “ladinized” words, because we like to mix up languages, and we often take the first word that comes in our minds! 😅
We are mountain and nature lovers, and we are proud of our homeland.

Ladin people don’t always consider themselves Italians, but certainly not out of malice, simply because we are a little different. We differ in our habits, traditions, culture and obviously in our language. We don’t even consider ourselves Austrians, simply Ladins.

Our favourite dishes are dumplings, “tutres” (fried pancakes filled with spinach or sauerkraut), “cajincì arestis” (half-moon shaped potatoes also fried and filled with spinach or poppy), “cajincì t’ega” ( half-moon shaped ravioli with spinach cooked in water).
In short, all dishes that can’t miss in our mom’s kitchens.
We obviously eat pizza and spaghetti as well. 😋
Would you like to try one of these Ladins dishes? Perfect, here you will find the video of how to make “cajincí arestis”. Try it, and let us know if you like them!
Don’t worry if something went wrong, you will have the possibility to try and learn how to cook some Ladin dishes by choosing our package “The Dolomites foodway”.

By the way, Ladins like to play cards as well, specifically “Batadù” (called “Watten” in German) but also “Mao Mao”, two South Tyrolean games that we won’t even begin to explain, otherwise we’ll never finish.

At village and farmers’ events we wear the Tyrolean dress, the so-called “Dirndl” and the “Lederhose”. For religious festivities we wear the “Tracht”, a traditional and ancient dress of great value.

At village events, it is tradition to make “crafuns”, a kind of fried bread, and since it will soon be Easter we get ready to go and collect eggs from the window of the girls for whom we have a crush. From the number of eggs that we will find in front of the window, we will know if she likes us or not. Another Ladin custom. 😊

The “Dirndl”

There are many things to tell about Ladins, but maybe you are getting bored?
How about if we tell you more during your next vacation in the Dolomites?

We are looking forward to it! 😁

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