Ladin culture and language

Visiting a foreign land does not merely entail discovering unusual food combinations and enchanting landscapes, but also learning about ancient and unknown languages. Italy is a well-known kaleidoscope of colours and captivating images, a jumble of strong traditions and each region will warmly welcome you.

Alta Badia amazes for its vastness and the intensity of its light, however only a few truly try and find out more about its Ladin heritage.

Ladin language dates back to 15 b.C. and is spoken in Val Badia, around the Sella area, in Friuli and in the Grigioni Canton in Switzerland. It is the third official language in Alto Adige, after Italian and German. There are five languages known: Maréo/Badiot (Val Badia), Gherdëina (Val Gardena), Fascian (Val di Fassa), Anpezan (Ampezzo) and Fodom (Livinallongo). 

After having visited this region, what will you retain about this language? Will you be able to hear some idioms from the locals during your stay? You will most certainly recollect one word, and that is Ciasa. Ciasa means “home” and in your hotel it stands for great attention for details and a warm welcome, from breakfast with natural, home-made products, to room decoration where great care is taken to give you the experience of your life and make you feel at home. 

Most of Ladin traditions find connections with religious celebrations, for the Ladin people are devout catholic. Among them, here are a few:

„La granara de saresc" also known as „granara dal belorì"

On Palm Sunday,  children go to church with brooms made with tree branches. The priest blesses them and the kids hang them to their home fences. This prevents bad events from happening. It is important for the “granara” (the broom) never to fall on the ground.

„Peché" or „cufé"

During Easter, men play "cufè" with some coloured eggs. The aim is that of earning the biggest number of eggs. The participants hit the tip of the opponent’s egg with their own egg. The person whose egg is still intact wins the one belonging to his opponent. This game is also known as "Segra dai Üs" which means “Egg Festival.”

„Jí a üs" – picking up eggs

On Easter Monday, young guys go to the girls in their own hamlet, hoping to receive as many eggs as possible. The girls usually give 4 eggs to a nice guy, 6 to their lover and 12 to their fiancé. This tradition goes back to a time when eggs were considered a delicacy. These same eggs were then used for the "Pechè" and "Cufè" games.

Feast of Santa Maria dal Ciüf

"Santa Maria dal Ciüf" means "Saint Mary of the Flowers" and represents one of the nicest feast days in Alta Badia. Women go to church with baskets full of herbs, flour and salt to have it blessed by the priest. When the first storm comes, these baskets are then burnt.

Le ćiaval y la iarina (the horse and the hen)

On All Saints Day, male children receive sweet bread in the shape of a horse from their godfather, and the little girls receive one in the shape of a hen.

La "Donacia" or "Poscignara"

For Epiphany, young girls dress up as "Poscignara", an old lady similar to a witch who goes from door to door, sending ghosts and the past year away. She is usually hunchback, has only one tooth and has a big basket, with which she wants to take children away. It is customary to offer the old lady something to drink and eat.


"Tlocheradures" is a typical cake, similar to Krapfen, and cooking it takes quite some time. Since these cakes are seldom produced, these are really sought-after and young people go from door to door looking for bites of it. It was customary to do so wearing a fancy dress and making noise with some bells. In addition to this, stopping was mandatory where pretty girls were staying, then people danced and sung all night long. 

Several events celebrating this culture also take place during the year, among which music festivals such as the “Ćiastel dla Müjiga” (in the Ciastel Colz of La Villa), the “Paisc in festa” in San Cassiano, the culinary-cultural event “ARTemoziun”, an exceptional adventure where you can view and admire eight works of art whilst walking, explained by an expert. Each work is associated with a special dish, prepared in a restaurant from Alta Badia.  This visit finishes at the “Ursus ladinicus” Museum in San Cassiano, which will be exceptionally open in the evening, too. The “Leonhardiritt”, a horse riding event taking place in San Leonardo a Badia in the autumn is also worth mentioning.

The Carnival Cup, a fancy dress competition with the most original means of transportation will take place from 15 February. From 15 to 22 March you can find the "Roda dles Saus - Rifugi e Sapori Antichi" (Mountain Huts and Ancient Flavours), a Skisafari from one hut to the other, in search of the most traditional dishes of the Ladin tradition, accompanied by the exquisite wines from Alto Adige. 

For further information on Ladin culture and languages, you can visit the Istituto Culturale Ladino, or the Istituto ladino “Micurà de Rü” in San Martino in Badia  - which takes its name from the Ladin scientist Micurà de Rü, aka Nikolaus Bacher (1789 – 1814) – and the Ladin Ćiastel de Tor Museum, in San Martino, as well.