Placed at an altitude of 864 m above sea level and with about 4,000 inhabitants, Auronzo extends over 8 kilometres in the longest valley line in Cadore, for a total area of about 220 square kilometres.
Auronzo di Cadore is a popular tourist destination in summer and winter and can be reached from the south by going along the Venice - Belluno road (exit: Autostrada A27), continuing on Strada Statale 51 bis "di Alemagna", then onto Strada Statale 52 "Carnica".
You can enter the town from the north/north-west by Passo Tre Croci (from Cortina), from Val Pusteria by Carbonin and from Comelico by Passo di Sant’Antonio.
This town includes 11 villages and/or districts: Cima Gogna, Cella, Villapiccola, Villagrande, Riziò, Reane, Pause, Ligonto, Giralba, San Marco, and Misurina. It is bordered to the north by the southern slopes of Monte Aiarnola and to the south by Santa Caterina Lake, which is fed by Ansiei River and formed in the '30s as a result of the construction of the homonymous dam.
Thanks to the dam, Auronzo has a beach and hosts motorboat and canoe competitions.
There are different walking and cycling routes around this lake. You can have a walk here, so you do not have to travel by car, and you can appreciate the surrounding landscape with particular regard to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
From an architectural point of view, there are important places such as the eighteenth-century parish church of Santa Giustina a Villagrande, the largest place of worship in Cadore, the neoclassical church of San Lucano a Villapiccola and the sixteenth-century church of S. Caterina a Cella.
Auronzo is surrounded by mountains such as Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Cadini, Croda dei Toni, and Corno del Doge. These areas are a paradise for climbers and were bone of contention during the Great War. If you go along S.R. 48 "delle Dolomiti" leading to Misurina, you will cross Palus San Marco, where you can enter the Foresta di Somadida, which is currently owned by the Ministry for Agricultural and Forestry Policy and was donated by Cadore to Venice in 1463 in order to obtain the timber needed for the construction of its ships.
Under the rule of the Serenissima, Auronzo was also famous for its lead, zinc and silver mines, which have currently been mined out.
A legend tells of Misurina, daughter of giant King Sorapis. The very capricious little girl claimed that her father gave her the mirror "tuttosò" (I know everything) that belonged to the fairy of Monte Cristallo.
The fairy proposed a deal: she would have given them the mirror only if the King had agreed to become a mountain.
As soon as Misurina grabbed the mirror, King Sorapis underwent the eternal transformation. Only then, the child lost heart and sudden dizziness made her fall with the mirror.
Sorapis’s eyes, which were almost closed, started to cry and his warm tears began to form Misurina Lake.
This legend about the origins of the lake (the "pearl of Cadore", which is how Misurina was dubbed) is undoubtedly about the most famous and popular place in Auronzo.
The name "Misurina", in Ladin "Mesorina", derives from the union of the terms "Meso ai Rin", which means "in the midst of the streams".
In the sixteenth century, it was believed that both Piave and Adige were born from this glacial-origin lake.
This romantic lake, which is about one thousand meters long and three hundred meters wide, lies at an altitude of 1756 m above sea level in one of the most solemn and majestic alpine valleys, surrounded by blackish woods and the Dolomite peaks Piz Popena (3152 m), Cristallino (2775 m – Gruppo del Cristallo), Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Sorapis (3205 m), Cadini and Marmarole.
For centuries, Misurina was disputed by the surrounding towns, the Austrian Empire and the Venetian Republic, because it was an important border crossing and for its alpine pastures, which are still used by four huts.
In the years between the nineteenth and twentieth century, tourism began to grow thanks to the first mountaineers such as Paul Grohmann, and historical figures such as Queen Margherita of Savoy and the poet Giosuè Carducci, who praised this place in several poems.
You can enter Misurina from Cortina by Passo Tre Croci, from Auronzo by Val d'Ansiei and from Val Pusteria by Carbonin.
Mountain enthusiasts have a wide choice. They can have simple walks around the lake on foot or by boat, up to the slope of the northern sides of Tre Cime, which made Misurina popular throughout the world. Cristallo, Cadini, Sorapis, Croda dei Toni and Popena with the aiguille dedicated to Edmondo De Amicis are other important places.
The main trips include the one to Col de Varda by chairlift, with a wonderful view on the Gruppo del Cristallo, the ascent to Monte Piana and the thrilling trip to the foot of Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
From winter until late spring, you can ski on ski runs, cross-country ski runs and ski mountaineering tracks, where you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes under the bright sunlight.
The famous Monte Piana (2324 m) is about six kilometres from Misurina. From its top, you can admire the eastern Dolomites and the glaciers of Valle Aurina. In October 1917, Italians and Austrians fought fiercely here. A plaque and a cross were erected in remembrance of our fallen soldiers.