The Ladin people was one of the first to settle the Dolomite region, for reasons of survival, among other things. This is the people that has been responsible for the majority of the care and conservation done over time in an area which has survived almost intact with, all things considered, limited human settlement right up to our own day. In these centuries of life and history - with evidence of pre-Bronze Age life - the Ladins naturally developed both their own identity and their own culture. This identity began to be defined ‘Ladinia’, distinguishing it from the larger and more generic Rhaetic area, with which the inhabitants of the Alps identified as far back as the fifth century BC, generating and refining a very different culture from that of the more northern peoples. Roman domination, ordered by Octavian and implemented by the armies of his stepsons Drusus and Tiberius, alongside military encampments and communication routes to modern day Germany, the famous Via Claudia Augusta, also revolutionized the social and economic system of the Ladins, encompassing agriculture and craftsmanship, introducing a new legal order, improving the economic situation, and modifying the language with the influence of Latin.
Later events and historical twists and turns generated divisions and separations rather than bringing these peoples together. This sometimes diluted a sense of identity which never entirely disappeared, nurtured and preserved constantly as it was by a culture which increased Ladin interest in fine art, music, literature and architecture, cementing a powerful sense of identity between peoples divided by the wars, dictatorships, politics and governments which have succeeded one another over the centuries.
Built at the turn of the last millennium in the face of constraints and delays, today Museum Ladin, in historic Ciastel de Tor in San Martino in Badia, is a thorough overview of Ladin history and culture, while the Ladin cultural institute Micurà de Rü, also in San Martino, deals with scientific, artistic, cultural and educational activities relating to the Ladins and their relationship with other cultures. A Ladin language weekly magazine, “Usc di Ladins”, which is also cutting edge in terms of digital media, completes the area’s cultural information network, reaching almost all Ladin homes and accessible on tablets and smartphones.