"Bënunì te Gherdëina!" - Welcome to Val Gardena!
We hope you have a nice time here" – where this Rhaetian language is still spoken. The origins of the language go back to the Roman Empire, when the legions marched into Rhaetia. The Latin of the conquerors was mixed with the language of the native Rhaetians. During more than four centuries of Roman rule, this Rhaetian language spread from the Swiss Alps to the Adriatic.
When the Germanic tribes of the Bavarians and Alemanni moved south in the 6th century, the area of the Rhaetian language was split up, leaving enclaves in which the language has survived against all obstacles right down to the present day, e.g. in the canton of Grisons, in the Dolomites (Val Gardena, Val Badia, Val di Fassa, Livinallongo, Cortina) and Friuli. The fact that the Rhaetian language was once much more widespread can be seen from the ancient field and place names found in Val d’Isarco/Eisacktal or the upper Val Venosta/Vinschgau.
Because of the small size of the remaining area, the Ladin language could not develop like other Roman languages, e.g. Portuguese or Provençal, and conversely it was more susceptible to change. Nevertheless, the sounds of the Ladin tongue will continue to be heard in these valleys for generations to come.
Nowadays Rhaeto-Romanic is taught at school as an obligatory school subject. Furthermore books and magazines are published in this language, too. There are also daily programmes on radio and TV.