In 2026, Italy will host the 25th Winter Olympics. The festivities will take place in both Milan and the ski-resort town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. With activities planned throughout the surrounding areas, the Italian government has kicked its Olympic preparations into overdrive. One such initiative is the "Dolomites Low Emission Zone", which stands to limit access to the mountainous region starting in 2024.
Italy’s South Tyrol, Trentino, Belluno, and Veneto provinces presented the plan in October, 2022. Under the proposal, authorities would limit access to the Dolomites by instituting a reservation system to reach the Pordoi, Gardena, Sella, and Campolongo passes by vehicle. Though officials cite the Milano Cortina Olympic Games as the initiative’s driving force, they also hope that the Dolomites Low Emission Zone has a lasting impact.
"In some moments of the year, in the winter and in the summer, we have the steps that are in difficulty,” revealed Zaia, “it is not only a question of traffic and traffic jams but it is also a question of pollution and sustainability.”
South Tyrol Deputy Governor Daniel Alfreider didn’t dance around the issue, though, telling German media outlet TGR Tagesschau, “We want less noise, we want fewer emissions and that requires a new legal construct. Our lawyers and lawyers are working on this together with the ministry."
While the local governments already got the ball rolling, the plan requires approval from federal ministries in Rome before moving forward. If approved, Italy could institute a vehicular quota for the Dolomites region with aims to “exclude particularly noisy vehicles and to set and comply with a maximum volume of traffic.”
Of course, even if adopted, the Dolomites Low Emission Zone wouldn’t go into effect until 2024. We've also seen similar noise-reducing acts proposed in other European countries such as Germany and France. On the other hand, if you have the mountain range on your bucket list, 2023 might be your best chance to tick the box.