The origins of the Ladin language date back to 15 BC, when the Romans spread their empire to the north, bringing with them their language, Latin. At the time that the Romans settled in our valley, a Rhaetian dialect was spoken here, which became amalgamated with the vulgar Latin of the conquerors. The isolated valley location played a crucial role in consolidating this new language and also meant that the language remained largely unaffected by foreign influences during the Migration Period in the Early Middle Ages. The once large linguistic area started to break up though, and the language itself continued to be spoken in just a few valleys. This explains why the regions in which Ladin is still spoken today – Switzerland, Dolomites, Comelico and Friuli – are spread so far apart.
The period from the Late Middle Ages to the 19th Century was characterised by political unrest, the separation of areas and numerous changes in political power, until 1813 when all Ladin valleys came under the power of the Habsburg Empire, which heralded a long period of peace and tranquillity for our troubled population.
The tragic events of the 20th Century also marked the life and culture of the Ladin people: World War I and the subsequent integration of South Tirol in Italy, the event of fascism (which caused the Ladins to be split into three provinces - Bolzano, Trento and Belluno) and the associated Italianisation, the South Tyrol Option Agreement and, last but not least, World War II. The Ladins of the Bolzano province (but not those of other provinces) were not recognised as an independent linguistic group until 1951.
It is therefore no wonder that the Ladin identity has become so strong over the years and that so many initiatives have been implemented to protect the language and culture. For instance, a special teaching system, called a "paritetic system", has been developed for schools, two cultural institutes, "Majon di Fascegn" (Vigo di Fassa) and "Micurá de Rü" (San Martino in Badia) have been set up, Ladin radio and TV programmes have been introduced to the schedule and the Ladin weekly newspaper "La Usc di Ladins" (The Voice of the Ladins) founded. Furthermore, all public administration papers and documents are now published in three languages: German, Italian and Ladin.