Gherdëina is one of five valleys with a majority of Ladin speakers (two of these valleys are in South Tyrol). The form of the Ladin language spoken in this valley is called Gardenese in Italian, Grödnerisch in German and Gherdëina in Ladin.
The woodcarving industry has flourished in Gherdëina since the 17th century. Since the 19th century, statues and altars carved in the area have been shipped to Catholic churches throughout the world. In the 18th century, besides religious statuettes, the production of woodcarved figurines of genre art was widespread in the valley. Among them statuettes of beggars generally in pairs (female and male), four seasons, watchstands were very popular. In the 19th and 20th century, carving of wooden toys was such a widespread occupation in all Gardenese families that Amelia Edwards called Urtijëi the "capital of Toyland." One of the valley's best-known products is the peg wooden doll which was popular all over Europe and America in the 19th century.
In one of her many trips Margaret Warner Morley went to Europe to Gherdëina where she was inspired to write the novel Donkey John of the toy valley.