Venosta Valley – a magic Valley- a magic train system

Venosta Valley
Venosta Valley train – Photo STA/Riller – from

Venosta Valley is amidst the beautiful Southern Alpine region of South Tyrol at the borders of Italy, Austria, and Switzerland.

It has a unique arid climate. It has also family-friendly ski resorts, and by some of the highest mountains in the entire Alps.

Venosta Valley is the place of discovery of the 5000-year-old ice mummy Ötzi.

It is also a region of numerous hiking trails, paths, and serpentines for hikers, Nordic Walkers, and mountain bikers.

Spectacular mountain ranges such as Ortles-Cevedale, Sesvenna, or the Ötztal Alps characterize the steep landscape in South Tyrol. The valley itself is home to some of the oldest churches and cloisters in Central Europe.

Venosta Valley was formerly an area of transit between South and North dating from ancient times, and at the same time an area of retreat, due to its high mountains.

Therefore many buildings were erected, and very few were destroyed.

The ancient Roman trade route Via Claudia Augusta is the biggest trace of the Roman Empire. It leads right through the valley and still exists in places.

Today it is a highlight for cyclists. They love to cycle the 80 km downhill route from the Resia/Reschen pass or Malles/Mals to Merano/Meran, passing many historical sites. The uphill drive with the train facilitates the journey.

The East-West valley offers visitors an arid mountainside and a green mountainside, each of which offers its own fantastic advantages.

Venosta Valley in South Tyrol offers a wide variety of high-quality accommodations, from B&Bs to 5-star hotels, from farm holidays to camping, glamping, and private rooms for let, all of the highest quality in their categories.

This is an excerpt from the book “Südtirol and Dolomites”.

Venosta Valley: Reschenpass – Resia Pass
Venosta Valley
Reschensee Reschenpass

The villages of Resia/Reschen, Curon/Graun, and San Valentino/St. Valentin is located along the old Roman imperial road, the Via Claudia Augusta, on the border between Italy, Austria, and Switzerland.

The unique location between different cultures has characterized the people and their country. The centre of the region is the drowned Romanesque tower that juts from Resia Lake.

The big spectacular lake in the Resia Pass holiday area attires enthusiasts of uncommon sports. Kite surfers and snow-kite surfers sand like to spend their holidays by the water.

The side valleys Vallelunga/Langtaufers and Roja/Rojen have hardly been exploited for touristic purposes. They remain quiet resorts for holidaymakers in search of peace and unspoiled nature.

In winter snow is guaranteed at elevations beyond 4,600ft/1,400m. 3 ski resorts, 2 countries, 1 ski pass, 117 km of runs, 25 cable cars, and lifts, all incorporated into the Resia Pass Ski Paradise.

Venosta Valley: Obervinschgau – Upper Venosta Valley
Venosta Valley
Abbazia Santa Maria Obervinschgau

The medieval town walls of Glorenza/Glurns is the smallest place in South Tyrol to bear the title of town. Seven towers at Malles/Mals, the Coira Castle guard the valley at Sluderno/Schluderns. The Monte Maria monastery gleaming white above Burgusio/Burgeis are all just a few of the cultural gems which beckon here.
Meadows, mountain farms, and pretty hospitable villages testify to the area’s stubborn pride.

The area offers plenty for nature lovers who prefer relaxing pursuits. Shady mountainside trails beside old irrigation channels offer spectacular views across to the glacier-clad summits in the Ortles massif.

In winter the valleys of Mazia/Matsch, Slingia/Schlinig, Planol/Planeil, and Tubre/Taufers in the Monastero/Müster Valley attract snowshoeing, Alpine ski touring and winter hiking enthusiasts.

The Venosta Valley is the driest and sunniest valley in the entire Alpine region. Most popular among families is the sun-drenched Watles ski area.

Venosta Valley: Prad am Stilfersjoch – Prato allo Stelvio
Venosta Valley
Prad am Stilfersjoch

Prato Allo Stelvio is the ideal point of departure for some of the most spectacular and challenging hikes, mountain climbs or ski tours in the entire Alps. This lively mountain village is situated at the foot of the Stelvio National Park. It stretches from Spondiga at 900 meters up to Montechiaro Masi at an altitude of 1,500 meters.

The picturesque villages of Agumes and Montechiaro extend along the slopes of the Stelvio National Park. They arrive up to Montechiaro Alpine pasture. The imposing ruins of the old fort of Lichtenberg Castle dominate the scene up on the hill above the town.

At the acquaprad Park Visitors’ Center in the town, the vital role played by water in the area is described in an interactive presentation.

Venosta Valley: Ortler Stelvio National Park
Venosta Valley
Trafoi Ortler Stelvio National Park

With two skiing areas in Solda/Sulden and Trafoi, the Ortles region is truly a top-class location for winter sports.

The Stelvio National Park is home to a magnificent range of flora and fauna. It includes the 3,905-meter Ortles and the other five 3,500 m+ peaks in the Ortles group.

The expansive Solda ski area offers winter holidaymakers 44 km of varied pistes, a fun park, and reliable modern infrastructure at more than 3,000 m above sea level.

The ski area at Trafoi is an idyllic family-friendly area in the Stelvio National Park. The high-Alpine mountain world of Solda and Trafoi is not only a paradise for skiers, snowboarders, and free-rider. Challenging summits await experienced Alpine skiers. Those wishing to explore the snowy mountain landscape at a more leisurely pace can enjoy winter walks and snowshoe hikes.

A huge number of paths and mountain trails enable visitors to explore the multi-faceted cultural landscape of this unique region by foot, mountain bike or road bike.

With a network of over 250 km of marked trails, the diverse high-Alpine landscape of the Stelvio National Park forms one of the most popular walking areas in South Tyrol.

Visitors can take advantage of themed trails, mountain hikes, and alpine climbs to suit all levels of difficulty and challenge on and around the Ortles.

Venosta Valley Schlander  Laas – Silandro Lasa
Schlander Laas
Schlander Laas

White marble from Lasa, apricots, and apples from the Silandro area are well-known and much sought-after. Here the steppe-like landscape of the Monte Sole Mountain has strongly influenced the character of the people here. Discover the charm of the area on saunter around the main village of the valley, Silandro/Schlanders, and Lasa/Laas. The Stelvio National Park to the south beckons with challenging mountain and climbing tours amid rugged natural landscapes.

Relaxing walks beside the irrigation channels flowing across the slopes of the sun-drenched Sonnenberg on the valley’s northern side are a delight for nature lovers.

The Silandro-Lasa holiday area offers accommodation of the most diverse type, but always of the highest quality. From nature holidays on farms, relaxed camping holidays, apartments or half-board up to high-end wellness hotels.

Venosta Valley: Latsch Martelltal – Laces Val Martello

Bikers and climbers find ideal conditions for an active holiday in the region, Laces-Val Martello.

There are trails to suit everyone: undemanding itineraries for the family to explore. They include the so-called ‘Waalwege’, themed walks and excursions, guided tours and walks up to the mountain shelters and Alpine huts.

One of the most diverse networks of paths anywhere in the Alps lies at the entrance to the Martello Valley and Laces.

It’s between the ridges of the Monte Sole mountain and those of the Monte Tramontana, just below the Stelvio National Park and the Texel Mountain Nature Reserve.

Besides the network of hiking and biking trails, the wide range of outdoor sporting options in the Laces and Martello holiday region include climbing, river rafting, swimming, and sheer fun.

The Laces Aqua Forum pools create a total outdoor summer holiday experience. In winter, skiers take off from the nearby skiing areas. Cross-country skiing enthusiasts turn out in droves on the Nordic Center for cross-country skiing in the Martello Valley.

The Stelvio National Park is the largest protected area in Italy. It’s also the second-largest nature reserve in size in the Alpine region. It encloses the entire Ortler Mountain Group within its boundaries together with some of the highest peaks in the region.

The quiet and pristine mountains of the Martello Valley attract both nature lovers and tourists in search of peace and tranquillity.

Venosta Valley: Kastelbell Tschars – Castelbello Ciardes
Kastelbell Tschars
Kastelbell Tschars

The Castelbello Castle and the Juval Castles dominate the landscape in the lower part of the Venosta Valley. One is a cultural venue, gallery, and landmark. The other the summer residence of the great mountaineer Reinhold Messner, and also accommodates part of his Messner Mountain Museum.

The soils on the sunny side of the Venosta Valley between Castelbello/Kastelbell and Ciardes/Tschars are made up of sand and clay.

They soil above all yield delicate, aromatic white wines.

The views along the irrigation channel paths range from the incredibly high summits in the west of South Tyrol to the Dolomites.

Inauguration of the line on 1st July 1906 – Llorenzi – Opera propria – CC BY-SA 4.0
Val Venosta railway

With 2 million passengers per year, the Val Venosta railway is a success story for sustainable mobility in South Tyrol.

On 5 May 2005, a new era began in Val Venosta. On this date, a train traveled again for the first time from Merano to Malles. This started a success story that continues today.

Today, 15 years later, the railroad enjoys great popularity among commuters, students, and guests. Now about 2 million passengers a year travel on this railway.

The next chapter in the history of the Val Venosta railway will open with its electrification, which will allow for the use of new trains and will offer more space and more comfort after the completion of the works.

As early as July 1, 1906, a railway connected Merano to Malles four times a day. After the end of the First World War, the Italian Railways took over the management of the Val Venosta railway line. However, these wanted to lighten their structure and eliminate the so-called “dry branches” in the suburbs. For this reason, on June 9, 1990, the last train crossed the valley.

The then President Luis Durnwalder and representatives of Municipalities and organizations of Val Venosta on May 5, 2005 at the inauguration of the line. – Foto STA/Arno Pertl
Motor for society, economy, and tourism

Subsequently, the Province of Bolzano acquired the railway line. On its behalf, STA – Structures Transport Alto Adige Spa, owned by the Province, brought the entire line to modern standards and purchased modern rolling stock.

“The great success of the Val Venosta railway was barely foreseeable at that time.

Today the railway has become an integral part of the daily life of the valley. Especially students, commuters, and tourists regularly travel by train through the Val Venosta and renounce their own auto. This makes the Val Venosta railway not only an important component for sustainable mobility but also an engine for society, the economy, and tourism throughout the valley.

New chapter: electrification of the Val Venosta railway

After the capacity limit of the 11 Diesel trains, with about one million kilometers traveled, has long been reached, in December 2014 the provincial government decided to electrify the Val Venosta railway line.

After the completion of the works, probably at the end of 2022, trains in 6 parts will travel along the valley, just like in the rest of the province.

These offer passengers more space and more comfort. “Furthermore, it will be possible to travel directly from Malles to Bolzano and then to Innsbruck, Lienz, and Ala, without changing trains and without technical restrictions. This will open a new chapter in the success story of the Val Venosta railway”.