This is an excerpt from the book “Südtirol and Dolomites”.
Situated amidst the beautiful Southern Alpine region of South Tyrol at the borders of Italy, Austria and Switzerland, Venosta Valley is characterized by its unique arid climate, family-friendly ski resorts and by some of the highest mountains in the entire Alps.
Venosta Valley, the place of discovery of the 5000 year old ice mummy Ötzi, 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, while the valley itself is home to some of the oldest churches and cloisters in Central Europe.
Venosta Valley in South Tyrol 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 biggest trace of the Roman Empire is the ancient Roman trade route Via Claudia Augusta, which leads right through the valley and still exists in places. Today it is a highlight for cyclists, who love to cycle the 80 km downhill route from the Resia/Reschen pass or Malles/Mals to Merano/Meran, passing many historical sites.
The East-West valley offers visitors an arid mountain side and a green mountain side, 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.
Reschenpass – Resia Pass
The villages of Resia/Reschen, Curon/Graun and San Valentino/St. Valentin are 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 like kite surfers and snowkite surfers sand all those who like to spend their holidays by the water. The side valleys Vallelunga/Langtaufers and Roja/Rojen have hardly been exploited for touristic purposes and remain quiet resorts for holidaymakers in search of peace and unspoilt 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.
Obervinschgau – Upper Venosta Valley
The medieval town walls of Glorenza/Glurns, the smallest place in South Tyrol to bear the title of town, seven towers at Malles/Mals, the Coira Castle guarding the valley at Sluderno/Schluderns, and the Monte Maria monastery gleaming white above Burgusio/Burgeis are 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, for example shady mountainside trails beside old irrigation channels with 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.
Prad am Stilfersjoch – Prato allo Stelvio
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, up to Montechiaro Alpine pasture while 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.
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. Home to a magnificent range of flora and fauna, the Stelvio National Park 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 funpark and a 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 freerider. 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. On and around the Ortles, visitors can take advantage of themed trails, mountain hikes and alpine climbs to suit all levels of difficulty and challenge.
Schlander Laas – Silandro Lasa
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, while 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.
Latsch Martelltal – Laces Val Martello
With 315 days of sunshine hikers, biker and climbers will 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 including the so-called ‘Waalwege’, themed walks and excursions, guided tours and walks up to the mountain shelters and Alpine huts.
At the entrance to the Martello Valley and Laces, 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, lies one of the most diverse network of paths to be found anywhere in the Alps.
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 in the Laces Aqua Forum pools creating a total outdoor summer holiday experience. In winter, skiers take off from the nearby skiing areas and 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 and the second-largest nature reserve in size in the Alpine region, enclosing 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.
Kastelbell Tschars – Castelbello Ciardes
The Castelbello Castle and the Juval Castles dominate the landscape in the lower part of the Venosta Valley. The 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 and yield delicate, aromatic white wines, while the views along the irrigation channel paths range from the incredibly high summits in the west of South Tyrol to the Dolomites.