Tag Archives: Alto Adige

An afternoon of wooden sculptures, beer, and desserts

Valle Isarco and its environs are dotted with so many picturesque villages that it’s difficult to choose which one to go to first. There was always the option of another scenic hike, but on day 2 into our trip, I was on a mission for local brews and Viennese-influenced desserts, all under the pretense of sightseeing and studying the architecture.

Westies in Castelrotto

Is this part of Italy the land of wood-sculpting masters or something? I couldn’t believe how many sculptures we saw in a single afternoon, including this westie in Castelrotto. Mads wasn’t impressed.

Castelrotto / Kastelruth

On the edge of the village of Castelrotto stands a curious-looking sculpture of farm animals, one atop the other (below, left). In Bressanone, a man and his dog looks into a store window.

Farm animal sculpture in Castelrotto Westie-in-Bressanone

Facade of Hotel Elephant

A beautiful fresco graces the facade at Hotel Elephant in Bressanone. Backed by 450 years of history, I bet those walls have a lot of stories to tell.

Chestnut cake with chestnut cream Chestnut mousse chocolate cake

The pedestrian center of Bressanone is small enough for a single visit. Before the parking meter runs out, be sure to stop in at Cafè Pasticceria Pupp for a hot drink and dessert. Their baked treats are divine, but the chestnut cakes are exquisite.

Lunch at AH Brau brewery

AH Brau brewery – the result google spat out when I put in a bunch of search terms. Located right along the highway, several miles northwest of Bressanone, it has a casual atmosphere and a no-fuss menu. They make a seasonal beer along with their usual brew, and it was a chestnut one at the time we visited. Fantastic, and hit the spot for a late lunch.

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Keschtniggl (chestnut festival) in Velturno

Roasting chestnuts at Velturno

Snap, crackle, pop! Every chestnut festival we’ve visited has always been an afternoon of fun, but this one in Velturno was a riot! Beginning mid-October, Keschtniggl (keschtn is local dialect for chestnuts) goes on for about a month with a full program of events and activities for all tastes. Inauguration day was held on the grounds at Velturno Castle at noon, but when we arrived a quarter past 12, it was apparent that things had kicked in much earlier.

Veltuno Castle

There were stands selling apples, pumpkins, wine, handicrafts and chestnuts. Food booths stood in one corner of the garden, where for a small price you could feast on krapfen and other tasty nibbles. A whole lot of german spoken here which caught me off guard, but by the time I started to wonder that maybe we had fallen down the rabbit hole in Wunderland, a piercing sound filled the air and grounded my senses.

Pumpkins for sale

YAHHHHHHH-HOOO-HOOOOOOO!

Schuhplattler

Schuhplattler! Literally translated, the word means shoe beater since the dance involves beating/slapping the flat (in german, platt) sole of a schuh. Tracing its origins to Bavaria and Austria, this “men only” dance was initially a form of courtship to wow the opposite sex. You know how it goes with the male species, they always want to be bigger, badder, and the best, and what girl in her right mind would resist a guy that moves as if he has never had two left feet in his life? Watch the clip. These guys are badass. I am absolutely convinced that this dance should be turned into an exercise video.

Let’s go on the Wasserfallweg!

If you’re in Valle Isarco for the scenery but on a tight schedule, the waterfall trail in Barbiano will give you a bit of everything in a little more than half an hour. We ambled at an easy pace through chestnut groves, farmsteads, and pine forests before reaching the falls, and were treated to utterly stupendous views of the valley and mountain range along the way.

Wasserfallweg in Barbiano
The trail starts right outside Haus Urban (where we were staying).  How cool is that to have a street address named Wasserfallweg or Via delle Cascate!

Wasserfallweg °1
The trail is well marked and goes through beautiful alpine country.

Wasserfallweg °2
Chestnut trees…

Wasserfallweg °3
…but please do not collect the chestnuts, danke! The trees are on private property. At this point you can go left for the lower part of the waterfall (inferiore – 20 minutes) or upper part (superiore – 50 minutes). The upper trail has a steeper climb.

Wasserfallweg °4
Verboten!

Wasserfallweg °6 Wasserfallweg °5
Claimed by a mass of climbing rosebushes, we thought this old farmhouse was vacant until we turned the corner…

Wasserfallweg °7
…to be greeted by this cute little fella and his siblings. They were curious in our presence but a sign in bold print said: Füttern verboten! Sorry, no snack bars for you buddy!

Wasserfallweg °8
Next to the goat pen was a fruit stand selling a punnet of apples for 1€ – honor system style.

Wasserfallweg °9
Again, no gathering chestnuts! From here the trail leads into pine forest, and in a little while you reach the falls.

Wasserfallweg °10

Wasserfallweg °11
It’s possible to do a loop trail via the upper part of the waterfall but that’s for another visit and I know we’ll be back.  Altitude at starting point: 836 meters (2743 feet), and ending point: 1047 meters (3435 feet).