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.
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.
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.
A beautiful fresco graces the facade at 4-star Hotel Elephant in Bressanone. At the entrance, a mosaic elephant welcomes guests.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.