Built from the 13th to 15th century, Dreikirchen, aka Tre Chiese (3 churches) is another trail destination that is easily reached from Barbiano. Dedicated to Santa Maddalena, Gertrude and San Niccolò, the cluster of churches sits on a single foundation, its gothic details looking like something you might imagine out of a Grimms’ fairy tale. Getting there is about 3 times longer than the waterfall trail, but it’s worth the extra effort and easy enough for the whole family. From our b&b at the south end of Barbiano, we headed north through town along the chestnut trail (Keschtnweg), then followed the Dreikirchen signs that pointed the way.
Edit: Information on trails in Valle Isarco can be found here – Valley of trails
Reasons to love Barbiano
When a holiday exceeds our expectations I’m compelled to jot down a list of all the reasons why. If you’re thinking of a stay in Barbiano, you might find this helpful.
- The village is small, rural, quaint, and on the sunnier (western) side of Valle Isarco
- The strangely peculiar leaning church tower (seen in video clip below)
- It has a tiny green grocer within walking distance from hotels and appartments
- It has a GREAT bakery that makes german-influenced breads and pastries
- Restaurants, bars and cafes are within walking distance (or a couple minutes drive)
- A lot of trails branch off from Barbiano, with the chestnut trail running right through it
- Clean, fresh air, even if during the period when the cows have returned for winter, it might get a bit pungent depending on which way the wind blows.
You know you’re in serious milk territory when farmers drop off gigantic steel barrels full of raw fresh milk (you can hear the tractors pulling their precious load in the mornings). Not long afterwards, the co-op comes by to pump the milk into a huge tank.
Roadside chestnut-roasting stand next to the b&b. Perfect timing after a day of hiking.
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 Hotel Elephant in Bressanone. Backed by 450 years of history, I bet those walls have a lot of stories to tell.
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.