Valvenosta, Italy

Starting at 4,500 feet above sea level in the Passo di Resia, this valley, flowing by the Adige River, stretches first south and then east to the beautiful city of Merano. Most Alto Adige valleys are deeply carved through mountains, so their low altitude does not give a good idea of ​​the altitude of the surrounding peaks. At the southern end of Val Venosta are the massifs of Ortles and Cevedale, about 12,000 feet above sea level, while at the north end, Palla Bianca and Similaun are over 11,000 feet above sea level.

Val Venosta is extremely spacious and green with a dozen small centers where you often come across medieval churches and palaces (we follow the valley down and east to Merano). Each village offers a variety of hotels and guesthouses, most of which are consistently reliable in terms of quality and price. At the Curon Venosta Hotel, near the north end of the valley, Stocker Restaurant is a fine example of Alto Adige cuisine and courtesy, offering a good selection of regional dishes and specializing in venison.

Five kilometers (3 miles) from Malles Venosta, near the village of Burgusio, is the 12th-century Monet Mary Abbey, an impressive compound that was the highest of any Benedictine abbey in Europe. Although largely rebuilt in the 15th century, the abbey retains some original features, including a fresco from 1180. Both the monastery and its chapel are open to the public. A good restaurant in Malles is AI Moro (Tel: 047381222; closed Tuesdays and November), informal and inexpensive, and next to the very pleasant Hotel Plavina, which also has a garden and an indoor swimming pool. Just below the Mall is the village of Glorenz, which is still surrounded by medieval walls (rebuilt in the 16th century).

Up above the town of Sluderno, Castello di Coira, built in the 13th century, is the most interesting of the Val Venosta castles, due to its excellent conservation status and the richness of its precious objects (open March 10 to October): : 00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. closed on Mondays) especially check out the armor room. San Sisinio Church in Sisinio village was also built in the 13th century; Coldrano Castle near Silandro dates back to the 16th century.

About 16 km (10 miles) further along the 40th road, Schloss Kastelbell near Castelbello is accurately preserved until the 13th century. The interior is closed for restoration but is scheduled to reopen in spring (call 0473624193 for more information). A good hotel in Naturno is Sunnwies, and just 2 km (1 miles) from Naturno on the way to Passo Resia, you'll find Wiedenplatzer Keller, an excellent, reasonably priced restaurant rich in Alto Adige specialties (Phone: 047387431; closed Tuesdays). Perhaps more so than in the other valleys, the contrast between the lush foliage of the lower slopes and the snowy peaks is particularly striking. In the spring, this region offers a completely magical flowering tree spectacle, as it is the area where pears, apricots and especially apples are grown, of which Alto Adige is the largest regional producer in Europe.

Approaching Merano from the west, the valley is expanding and a large number of vineyards are beginning to appear near the orchards. The gentle landscape and climate of Merano have attracted tourists and holidaymakers since the 18th century, first with the Austrian nobility, then with the bourgeoisies of Vienna and Europe. An important feature of its climate is the lack of humidity and the mildness of its temperature (this is the northern part of northern Europe where palms can grow). Merano has added many new versions to its luxurious 19th-century hotels and is now flourishing in both winter and summer tourism thanks to its excellent skiing facilities set in the surrounding mountain slopes.

The medieval town on the right bank of the Passirio River is centered around Gothic through dei Portici. Nearby are Castello Principesco, a palace built in 1470, which is predominantly fitted with authentic antiques (open 9:00 am to 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm to 4:30 pm; closed on Sundays), and the Duomo, a Gothic-style building from 15th year. century with a curious crenella facade. There are two pleasant walks along the Passirio River, called Passeggiata d & # 39; Inverno and Passeggiata d & Estate (Winter Walk and Summer Walk); the first facing south, the second facing north.

Merano's restaurant tradition revolves around internationally renowned chef Andreas Hellrigl. Unfortunately, Mr Hellrigl decided to retire in 1990, and his restaurant and hotel, Villa Mozart, is now open only as a high-end cooking school, offering one-week courses for students and food lovers from around the world (Tel: 047330630; Fax: 0473 211355) . Especially good restaurants are the expensive Andrea (via Galilei 44, Tel: 047337400; closed on Mondays and most of February) and Flora (via dei Portici 75, Tel: 0473 31484; dinner only; closed on Sunday and February).

The first is perfectly decorated and serving, while the second is slightly less formal, but also slightly cheaper in serving salmon, trout, deer and fine pasta (seasonal specialties are ravioli filled with Pfinfferle mushrooms).

In addition to restaurants, some of the best accommodation in the region can be found in and around Merano. Among the truly remarkable first class hotels are the Castle at Cavour with its large garden and swimming pool, and the Castel Labers, a couple of miles from the city on the road to Scena (with swimming pool and amazing garden).

Another outlying hotel is Castel Freiberg, which has been converted into a 14th-century castle 8 km (5 miles) south of Merano, in the city of Freiberg. Despite its modern conveniences, the medieval atmosphere is still intense and the views are incredible. Take good walks in the surrounding hills.

Approximately 3 km (2 miles) north of Merano and a short distance from the village of Tirolo is Castel Tirolo, built in the 12th century by the counties of Venosta, which later became the rulers of the region. It was in 1363 that their last descendant transferred his property to the Austrian Hapsburgs, who had to rule until 1918 (in 1420 the capital was moved from Merano to Innsbruck).

Although the castle is still inhabited, it can be visited from 1 March to 31 October at. 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. 2am to 5pm (closed on Mondays); Guided tours are available every hour. The most interesting things here are the Romanesque chapel with its 14th-century frescoes; the main entrance door with 12th-century sculptures; and the island of del Trono (throne room), which also offers great views.

The main road, Route 38, leads southeast from Merano directly to Bolzano.

Source by Adrian T Vultur

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