Summer is freedom, freedom is distance, and distance is soothing to the eyes: “wow” is the only response to the sight of the jagged peaks that reach imposingly skywards, each one more impressive than the last, as you wiggle your toes in the green grass.
Lush green …
A gently rolling, fairy-tale landscape. The Villanderer Alm is one of the largest and finest high pastures in the Alps. Diversity here is the key, with a landscape that alternates between lush green meadows, moorlands, small lakes and cheerful grassy hillocks. Take off your shoes and simply feel the contrasts offered by the landscape: warm and cold, hard and soft. The most beautiful aspect of the Villanderer Alm is the silence, however. The vital importance of leaving “in peace” the original and the authentic is demonstrated by the diverse landscapes and, not least, by the scattered mountain huts that welcome visitors with delicious traditional fare and refreshing beverages.
... ancient settlements ...
Somewhat further below, where many of the 1,800 or so inhabitants of Villanders live, a number of cultural treasures – besides the stately Gourmet Hotel & Restaurant Steinbock Manor – bear witness to the vibrant life of the village in former times.
In the very centre of the village, “strategically located” so to speak, is the Plunacker: as the Museum Archeopark this site contains highly important archaeological finds. Traces of human settlement extend here from the Middle and New Stone Ages up to the Bronze Age and Roman era. Also worth visiting is the mine gallery: originating from the early Middle Ages, it was worked until 1943.
Typically for South Tyrol, the churches in Villanders are some of the richest achievements of an area noted for its Christian piety, with some dating back to the 14th or even the 13th centuries.
... at the heart of South Tyrol.
Perhaps it is a coincidence, or perhaps our fore-forefathers kept what for us are unsettling truths that we now regard as scientific highlights. A secretive menhir on the Villanderer Berg, remains of hill forts, or the Totenkirchl (Chapel of the Dead) at an altitude of 2,186 metres: noteworthy is the fact that the water holes around this chapel exactly correspond to the point marking the centre of South Tyrol.
Those piously seeking enlightenment have for centuries come up here to what is probably South Tyrol’s oldest place of pilgrimage.