Coming to South Tyrol I was expecting a more monotonous view compared to the colourful sight of the Appennine beech woods. On the contrary, in october and november the alpine landscape takes on the warm autumn shades, too. Here and there, the evergreen forest turns to flame red and ochre thanks to larches, which unlike other conifers become reddish and eventually lose their needles.
The soil seems to be smoking, like the slopes of a volcano after an eruption. Whenever the clouds clear a little, the contrast of the blue sky with the gray and white snow-sprinkled peaks is stunning. I had never seen the Dolomites this way, and I’m not just referring to the colours of the landscape.
There’s no one around on All Saints weekend. In Selva Gardena and the rest of the valley most places are closed, services reduced to the minimum. But this is a cheap price to pay for the chance to enjoy nature without the chaos of August or winter. This is also maintenance time for refuges and tourist facilities. Everything will be ready before the opening of the ski season, but we won’t be there. We’re not fans of ski holidays. The mountains for us only, the silence: this is our ideal vacation. Three days to unplug, and all we want is relax with three easy walks:
1) Vallunga (Selva Gardena)
From the centre of Selva Gardena follow signs for Vallunga. From the parking go past the church of St. Silvestro to Prà da Rì, along an easy path which leads into Puez-Odle natural park. On Mount Stevia, on the left side, the ruins of Castle Wolkenstein can be seen.
It’s an easy and flat trail and the walk takes about an hour. It’s another 2 hours from Vallunga to refuge Puez, but we’ll keep it for next time. It’s already mid-afternoon and days are shorter now, the weather unstable.
2) Naturonda (Sella Pass)
Starting from Sella Pass follow trail n.526 at the bottom of Sassolungo through the Città dei Sassi (Stone City), then through the pasture land to refuge Comici and back on the parallel trail n.528. The area is populated by marmots, but of course they will be in hybernation until April.
3) Convent of Sabiona (Chiusa)
After a stroll in the center of Chiusa, with QR codes everywhere for sightseeing information, we take the stairway trail which in half an hour will take us to the XI century benedictine convent. We walk by the castle, unfortunately not open to the public, and continue to the top of the hill.
Three out of the four churches of the convent are open to the public. The monastic complex is massive, surrounded by crenellated walls, so that seeing it from the road we had assumed it was another castle. In fact, the building was actually occupied by soldiers and used for defensive purposes on two occasions during its history.
We take an alternative trail back, longer but less steep, that switchbacks through the wood. From there we enjoy a sight of the bright yellow vineyards typical of the landscape of the Isarco Valley and the lower part of Trentino.