Our destination this time was the Parnaud Alm. A walk through larch forests, surrounded by the Schnalstal glacier.
While the sun was shining in Vilpian, in Karthaus the mountain tops were covered with clouds. The concierge asked a local for directions, who also let him know that the cloudy weather was not ideal for the Pernaud Alm.
Fully motivated, the concierge his entourage began the 2:30h hike. But as soon as the first raindrops started to fall the motivation was gone. Stop. It is time to turn around.
In these mountains, but much further up, the Similaun Man was found, the mummy from the ice, also known as Ötzi. While it takes worse weather to end up as Ötzi, rain in the mountains isn’t to be taken lightly. It was high time for a change in plans. With lunchtime approaching the concierge decided to dine in a local restaurant.
Smoked char, roasted suckling pig with potato salad, tagliatelle with chanterelles, and of course, a good glass of wine.
With a full stomach the concierge visited the former Carthusian monastery of Monte degli angeli, where “strength lies in silence”. Enjoying the peaceful, absolute silence, the concierge found it difficult to return to Vilpian, where his telephone vibrates, and the reception bell rings.
The silence is very relaxing. Almost like a vacation.
The concierge considers himself a very lucky person, living, where other people come for holiday.
After the Concierge recently received fresh strawberries from the Willelehof, he promised farmer Paul that he would pay a visit to his farm. Not only out of curiosity and to assure himself that Paul’s cultivation was top of the line, but also as an excuse to get out of the office.
The concierge had already seen all kinds of farms, some with broken tractors in the front, scrap metal and machine parts scattered everywhere, with unsold apples being stored out front and a couple crates of pears rotting in between.
But once he arrived in Glanning, in Jenesien, at first the concierge was convinced he was at the wrong address. There should be a farm here, right? Instead, the concierge finds himself standing in front of a villa that could be straight out of Hollywood, with freshly mowed lawn and every pebble on the road precisely where it belongs. But a raspberry plantation right next to the villa confirms that this is indeed the Willelehof.
The plantation is in perfect condition and Pauls strawberries follow suit. He grows to types of strawberries, one in raised beds and one on the ground.
On the well-kept lawn stands Paul’s son, who is taking care of the tractor. Scrap metal and broken parts nowhere to be found.
Paul goes into detail about the strawberry market. His farm isn’t the only thing that impresses us, the taste of his strawberries does as well.
Out of nowhere we notice something strange! As we look across the strawberry fields we discover a hemp plantation in the middle of his fields!
Paul! Not for smoking, is it?
Paul assures us that his hemp is not suitable for smoking. This hemp is grown when changing fruit crops.
The Willelehof is in impeccable condition. After the visit we enjoy the landscape of Jenesien on a walk to the Jöchl-Almhütte, from where we continue to the Möltner-Kas, where we enjoy a light lunch.
Cabbage salad with roasted Speck and typical Vinschgerle bread.
Are we sure our appetite didn’t come from Paul’s hemp?
Tuesday is the perfect day to look for new and exciting excursions and hikes that the concierge can then recommend to his esteemed guests. This time he dives into the mountains of Merano, which we can see simply by looking out the window, but rarely have the time to actually visit.
Starting form St. Walburg in the Ulten valley we are accompanied by mountain guide and expert in botany, “Aunt Resi”.
We hike towards Malghetto di cloz at 1894 meters above sea level. Before us towers Monte Luco. Usually we only get to see this mountain from the other side.
We are on the Proveis nature trail and admire the mountain pastures. Here in South Tyrol most pastures are high mountain pastures, which means they lie high beyond the treeline and therefore most of the soil is very acidic. On such soil the vegetation isn’t very varied. However, mostly young cattle graze on alpine pastures which are less demanding then adults.
We continue our hike through the mountains and enjoy the beautiful views. But from time to time we ask ourselves if there could be a bear nearby, this is after all the area of the Life-ursus project, where the Brenta brown bear population lives and is protected after nearly dying out a few years back. The chances of meeting a bear however are very slim and the mountains are too beautiful to spend all hike unnecessarily worrying.
Once arriving at Malga cloz, the concierge enjoys lunch, huts like this are known for their cheese, alpine cheese as used in our Schlutzkrapfen. One table over, the ladies enjoy the guitar playing of the alpine dairyman.
One wonders what they are admiring more, the mountains, or the dairyman?
The concierge is of course only slightly jealous. Next time a group of ladies ask for advice on where to hike to, he’ll send them to the dairyman and his alpine pasture.
Time for a road trip. The Concierge loads a big quantity of wine from the Cantina Terlano into his truck, to deliver to the wine cellar of a good colleague. Then he continues towards Treviso, more precisely towards Roncade, on his own initiative, to visit the Bekeke winery, whose wines were created by Simone Maculan, agronomist, and oenologist.
The journey continues, with the aim of loading a pallet of Prosecco in Valdobbiadene and then continuing towards Belluno to buy new glasses.
After Belluno a short detour to the Dolomites, which are particularly beautiful in this early summer sunshine, and then back to the Sparerhof.
A detour that is strenuous but rewarding!
At least that was the plan...
From Terlan we take the A22 motorway in the direction of Modena; in Verona we leave the motorway and follow the road until the Oppeano exit. This is what the navigator indicates after all, and then... JUNCTION! abrupt braking, clutch and... Hello? The clutch won't work.
HI-VIS vest pulled out of the car drawer, safety triangle on the road and the next car-workshop called. With all these fine wines in the car... Fortunately, the depot where we wanted to bring the wines is only a few kilometres away. One phone call and one reloading later, the car is still in the same place, but at least without load.
At lunchtime, the car is at the mechanic and the concierge is busy with phone calls to postpone or cancel appointments, a trip to the Dolomites? Impossible.
Lunch consists of a porchetta sandwich and a glass of Soave in the green of the Veronese hinterland.
The emergency plan was to stay overnight in Verona and continue the planned tour the next day after the car was repaired. However, as shops, restaurants and maybe even hotels might be closed during the Corona pandemic, it was best to return that day by regional train. Verona - Bolzano.
Two days later: return to Verona. This time with the Freccia Argento, the Italian version of the Shinkansen, the Japanese super-fast train. In the meantime, the car was repaired in the workshop. As good as new.
The concierge returns to the wine depot, hundreds of pallets of wine are stored here ready for dispatch.
In a corner, a treasure chest:
Many bottles, individually and carefully packed. One label in particular strikes the Concierges eye: Château d'Yquem, 1944. The bottle is in mint condition. It has been carefully stored under optimal conditions, temperature and humidity constantly controlled, for many years. Price at the appraiser? About 10.000€
I wonder who they're selling it to. A rich American? A Russian oligarch? Or maybe a scratch-off winner?
Hah! On closer inspection of the Sauterne bottle, the fill level seemes to be slightly lower than it should be. That wouldn’t fly with a new one.
I wonder who'd want to drink it now. Maybe we'll find out.
Our hotel management software has a useful function.
If a supplier's invoice has not been paid by the due date, it will light up red.
Now that the lockdown is over again, in between all the items that need to be paid in cash to maintain a good relationship with the suppliers, there is also an invoice for the maintenance of our fire extinguishers.
According to the law, these must be checked by our fire safety outfitter from Tisens in their Lana branch.
The office manager of "Firetech", is a childhood friend of the concierge. Time to pay Karl a visit, or "Karele" as he is known to his friends.
On the concierge's day off, equipped with the exact amount of 102,48€ and armed with the South Tyrol Pass - an electronic public transport ticket, he takes the train to Lana - Postal.
On to Karele's office.
A quick affair. A delivery note and an elbow greeting later, the concierge is ready to head out.
Now, what to do with the rest of the day?
The concierge decides to return to the hotel on foot. A nice walk, about 8-9 km.
Starting point is the historical railway locomotive in Lana, along our walk we pass the old "Pomus" headquarters, a cooperative for fruit and vegetables, which in 2009 merged with "Ogol" into "Lanafruit".
A sculpture tells about the work of the farmers. If you continue to follow the route, you will pass historic farms like the Bach and Gerengut, which has been owned by the Karnutsch family since 1739, or the Tonner Hof, where wine was cultivated for the Tegernsee monastery in Bavaria until 1803.
We reach the parish church of Maria Himmelfahrt, consecrated in 1492, a late Gothic church with a bell tower that is 79 meters high.
Here you’ll also find the Schnatterpeck Altar, the largest altar in Tyrol with a height of 14 metres, almost 7 metres wide, made by the master Hans Schnatterbeck in 1503 and decorated with over 80 figures. After visiting the church, it was time for the concierge to get back on the road. 7 kilometres remain.
That’s not nearly far enough for the concierge and so instead, he decided to continue along one of the ancient water channels, the so-called “Waalwege”.
The Waalweg runs for 12 km from Töll to Lana and is thus the longest Waalweg in South Tyrol and offers a view of the church of St. Margaret of Antioch and its beautiful frescoes.
The Waalweg leads right through the middle of chestnut woods, which grow to an average height of over 20-25 metres and can live to be over 500 years old. These trees are cultivated in South Tyrol not only for their edible fruits, but also for their wood. In addition, the chestnut trees provide a habitat for many birds and other animal species and protects the soil from frost and erosion.
The route takes us to the Lebenberg Castle. Along the path we look down on the city of Cermes and walk along the long walls of Lebenberg Castle, also known as Castel Monteleone in Italian.
The castle is the villages symbol. It was built in the 13th century by the Lords of Marling. The castle can be visited, but unfortunately for the concierge, not today. The way is still long, and he is beginning to feel his legs.
The concierge arrives on a hill above Marling and enjoys a spectacular view of the Merano Hippodrome and the city. A short break offers itself.
Unfortunately, this break proves to much for the concierge. The view is just too good and the bench to comfortable. His strength continues to dwindle.
The concierge decides to leave for Marling and heads toward the train station. A short wait for the train later, he boards the train and finally heads home.
Thank you Karele and the bill I had to pay. The concierge was able to spend a nice day because of it.
As part of the #Iorestoacasa initiative, the concierge unfortunately can only take photographs in and around the currently empty hotel.
Unfortunately, without the opportunity to explore the wonderful places we have within a few kilometres of the hotel, we have no choice but to look around the archives and look at the photographs taken over the years during this period.
And so the concierge can watch the apple and cherry trees in blossom, or visit the lake of Kaltern and watch his brother-in-law riding his horses through the pastures and mountains of the area.
Meanwhile in our fridge, some apples still wait to be processed…
A winter hike only a few steps away from Vilpian. Eppan.
A walk to the Gleif chapel. We park the car in the village, a path leads directly from the centre of St. Michael/Eppan. The path leads us through apple trees and vineyards, still in hibernation, just waiting to bloom in spring. The easy ascent, along the well-kept Way of the Cross, takes about two hours.
Arrived at the Greif Chapel the view is breathtaking. When conditions are favourable, you can see the mountains over Merano, the Dolomites and Lake Kaltern and its surrounding hills.
The Rittner Christmas markets… or at least that was the plan.
A visit to the Bozen Christmas Market and a short walk through the arcades. Then to Ritten by cable car to see the breath-taking landscape of the Dolomites. And finally, the Christmas market of Klobenstein.
After arriving in Klobenstein we desperately searched for the stalls and… Oh no!
The market was closed and won’t open before next weekend!
Lunch at the Gloriette Guesthouse. Stylish ambience with an excellent menu. We chose a bruschetta with Culatello ham, a curry apple soup with prawns and then braised octopus with olives and saddle of veal with mashed potatoes.
And for dessert, a chocolate tartlet with gingerbread.
When our stomach was full, the Rittner cable car brought us back to the summit, where we waited a few steps further at the new train station to take the bus home, where the concierge entertained his guests by telling them about a wonderful day at great heights.
Moral of the story: No calorie counting during Christmas.
These days the christkindl is very busy to make kid eyes sparkle with joy.
The concierge went to visit the most beautiful nativity scenes of the sourrounding area and came to a conclusion: the prettiest nativity scenes can be found in the romantic streets of Eppan and the parish church of St. Pauls.
There is no bad weather, only unsuitable clothing and equipment ...
So, our concierge went on a nice walk well equipped against rain and snow.
The concierge is looking for the most beautiful places around the Sparerhof. An environmentally friendly day. We travelled by train, which is only a few meters from the hotel, we drive in the direction of Merano and there change train to Vinschgau.
We then continue to the village of Tscharsch and then hike to the parish church.
Once at the church, we continue our walk on the Waal, the irrigation channel that leads us to the foot of the Messner Mountain Museum. The path along this Waals is very pleasant, as it leads us along the slope of the Sonnenberg, through the forest in the direction of Castel Juval.
It is also suitable for the whole family.
Reinold Messner was born on 17 September 1944 in Brixen; His name is associated with countless sporting events, not just climbing and exploring, notably known as the world's first mountaineer to climb all 14 summits in the world over 8,000 meters. Among other things, he also crossed the Arctic, Greenland and the Gobi Desert.
These experiences, especially the culture of the mountain, are told in his numerous books. And to give everyone a better idea of the mountain, Messner determines what our next destination is, the Messner Mountain Museum.
When we arrived at the Messner Mountain Museum, we visited the beautiful and interesting building with a guided tour. The castle tour told us that the famous mountaineer was currently in.
But unfortunately, we were not lucky and did not see either Messner or a Yeti!
We consoled ourselves with a good portion of local cheese and bacon and the typical Vinschgau bread (Vinschger Paarl), before we walked down into the village of Staben, where we were greeted at the station by the Alpenhornkapelle.
The occasion was the inauguration of the new station of Staben, where the mayor of Naturns Heidegger Andreas, the vice-president of the South Tyrolean Landtag Alfreider, Daniel, dr. Martin Ausserdorfer, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the STA - South Tyrol, AG Transport Structures and finally Alois Köll, Mayor of Schenna.
After such a beautiful and environmentally conscious day we return to the hotel with the memory of a pleasant day outdoors.
Hike from Deutschnofen to the snack station Wölfl and back on the E5, the European long-distance hiking trail Bodensee - Adria.
The Marschnell Alp is the highest alp in the Ulten valley.
Marschnell Alp (2213 m)
An easy hike, possible even with a stroller, aprox. 400 meters altitude difference