(Werbung/advertisement as I was invited by Lana Tourism)
At the end of March I got to spend three wonderful days in Lana, South Tyrol. This idyllic town in the Etsch Valley is a refuge to the traveller who seeks to wind down and wants to enjoy some peace and quiet, as well as the active, outdoorsy person who can’t get enough of being outside. With this guide I want to give you some inspiration for your next trip to Italy’s northernmost province that should definitely include Lana and it’s surroundings.
1. Walk up to Castle Lebenberg for sunrise
Everytime I go travelling I make it a priority to witness as many sunrises as possible. That’s something I urge you to do as well. It might be tough to get out of bed in the small hours but once you breathe in the fresh morning air every last bit of drowsiness will be washed away – plus, you get so much more out of a day when you get up early.
So naturally my first day in Lana started with my alarm going off at 6am as I wanted to make it to that mornings destination, Castle Lebenberg on time to be greeted by the sun. Nestled between vineyards this impressive, 13th-century-fortress can be easily reached by car. But if you’re up for a bit of an exercise you might want to take a walk up there. I opted for the latter and the steep street leading up to the castle sure was a challenge but that way the lingering cold didn’t bother me too much. I walked past billions of vineyards, higher and higher up the mountain side until Lana was lying far below. Finally I could spot the castle in the distance so I waited for the sun to creep over the mountain tops in the East. When it did, it rapidly unleashed that beautiful, misty morning light that fell strikingly on the castle.
For a casual early morning stroll you could also walk the ,Brandis-Waalweg’ which connects Upper Lana to Lower Lana. You will be treated to beautiful views and when the sun climbs over the mountain ridges on a clear day the light is to die for. The path winds it’s way past meadows full of apple trees and vineyards, never steep or too demanding – so if you’re looking for an easy alternative, the ‚Brandis-Waalweg‘ is definitely top of the list.
2. Hike up Tschögglberg
One might think that travelling South in the Northern hemisphere at the end of March would mean warmer days, more sunshine and Spring being in full swing. I was lucky to have plenty of sunshine during my time in Lana but up in the mountains Spring was definitely taking its time.
It so happened that when Magdalena, born and raised in Lana, took me hiking we ended up walking through blankets of deep, white snow, thoroughly enjoying the last magic of Winter.
The hike up Tschögglberg provided us with gorgeous 360° panoramic views of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. Even the Dolomites, foothills of the Alps could be seen in the distance. In Summer the track will be winding it’s way through lush, green grass and alpine flowers, reaching it’s highest point at 1,941 meters. We could have gone further but our legs kept on vanishing in knee-deep snow, making it a strenuous attempt to keep on hiking so we turned around and descended back down to Leadner Alm where food and cold drinks were waiting for us.
3. Lunch at “Pur Südtirol”
After an active morning nothing screams comfort more than a freshly made lunch. One place that will definitely leave you craving for more is “Pur Südtirol” in Lana. Everything they have on offer is locally grown and made in the area. I really wish you could just reach into your screen, grab this sandwich and taste it! And don’t even get me started on the freshly squeezed juice… But until someone invents scented photos or food that can be sent via computer screen you just have to take my word for it and visit Pur Südtirol yourself.
4. Mountain Bike Tour with Bikeacademy Lana
Having never gone mountain biking before I was a wee bit nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. How hard will it be? What if I can’t make it up the mountain? „No worries!“ Hannes, founder of Bikeacademy Lana, told me „You’ll be fine!“
I met up with Hannes on my second morning in Lana where he filled me in on the route we’d be taking that day. It sounded overwhelming but at the same time like heaps of fun, especially after he had told me that we’d tackle everything by e-bike. After a short test ride and a few adjustments we were off, Hannes leading the way.
While we were riding through Lana he provided me with snippets of information about the area though after we had made a right turn our happy chatter ceased somewhat as I had to concentrate on breathing: the forest track we were riding on now was steadily climbing upwards towards our first stop, the little chapel of St. Hippolyt in the village of Völlan. At 770 meters we got to enjoy amazing views over the Etsch Valley and Lana.
After catching our breath for a few minutes we mounted our bikes again and rode into Völlan where we filled our tummies with scrumptious, south tyrolean food. Well fed Hannes led the way back down to Lana where we exchanged our low-running batteries for new ones because we had one more ascent to tackle. An ascent that would have been my downfall had it not been for my e-bike which I had come to truly admire by now. Up, up, up we went past vineyard-clad mountainsides and old farm houses, through forests, past streams until we stopped to look around and saw St. Hippolyt far below us, teeny tiny in the distance. It was now late afternoon and soon we headed all the way back down to Lana.
Six hours later and proud as punch I returned my bike and strolled back to my hotel, quite amazed by how much I had seen that day. If you want to have an action-packed day in the mountains hit up Hannes from Bikeacademy Lana and I bet he’ll be more than happy to take you on a mountain-biking adventure, too.
5. Drive into Ulten Valley
The Etsch Valley stretches from Merano to Bolzano and is very wide and spacious so if you, like me have a weakness for mountains you might feel the urge to be even closer to those rocky giants. A quick and easy way to do that is by jumping in your car and head into the Ulten Valley which lies right behind Lana. The little villages you pass on the way look very rustic, like time had stopped there and hadn’t it been for the cars parked outside the houses I would have thought I had just travelled back to those days when horse-drawn carriages could be heard rumbling over gravel roads.
There’s heaps of hiking tracks around which I have yet to discover. Instead my little roadtrip into Ulten Valley consisted of staring at mountains, taking photos and drinking hot chocolate in one of the quaint little taverns.
6. Enjoy the view from ‚Knottnkino‘
There’s many ways to see Lana from up above but the best view you can get must be the one from ‚Knottnkino‘ at 1,465 meters. ‚Knottn‘ is south tyrolean for rock and ‚kino‘ translates into cinema. Up there on the Rotsteinkogel stand fourty robust seats made of iron and chestnut wood, inviting you to take a seat and watch the most amazing movie an outdoor cinema could offer: nature unfolding it’s beauty, ever changing, always impressive. You will see a glorious panorama of the Etsch Valley and it’s towns dwarfed by the grand peaks of the Alps.
The fastest way to reach ‚Knottnkino‘ is by driving to the parking lot of ‚Gasthof Alpenrose‘ in Vöran. From there it’s an easy 30-minute-hike which takes you steadily upwards, past meadows and through a forest.
7. Stay at Hotel Schwarzschmied
If you truly want to treat yourself (and let’s be honest we can all do with a bit of pampering every once in a while) you really have to stay at Hotel Schwarzschmied. The Dissertori Family and the whole team will go out of their way at any time to make your stay with them as pleasant as possible.
There’s everything you need after an active day in nature: two swimming pools – one is outdoors so you can enjoy the vista of mountains while relaxing in hot water, yoga classes, a garden overlooking beautiful cherry trees and a vineyard, a classic sauna, and if you can’t get enough of sports there’s a gym as well.
What truly stands out however is the food!
Every morning a rich breakfast buffet awaits with everything you need for a day in the mountains and when you come back from hiking, mountain-biking, skiing or whatever tickled your fancy that day, your stomach yearning for good food, the Schwarzschmied provides. Every single course is a mouthwatering experience and just when you thought it can’t get any better there’s dessert…
Again, I am sorry that you can’t have a bite right this second, so here’s a photo:
Yes, I did all that in three days! It’s amazing how much you can see and get done when you get up early, make a plan and really just go for it! Lana, I will be back for more…
And if you also haven’t had enough – here are some more impressions: