(Werbung/advertisement as I was invited by Lana Tourism)
The warm season invites you to spend your time outdoors. It’s a good thing there are a hundred different things you can do in Lana, South Tyrol to get the most out of a Summers day. Out of these 100 things I’m passing 9 on to you, which will turn your Summer holiday in Lana into something truly special.
#1 Long Thursdays
Lanas answer to balmy Summer nights? Giovedí Lungo or „Long Thursday“. Every Thursday from June until August the stores in the shopping street, the „Gries“, leave their gates open for a little longer than usual and invite you to browse.
On the streets there’s food stalls offering culinary delights from the South Tyrolean region, from sweet doughnuts to fresh wine. Local craftsmen present their works of art and here and there live music echoes through the warm air. The atmosphere is buzzing with voices and laughter and you can’t help but linger in Lana’s quaint alleys for a while, watch the bakers prepare pizzas, applaud the artists on the stage or just sit down in front of the many bars and restaurants to enjoy a refreshing drink and watch the hustle and bustle.
Every „Long Thursday“ has a different theme, so there’s always a lot of variety – no Thursday is like the other and you can always expect something new and quirky being presented.
Hiking is a great thing to do at any time of the year because the impressive views don’t just run away. What you won’t find in the later months however, are the many colourful meadows of wildflowers. We passed through those meadows one early morning on our way to Kleiner Kornigl (2,311m) in the Ulten Valley, while the sun was slowly rising behind the mountains.
With the first rays, bright colours popped up around us and paved the way to the foot of the mountain. The meadow path was soon replaced by more rocky ground and after a short but steep ascent we crossed the ridge to the cross on the summit of Kleiner Kornigl. The views from up there were phenomenal – as per usual. You could say it’s a South Tyrolean standard, that summit views are nothing but amazing.
A little advice: The hike to Kleiner Kornigl is fairly easy and not too demanding, you just have to remember to go back the same way you came.
Now hiking may already evoke a certain feeling of freedom – but a tandem flight adds a certain zing to that feeling. It’s like the cherry on top of the already scrumptious sundae.
We had the pleasure to take to the air with Egon who runs Fly Meran, a company offering tandem flights and coaching. Egon himself has been a paragliding pilot for over 30 years and successfully so: a couple of years ago he won the World Paragliding Cup. We were definitely in good hands and being from South Tyrol himself Egon knows the conditions and updrafts in the Adige Valley like no other.
We met up with Egon at the gondola in Lana which took us straight up to our starting point atop the Vigiljoch. Once we got there, the parachute was ready in to time – helmets were donned, harnesses secured and after a short briefing („Just keep on running until I tell you to stop.“) we were already running down the shallow slope. Four steps later we lost the solid ground beneath our feet and a feeling of weightlessness took over. Egons enthusiasm for the sport is contagious and if I had grown up in Lana, you would have seen me up in the air by the age of 16, too…
#4 The Schwarzschmied
The Dissertori family and the whole staff of the Hotel Schwarzschmied know exactly what to do to erase the day-to-day madness and replace it with cosiness and recreation. There’s a certain serenity about the place, the rooms couldn’t be more comfortable, the staff I would have loved to take home with me and don’t even get me started on the food.
Life slows down during your stay and the perception for the little things increases. The love for the seemingly insignificant things echoes through all of the Schwarzschmied interior. Take the so called „Picture Library“ in our room for example: there were a number of canvases all showing something different and depending on your mood or your liking you could place those canvases on the shelf that speak to you and thus make your room even more personal. Needless to say I chose the canvases showing a mountain and a forest.
A picture of a fork, plate and knife was also constantly up on our shelf, because when you get to stay at the Schwarzschmied, you can’t help thinking about food all the time. Not because you might be particularly hungry, but because the kitchens creations are so very good, that you’re already looking forward to dinner even though you had just stuffed your face with all the breakfast goodness. It really is a good thing that the human stomach comes with a sense of fullness… (quick heads-up for all my vegetarian and vegan friends: you will love the Schwarzschmied!)
So if you are looking for an all-round carefree accommodation with the friendliest staff, wine from the private vineyard, yoga lessons, the best views, and sophisticated food I can’t recommend the Schwarzschmied enough.
#5 Getting up early
I can hear your thoughts already: „What? Getting up early? But I’m on vacation and I want to sleep in!“ Sleeping in late has its charms, I do get that and I would be lying if I told you that I never sleep in and that I’m always up and ready to take on the day in the small hours. I too become a slave to my bed but sometimes it’s so worth it to just toss that blanket and get out of bed because you know what’s even better than sleeping in? Relishing the peace and quiet of the blue hour, when only the birds are slowly waking up and the rest of the world is still fast asleep. To watch the sun rising behind the mountains and let her first sun rays touch your skin.
We experience far too little sunrises in our lives, even though they leave us in such a pleasant and blissful state. Personally when I start my days early I embrace the 24 hours ahead with a lot more thirst for action, plus you get so much more out of your day when you don’t let yourself be ensnared by your bed.
My recommendations to experience a relaxed sunrise in Lana? Take a walk along the Brandiswaalweg, drive up to Castle Lebenberg or simply enjoy greeting the sun from your balcony…
#6 The feast of the sacred heart of Jesus
Now that does sound super religious, doesn’t it? And if we traced this celebration back to its origins it is indeed very religious but nowadays it is above all one thing: a beautiful custom. If you wanted to experience it, you would have to be in South Tyrol on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost. On that day fires in the shape of hearts or crosses are kindled on top of the mountains, a symbol for the solidarity of the region. To me it all sounded like the beacons of Rohan, so I couldn’t miss it.
At twilight we hiked up the little hill of St. Hippolyt just above Völlan where panoramic views over the Adige Valley await the visitor. While the small city lights sparkled weakly in the valley below us, the sky became darker by the minute. With the dwindling daylight, fires were ignited on the mountains around us, small, glowing spots in the distance. But closer to us on the Vigiljoch a fire in the shape of a heart sent its light into the darkness. The hill we were standing on that night was illuminated by a burning cross – now that might sound very extreme, but it was really just very romantic. See for yourself:
#7 The Kränzelhof
The „Kränzelhof“ in Tscherms (a 15 minute bike ride from Lana) is a vineyard, a restaurant and a garden at the same time. But not your classic garden, like the one you would find behind someones house. No. The seven gardens of the Kränzelhof are different. Count von Pfeil, landowner and creator of the gardens describes them as a „living sculpture“ that is constantly growing and changing, shaped by the seasons and the contact with the people who come to visit. Among the many quirky things there is a maze, a huge, colourful wind chime and rocks that mimic the human heartbeat – in a peculiar way the gardens have something wonderful about them.
After you have discovered all the nooks and crannies of the gardens, you could attend a wine tasting and accompany the Count himself into the cool catacombs of his estate to taste the Kränzelhofs own whites and reds, and to deepen your knowledge about the fine trade that is winemaking.
You know what it’s like! Outside it’s 30°C and the only thing that might keep away the heat is jumping into the next, icy cold mountain lake. The only issue with these kinds of lakes is, that they usually lie high up in the mountains and to get there requires physical exertion, which you simply don’t want to and shouldn’t muster when it’s hot outside.
But rejoice, because the next best refreshment is often way easier to reach: the waterfall. Norway or Iceland might be the places that come to our minds first when we think of water plummeting down a rock face, but Lana and the surrounding area shouldn’t hide because they have their own fair share of waterfalls.
A few years ago, Philipp and me already visited the Cascata di Parcines, and only last year we visited the Brandis Waterfall situated directly in Lana. This Summer we simply crossed the Adige and drove over to Vilpian to a waterfall that shares the towns name. After a short walk we arrived in the shade of a high cliff from which the water was falling into a small basin at our feet. We just stood there, listening to the roar and exposing ourselves to the welcome spray of the water.
#9 Bike ride
Many a sport might be overkill for the hot and humid temperatures of Summer, unless you practice it at 5am (which brings us back to getting up early). But if you wanted to be a little active despite the 30 plus °C, you should just grab a bike and let the flow of air cool you down.
The air is also slightly cooler in the vicinity of water, making it easier to endure the heat. That’s why one afternoon we took our bikes for a spin to Meran and from there into the Passeier Valley past meadows full of apple trees, the Passer river quickly flowing beside us. If you’re the adrenaline type you could also conquer the thundering river by doing some rafting. It’s all there.
You see! Lana and boredom are two words that simply don’t go together and in Summer nothing much will be able to keep you inside for long. If you are already thinking about planning a holiday to Lana and South Tyrol right now, then pretty please include me as well – there are 91 more things that demand my attention!
As per usual: here are some more impressions for your eyes!