Golden autumn

Wellness, hiking and Törggelen: The best tips for a break in South Tyrol

Friday, 20.10.2023 | 17:01

Törggelen, hiking and relaxing in beautiful wellness hotels: traveling to South Tyrol for a few days in autumn is like a short trip to another world. We present the best hiking, wine and wellness spots.

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Törggelen – this dialect word is one of the most difficult to pronounce and comes from Latin: “Torquere” means something like “pressing wine”. This old South Tyrolean custom is practiced wherever wine and sweet chestnuts grow – from the Eisack Valley through Bolzano and the Merano region to the Vinschgau and along the wine route. Its origins go back to the fact that at the beginning of October the farmers wanted to thank their helpers for their work in the harvest and pressing the wine with a feast and young wine.

The tradition is still lived and loved today – from the beginning of October to the middle of November. Many farm and wine taverns only open in the Törggelen season and serve the typical menu: barley soup, meat platter with “Rippelen”, cured meat and cabbage, and for dessert, doughnuts with “Keschtn” fried in butter, as the sweet-tasting chestnuts are called. “Suser” is drunk with each course, which means something like “sweet”. The young, red wine is not yet fermented, very light with only one percent alcohol and tastes like grape must.

Play of colours on the south side of the Alps

A little exercise doesn’t hurt after such a nutritious meal – hiking, for example. The autumn season is the best time for hiking on the south side of the Alps. The warm light makes the sweet chestnut forests glow in golden tones and the grape harvest invites you to wine tasting. And afterwards the spas beckon, of which South Tyrol’s wellness hotels have many exceptional locations to offer. A foray to the most beautiful hiking and wine routes and wellness spots.

1. Merano: Flexible hiking on the Merano High Trail

Empress Sissi loved Merano: At the end of the 19th century, the Austrian monarch spent several months in the spa town and enjoyed the Mediterranean climate. Even today, South Tyrol’s second-largest city stands for imperial holidays – between mountains up to 3337 meters high, palm trees, cypresses, vineyard terraces, Art Nouveau villas and stylish wellness hotels.


Anyone who wants to go törggelen and hike will find many options here. One of the most beautiful routes in South Tyrol is the Merano High Alpine Trail, which circles the Texel Group Nature Park in four to eight daily stages. The high alpine circular tour is doable for every hiker because there are various options for entry and exit along the 100-kilometer-long route. In addition, there are lifts or cable cars in the towns of Naturns, Partschins, Algund and Dorf Tirol, which save you a lot of ascents and descents. The trail mostly winds its way along the mountains of the Texel Group at a constant altitude of around 1,400 meters. There are refreshment and accommodation options at regular intervals – hikers can stay overnight in more than 40 huts, shelters or alpine pastures – which means that the tour can be tailored to your individual needs. But day trips are also possible. The southern part is ideal for this in autumn, and is accessible until November.

2. Schenna: Gourmet hike to the Zmailer farm

If you don’t want to go quite so high, you can find more leisurely hiking options on South Tyrol’s famous irrigation canals. The medieval irrigation canals also pass Schenna, a small town 300 meters above Merano on a viewing plateau. The moderately difficult hike to the “Zmailer-Hof” starts here, and takes less than two hours.

Once you reach 1100 meters, you are treated to a fantastic view of the Etschtal, the Merano valley basin and the surrounding mountains. The old mountain farmhouse is a listed building and Martha Thaler is standing at the stove in the kitchen, cooking nettle, cheese and bacon dumplings. The warm host’s fan club extends far beyond South Tyrol’s borders and is a testament to her flair for everything that tastes good. The business, which belongs to the quality brand “Roter Hahn”, has even been mentioned several times in the renowned gourmet guide Gault&Millau. In addition to specialties from the region, farmer Martha also serves classics such as Kaiserschmarrn, strudel and doughnuts – in her rustic parlor or on the large sun terrace.

3. Eisacktal: Chestnut fans and the chestnut trail

The 80-kilometer-long Eisack Valley stretches along the north-south axis from Brenner to Bolzano. With its extensive chestnut groves, it is considered the stronghold of Törggelen. The “Eisack Valley Chestnut Specialty Weeks” take place every year from mid to late October (October 14 to 29, 2023) in the towns of Feldthurns, Villanders and Lajen-Ried. Here, enjoyment and exercise can be ideally combined – surrounded by a sea of ​​golden leaves.

The highlight in autumn is the “Keschtnweg” (Chestnut Trail), which leads from the Eisacktal via the Ritten, the Seiser Alm and the Grödnertal to Lake Kaltern. The eight-day hike on the South Tyrolean Chestnut Trail stretches over 63 kilometers. There are plenty of places to stop along the way: in Brixen, typical Eisacktal wine taverns such as the “Villscheiderhof” or the “Oberpartegger” in Villanders serve their guests not only their own farm delicacies, but also wine from their own production. On the Ritten, “Keschtnweg” hikers can fortify themselves at the “Ebnicherhof” high above Bozen or at the “Ebnerhof” with a distant view of the Schlern. If you look too deeply into your wine glass, no problem, the farms also offer stylish overnight accommodation. But day trips are also possible: like the most beautiful tour, which begins in Klausen near Burg Brandzoll and leads to Vahrn and Brixen.

4. Kaltern: Lake and mountain views on the Kaltern high trail

In summer, Lake Kaltern is one of the warmest bathing lakes in the Alps. In autumn, the area around 14 kilometers from the state capital of Bolzano is transformed into a romantic setting: mountains, lake and one of the most beautiful wine villages in the world. The best view of this can be seen from the 13-kilometer-long “Kalterer Höhenweg” – all the way to the peaks of the Dolomites. The panoramic trail leads from the valley station of the Mendelbahn in St. Anton/Kaltern to Altenburg and back again. Hikers should plan three and a half to four hours for the high trail. At the end, the reward is a stop at the “Luggin Steffelehof” in St. Nikolaus near Kaltern. In a rustic atmosphere, vacationers can enjoy seasonal specialties such as Kalterer Plent (polenta), homemade raspberry ice cream and wine and distillates from their own organic production. Excellent wines are also available from Peter Sölva, the oldest winery in the center of Kaltern. Since 1731, the Sölvas have been carefully producing full-bodied and elegant wines – such as their flagship Amistar – which can be tasted in the wine shop.

5. Ratschings: Up the comfortable Jaufentaler Panoramaweg

In the north of South Tyrol, between Sterzing and Passeier Valley, lies the 3-valley community of Ratschings. Anyone who wants to take it easy and leisurely will find the perfect way to hike here – on the Jaufentaler Panoramaweg. The tour above Ratschings is more like a stroll than a hike. With an altitude difference of just 350 meters, the route is a good eight kilometers long from Gasteig towards Mittertal and back – not very strenuous, but with spectacular mountain views.

Anyone who follows the turnoff to the “Ungererhofschänke” at the end of the valley will not regret the small detour: the Rainer family, the hosts, are known far beyond the valley for their bacon, Kaminwurzen sausages and game dishes from their own hunting grounds. The appropriate wine from the region is served with this – and Törggele happiness is complete.

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