Val di Funes or Villnöss Valley is just the right destination for people looking forward to quiet, idyllic days after the hustle and bustle of the city life. The valley is nestled in the Geislerspitzen (Odle) mountain range with a jaw-dropping backdrop UNESCO is quick enough to label as a World Heritage Site. Its standout feature: the towers of pale Odle/Geisler Dolomite Massif.
The imposing valley is hard to forget; it is postcard-perfect for the eyes, tranquil for the tired mind and enchantingly mesmerizing for the soul. It is still very rural with a charming farm ambiance that will remind you of your old place or those you watch from old movies set in the 60s. Agriculture is still a way of life and tourism has still not tarnished its natural appeal and serene ambiance. Villnoss Valley is a rewarding destination, a place you would love to relax while enjoying all the bounties that are organic and natural.
Loving the Outdoors
Villnöss Valley primarily lives off of the stunning scenery of the Dolomites. It is among the 20-member organization called “Pearls of the Alps,” committed to responsible and sustainable tourism. If you love the outdoors and a responsible tourist, you will appreciate the efforts and enjoy what they have to offer. There are miles and miles of trails and paths to hike through alpine pastures. There are trekking paths of varying levels of difficulty fit for multigenerational families.
Have a blast in Hochseilgarten Villnöss at the foot of the Odle/Geisler. It is a thrilling high-wire adventure park with five courses made exciting by balance beams, suspension bridges, cableways, etc. to warrant fun and adventure for all. Robust adventurers will love the idea of conquering what the celebrated mountaineer Reinhold Messner conquered in his youth and heydays. Messner is a homegrown climber of Villnoss Valley and Sass Rigais, Geislerspitzen’s highest peak, was his playground. Those who love skiing can speed away in the cross-country circuit trail around the Zanser Alm circuit or head off to Seceda that is merely 6km away.
Preserving Cultural Gems
Aside from the panoramic views, the valley boasts of its other rare gems – that of the preserved customs and traditions. These are apparent in the old farm roads that were prudently rebuilt so as not to lose its old-fashioned charm and in the scenic trails along the highland farms. Taking these paths allows you to take a peek at traditional farm lifestyles, which is now a rarity.
One village that showcases the local and traditional culture of Villnöss Valley is Santa Maddalena (St. Magdalena). This is set at the foot of the beautiful Odle Massif, the venue for the South Tyrol Speck Festival held every autumn. Once here, drop by the church of St. Johann in Ranui and be awed by its beautiful onion tower with Geislerspitzen hovering in the background. St. Valentine in Pradell is not too far from St, Peter Village. It has a striking late medieval altarpiece, and paintings and the most gorgeous Christopher frescoes.
One museum you shouldn’t miss is the Mineral Museum in Teis that house the renowned Teiser balls from of the Villnöss Valley. These are actually stone balls with a hollow filled with crystals – agate, amethyst and quartz.
Gastronomies of the Valley
The best way to savor the simple but delicious fares of the valley is to stop by informal pubs and huts. Eating in their unpretentious and rustic country kitchens is a really cozy and pleasurable experience. An easy way to enjoy all these with as little effort as possible is by joining excursions or culinary journey through the valley. These are organized and guided walking tours that will take you to different huts offering scrumptious treats.
If you’ll come in autumn, you might get lucky if you can bask in the local autumn tradition of “Törggelen.” This event welcomes guests to stop by and have a bite of the delectable snacks and bucolic refreshments offered by casual country inns and pubs. If you are just passing through, there are restaurants and pizzerias that can provide you with delicious fares sans the bucolic ambiance. The list includes Viel Nois Messner Pizzeria, Pitzock Restaurant, Pizzeria Pub Kult Ex Tris Restaurant and Sofie Hut Restaurant.
When you get tired of the bustling city and your soul aches for peace, know there is a spot right for you in Villnöss Valley.