For a better view of our stunning surroundings, we decided to take a hike. A moderately challenging hike up Alta Pusteria on the Stoneman Trail ascends 120km, and is more than worth the climb for the view from the top.
But we’ll start at the bottom, where we made our first friends. Fluffy sheep traversed the terrain with ease, stopping to nibble along the way. (my kind of hiking) Once making it more than half way, we spotted the most beautiful Haflingers running free, eyeing us suspiciously as they crossed the mountain. Their golden chestnut fur and blonde locks stood out prominently against the blue sky, patiently playing follow the leader.
Even the cows looked on with admiration. Just look at those ears! Don’t you just want to snuggle her?! At random, they turned and came charging across the mountainside, bullying the cows into moving from their slumber. They seemed quite pleased with themselves, like a clique of blonde mean girls harassing the Tyrol Greys. A panoramic view from the top doesn’t do much to help catch your breath as it is beyond breathtaking. Named for the stonemen guarding the mountaintop, an eerie display of endless stacked stone piles stand as eternal marks left by those that have journeyed to the top. It’s sights like these that really make you stop and think. A little mental pause button is hit as you inhale the clean air, clear your mind, and try to take it all in. Some of the structures were really impressive, considering piling rocks on top of each other sounds much easier than its execution.
Note child for scale. I think he was trying to choose where to build his StoneDog.
This one was by far my favourite – especially the extra two little ones piled on top, as if the gargantuan rock wasn’t enough.
On our descent, we stopped in a mountain hut we had spotted on the way up. By now we were starving, and happily rested our feet in the sunshine with farm-fresh food and plenty of drinks.
This mezzeluna pasta was thick and stodgy, filled with local goats cheese and topped with Parmigiano, sweet grapes and strawberries – an odd, but delicious combination. I quickly made a friend and snuck her grapes under the table when no one was looking.
South Tyrol has a bit of a reputation for the South Tyrolean apple, which, when paired with Austrian-style strudel, is a winner amongst anyone with a sweet tooth… including the bees!
We couldn’t resist a slice of this homemade strudel… even if the bees had other ideas about sharing. This was paired with fluffy, doughnut like balls of pastry covered in cinnamon and sugar, a well-earned treat.
The hut was home to a few other animals, including this large rabbit. (who wouldn’t let me pet him) And the biggest pig I’ve ever seen, snuggled up with her baby. We finished our decline with full stomachs and wide grins, sad to be leaving the raw elements of nature, but looking forward to discovering Bolzano, the capital city of South Tyrol.