Schnalstal Valley at the foot of the Hochjochferner Glacier
The Schnalstal Valley („Schnalstal“ in German, or „Val Senales“ in Italian) is a side valley of the larger Venosta Valley in Italy’s South Tyrol Province. Because of its diverse landscapes, the high valley is one of the most fascinating valleys of South Tyrol. It starts at Naturno not far from Merano and extends over 25 km to the northwest into the Ötztal Alps. It runs steeply uphill from a narrow valley entrance to the Schnalstal Valley Glacier, and ends at the „Schnalskamm“, the main Alpine ridge.
The valley has gained worldwide fame as the place where “Ötzi”, the Iceman, was found, not far from the glacier. The preservation of customs and traditions has been a very essential part of life to this day, what makes the Schnalstal Valley a unique cultural and living space.
Skiing at the Schnalstal Valley glacier
The Schnalstal Valley Glacier ski area offers winter athletes and families 42 kilometres of prepared slopes and pure skiing fun. The 23 different slopes of varying degrees of difficulty go from the mountain station Grawand (3,212m a.s.l.) down to the valley station of the village Maso Corto (2,011m a.s.l.). Beside sporty runs, there are plenty of slopes for beginners, children and returners. A tobogganing hill and two Nordic ski tracks make the ski region into a special experience.
Those who come to ski will certainly get their money’s worth. No overcrowded slopes, no waiting for lifts and no mass tourism. Just this guarantee: There will be snow.
A hiker’s paradise
Pure hiking pleasure in Schnalstal Valley in South Tyrol. With 300km of hiking trails in all degrees of difficulty, everybody will find a suitable tour for itself. As part of South Tyrol’s largest nature park, the Texel Group, it offers pure hiking enjoyment in a pristine world of high Alpine flora and fauna.
A hiking holiday in Schnalstal Valley promises unique nature-experiences within different landscapes, whether a strenuous mountaineering tour to the summits of 3,000m a.s.l., or a casual hike over Alpine pastures to one of the 35 mountain huts and inns.
Places of interest and cultural sites
There is more to the Schnalstal Valley than its magnificent mountain environment. Tradition and looking to the future have always been two important elements characterizing the not-always-easy life of the people in this high valley. Thus, there are many places of interest to appreciate, which belong to the history of the valley from then until today.
Of course, the valley found fame through the discovery of the „Iceman“. But also the Vernago Lake, Certosa with its former monastery, or the pilgrimage church at Madonna di Senales, are worthy excursion destinations.
Sheep driving in the Schnalstal valley
The Schnalstal Valley also found fame through the annual sheep driving between the Schnalstal and Ötztal Valleys. This transnational tradition called "Transhumance" is recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. For over 1,000 years, the local farmers have driven their sheep up into the pastures of the Ötztal Valley near Vent in Austria. Each year in June, more than 3,000 sheep are led over the Niederjoch (3,019m a.s.l.) and the Hochjoch (2,857m a.s.l.) ridges into the Ötztal Valley, returning in mid-September. Led by shepherds and dogs, the herds must surmount several natural barriers during this strenuous day march. When crossing the main Alpine ridge, animal and human must both pass over fields of snow as well as steep gullies and ice chutes. The return of the sheep is a unique event and therefore appropriately celebrated.