Val d'Ultimo: a trekking paradise
Val d'Ultimo reaches from Lana (just a few kilometers away from Merano) to Santa Geltrude, at the borderline with the Stelvio National Park. Alta Val di Non branches off from Val d'Ultimo, approximately halfway between San Pancrazio and Santa Valburga. It develops southwards until Lauregno and then bends to the North, forming a circle around Monte Luco. Going from the North to the South, Val d'Ultimo includes the villages of San Pancrazio, Santa Valburga, San Nicolò and Santa Geltrude, whereas in Alta Val di you can find Proves, Lauregno, San Felice and Madonna di Senale. In this valley nature is unpolluted, and due to the pure air and the mild climate it is always pleasant to spend a holiday among its farmhouses. Here time passes according to old rhythms, and it is possible to relax and regenerate forgetting the haste of modern life.
If you really love trekking there's no better place for you to spend your holidays: over 740 km well-marked paths, for all tastes and difficulty levels, winding among blooming and soft slopes covered with vineyards, in the cool shadow of thick larch woods, in the height, among naked and imposing Dolomite peaks, among old farmhouses and hamlets and small mountain lakes.
On the background you can admire the Ortles massif and Monte Luco, and from Lauregno in Alta Val di Non you can see the impressive stone cathedral of the Brenta Dolomite, the Presanella and the Maddalene group. There are itineraries for the whole family, such as themed or didactic and nature path, but also more demanding hikes in the height.
Santa Geltrude is the ideal starting point for wonderful walks in the marvelous Stelvio National Park. Don't miss a visit to the Lahner Säge, the park's visitors center, and to the millenary larches rising just outside the village.
Unfar from San Felice, a easy and pleasant hike takes you to the San Felice Waterfalls and to the Santa Maria Lake, whereas close to Madonna di Senale you can find the Triassic Park didactic path, where you can admire the traces of dinosaurs. There are other very interesting paths, such as the Ultner Höfeweg trail in Pracupola and the Creation path in Madonna di Senale.
In Val d'Ultimo and Alta Val di Non you can also do Nordic walking, paragliding, tennis, fishing, swimming and horse riding.
In winter, the Schwemmalm ski center offers wide and perfect downhill run and snowboard slopes which are never crowded. There are also sledge slopes and a snow kindergarten for children, whereas Val d'Ultimo is ideal for cross-country skiing.
The villages on these two valleys feature many historical monuments. In San Pancrazio the "small house on the rock", the only one which survived to the flood in 1882, is undoubtedly worth seeing. Unfar from the village there are the ruins of the Eschenlohe Castles and Bagni di Mezzo, renown thermal sources which had been attended by important persons such as the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Otto von Bismarck and Thomas Mann.
Oher very interesting places include the Val d'Ultimo Museum in San Nicolò, describing very well the past rural life, the parish Church in Proves, with frescoes painted by Albrecht Steiner, and the hamlet of Madonna di Senale, one of the oldest villages in Alta Val di Non and an important pilgrimage place, featuring a beautiful gothic church.
The gastronomic events are particularly interesting: don't miss the Lamb weeks in Val d'Ultimo, with the traditional sheeps market in Pracupola, or the Dandelion weeks in Alta Val di Non.