9.09.2014

15 Good Reasons to Visit Ritten

Descending from the Ritten Horn
Imagine an highland in the full light of midday, you siting on the grass looking to the white high mountains across the valley. They are so close that you can name the peacks one by one: Schiliar, Marmolada, Sassolungo, Catinaccio... Maybe your bike is laying beside you and you are anticipating the ride back. Maybe you are in Ritten (or Renon).
I have spent here one week every summer since 0 to 15 and last year I came back with my son, in the same hotel as always: I can't imagine to stay anywhere else. I love traveling and exploring new places but here I feel at home and fully relaxed. 
Do you fancy an holyday on the Italian Alps? you should try Ritten and here you have my 15 reasons to.
1. Ritten Cablecar (and Bozen/Bolzano)
You don't need a car! ...and you must admit that's special for a mounain place, at an altitude of 1100-1400 m. The Cablecar starts 500 m from the railstation and trains to Bolzano are fast and frequent. From Florence (and Rome) there is a direct Freccia Rossa. The cablecar gets to Oberbozen (Soprabolzano) and there you can take the Old Railway till Klobenstein (Collalbo) or just walk to one of the many nice aims in the area. It's a plateau so tracks and roads (dirty and not) are almost all flat, with few gentle climbs. Train and bus will bring you to the start of more demanding excursions, on the Ritten Horn. Or you can ride there by bike! Bozen itself is a beautiful city to visit, full of shops, and from there you can take a train to Brixen/Bressanone, Sterzing/Vipiteno, Alpe di Pejo or a bus to Alpe di Siusi.
2. Landscape and view
Wherever you go, you walk (or ride) in a post card. High mountains just in front, quiet and large forests all around, dotted of 'gasthoff' where you can eat a simple tasty dish and sometimes sleep. It isn't a wild nature. All is very neat. And still lived by the inhabitants, that work in their fields and attend their animals - cows, sheeps or horses. 
Near Wolffsgruben
You enjoy this wonderful viewsince the moment the cablecar moves, you are suspended in it, floating. You make your way in the landscape step by step, assorbe it breath by breath, with the the scent of flowers - always there, intensely bright - and the mountain sounds: water, cow bells, typical music from a gasthoff. You wake up every morning with this splendid view just out your window and it's enough to full your soul with joy. Even when the weather isn't so good, because clouds and mist make the lanscape magic.
Freudpromenade
3. Oberbozen (and 'Marlen')
It's a very small village, the main town being Klobenstein, but here you can find almost all you need: a small supermarket, some hotels - and cheaper accomodations - a bar, Fink, especially good for ice-cream, a cosy restaurant, Babsy, a bank and 'Marlen'. That's a special place: it sells newspapers, souvenirs and other stuff for travelers but its 'core bussiness' is quality clothing. Here you can find excellent mountain technical clothes, a large range of typical clothes - for women, men and children - but also very good casual and sporty clothes. It isn't cheap but it's worth of it.
4. Hotel Rinner (and RittenCard)
My home in Ritten. You can find a more lavish or a cheaper accomodation, a better view, a closer distance from the town or from the Ritten Horn. But this familiar hotel is a good compromise: average price, private railway stop, walking distance from everywhere, excellent food, nice rooms, beautiful view. Moreover the Rinner family is really special: they make you feel more a friend than a guest. The cook, Manfred, young and creative, invents everyday a new dish mixing traditional and international cooking, using high quality food often home made. Paul is a beekiper and you can taste his delicious honey. He also makes beautiful beeswax candles. His wife Resy and his daughter Karin, always smiling and wearing traditional clothes, wisely manage the reception and the dinner room. The ambiance is very confortable and there is a wonderful playroom for children and kids. The garden is also very nice, with a trampoline, table tennis and table football. Booking here - like in many hotels in Ritten - you also get the RittenCard, that allows you the free use of all the public transport in Alto Adige, inculding of course the Old Railway, the Ritten Horn cablecar and the cablecar to/from Bozen/Bolzano, plus free or discounted entrance to many museums and activities.
5. Ritten Old Railway 
It's a small train running between Oberbozen and Klobenstein, with a few intermediate stops. The original train only works in some days and times but the new ones conserve the old style, are effective and amusing. In Klobenstein you can take the bus to Pemern, where the Ritten Horn cablecar starts.
6. Ritten Horn (on foot and on bike)
Maria Himmelfahrt
It's Ritten higher peak, an aim itself but also the start point of many excursions. Arriving by cablecar you reach Cima Lago Nero, then an easy track leads you to Unter Horn where a steep direct way climbs to the peack. From Cima Lago Nero there is also a longer panoramic walk to Unter Horn (2h) with an amzing view. From Unter Horn there is a longer but way more beautiful track to the Horn, descending through the forest and then climbing by the other side of the peak (n.4). In Cima Lago Nero, Unter Horn and Ritten Horn there are refuges where you can eat, rest and also sleep in basic rooms. The top of Rittern Horn is very windy so - once enjoyed the view - it's better to go down to Unter Horn by the direct way, where, by the way, food and drink are cheaper and children can play. From there you can walk to Pemern but also to Klobenstein or even to Oberbozen, depending on time, will and shape. By bike you can reach Cima Lago Nero and Unter Horn by a beautiful dirty road slightly uphill. I have to try it yet but have met many bikers of all ages up there. From Unter Horn you have a large plateu to explore.
Maria Himmelfahrt
7. Madonnina del Renon (and cows).
I'm not going to list all the excursions you can do in Ritten. Everywhere you can find a basic map and tracks are very well marked but I suggest you buy a serious map: in Klobenstein Tourist Office you can find a good one for just few euros (about 3) with all tracks and also altitude curves indicating climbing and descent. The trip to Madonnina del Renon is not the most spectacular but has got two advantages at least: it's few crowded, cross a cows grazing and descends though a splendid forest where you can also see a rich waterfall. By the other side you must be careful in avoiding cows shit and wet slippery trunks, in add there is a lot of descending, not ideal for weak knees. At the end of the track there is a gasthoff where you can eat or take a coffee, then a road brings you back to Pemern. Madonnina itself - or better Gissman - is a three houses village with a church, nothing special.
8. Klobenstein Café Konditorei Lintner (and sparrows).
Maria Himmelfahrt
Really special instead is Litner: a small café where you can eat delicious cakes and icecreams. It's less cool than others, more 'local'. You can sit inside at the wooden tables with bench or outside, on the terrace. But my favourite place is the wooden gazebo in a corner of the garden. 
This year it was raining when we stopped there after a long walk, the village was desert and misty, we sat alone in the gazebo and like in a fairytale a dozen of sparrows came to see us, more and more inquisitive and brazen. Finally one of them led the squad to our plates and they started robbing our cake bit by bit. As we moved, they flew away, then came back. It was magical! Well, I can't promise you the same, but Lintner's cakes are worthy a try.
9. Earth Pyramids and Maria Saal
About Earth Pyramids, read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_pyramids_of_Ritten
The Schiliar
If you fancy an easy walk from Klobenstein, this one suits you. It's almost all flat, with an interesting close view of the Earth Pyramids. The last part is steep and gets to a small cute curch, Maria Saal. It's the typical mountain baroque you can often find in the Alps, researching splendour by simple decorations and poor materials. This year we reached it with a group of aged German ladies: they were full equiped for the excursion and had a good pace. Once in the church they sat on the benches, took off the hymn book and started singing holy songs in the silent golden light. Inspiring!
Next to Maria Saal there is also a gasthoff where you can eat a typical luch enjoying a stunning view. 
10. Freudpromenade  
Yes, that Freud. He used to spend here his summer holydays and daily walk from Oberbozen to Klobenstein - or the opposite - by a nice flat dirty road running along the forest and some beautiful gardens. Good indead for a relaxing thoughtful stroll.
11. Beekeeping Museum
In Wolfsgruben, on a grassy hill, there is an ancient house surrounded by flowers: it used to be a private home and inside you can still see some forniture and daily stuff belonging the last owners, two old sisters who never married. That's already very interesting. But the place, house and garden, is now the Beekeeping Museum, with many amazing things to watch and to learn. Absolutely a must in a visit to Ritten. By the way, it's very close to the old train stop...
12. Wolfsgruben Lake (and beach)
...and to the lake. Not big not special, Wolfsgruben's is an artificial lake. There are some hotels and restaurants built just on its bank and a path in the forest running all around it. There is also a 'beach' with a kiosk where you can rent a chair, eat a sandwich and moreover taking a bath. The water is cold but clean, good for a refreshing break in a long hot day walking or a lazy afternoon in the sun.
13. Maria  Himmelfahrt
It was the 'summer village' of Bozen: a few splendid villas and a small country church. It's now the aim of an easy walk, almost flat and quite short but gratifying for the absolute beauty of the landscape. This year it was bad weather and we found a suggestive atmosphere...
14. Lobishoff and Moserhoff
Days pass quickly in Ritten. We use to alternate long demanding excursions on the Ritten Horn and easier days around the town, walking in the morning and speding the afternoon by a Gasthoff, not only eating (and driking if you like, I'm more a plain water type) but also relaxing on the grass. Many Gasthoff are also farms, with animals and home made food. Children can safely play while you take a well deserved rest. 
When I was a child we used to go to Lobishoff, and it's still great. But coming back last year I found out it grew bigger, more 'touristic' and more expensive. Moserhoff is few further on the same track ('the mill road'): simple, nice, good. And there is a balsting swing hanging from a huge tree!
Warning: gasthoffs observe a weekly closing day. It's also marked on the Tourist Office map because it makes no sense to plann a walk to a Gastoff... on its off day.
Near Caminata
15. Agust 15th Feast in Oberbozen
As a child, it used to be the top of my holyday in Ritten: the big fenced pasture in the village center was all adorned with traditional decorations, people - children incuded, me too - put on their most beautiful traditional clothes, there was a traditional musical band, traditional dances and traditional games. My favourite was a wooden merry-go-round that kids were making go running while children sat on small airplanes. I still remember the year I cried because I was grown too old to fly and I must run! Then there is Sud Tyrol traditional food, and a lot of beer. You go home happy and tipsy, persuaded - for a change - that life is good.

Well, life definitely looks good in Ritten. That's why I keep going there!

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