Quaint villages and hamlets seem to spring up from South Tyrol’s fertile valleys and hillsides nearly as much as the area’s vineyards and orchards. Each one provides its own medieval flair and charm within a picturesque setting.
Whether you’re taking a well-deserved break from the fast-paced, monotony of daily life or simply a reprieve from hiking or skiing, South Tyrol gives you a treasure trove of opportunities to slow down, rejuvenate and explore villages and hamlets unspoiled by the grip of modern life.
Chiusa / Klausen
The village of Chiusa / Klausen brims with charisma amidst vineyards and chestnut forests. You can stroll through narrow alleyways dotted by cafes, inns and pubs. This sleepy village bustles twice a year during the Chestnut Days in autumn and the Christmas market during the holiday season.
Celebrated as the “City of Artists”, the Museum of Klausen holds an impressive collection of religious art and the Treasure of Loreto, an endowment from Queen Maria Anna of Spain around 1700.
Overlooking the medieval town, the monastery of Sabiona rises from a craggy cliff with vineyards leading to its door step. Sabiona is South Tyrol’s most ancient pilgrimage site.
Vipiteno / Sterzing
The village of Vipiteno / Sterzing first began as an ancient Roman military camp in 14 B.C. For centuries the village was a sought after refuge for the wealthiest and most powerful of South Tyrol. However, today, Sterzing is a storybook retreat made for all. Geranium-packed window boxes vibrantly line the streets offering you an inviting stroll past arcaded shops to the village’s most well-known sight: the Zwölferturm high tower. This striking clock tower soars over the town center and was erected in the 1400s.
After you have soaked in all that Sterzing has to offer, you’ll also want to make a visit to the remarkable Refeinstein Castle located on a bluff outside the village. The castle was once home to a chapter of the Teutonic Knights and is celebrated as one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in all of Europe. A visit to Refeinstein will leave you with a true sense for what it was like to live in the Middle Ages.
Tirolo / Dorf Tirol
The village of Tirol goes back more than 1,400 years. Like the castle the village lends its name to, Tirol sits high above a lush green valley and offers awe-inspiring views of Alpine and Mediterranean terrain mingling together. The village is easily accessible by foot or chairlift. Two additional castles in the vicinity impress upon visitors the strategic importance of Tirol to the region.
Tirol is well placed at the center of a network of promenades — making it a perfect resting place after a hike. Just off the trails you can quench your thirst with a crisp glass of fresh apfelsaft and savor a plate of hearty knödel underneath an intricate arrangement of vines.
The Church of St. John the Baptist resides in the middle of the village and dates back to the 12th century. It contains historic Gothic wood carvings and is surrounded by a stunning Alpine cemetery dotted with ornate headstones that could be considered a work of art on their own.