This tour is like a journey through the history of the Etsch / Adige Valley. You will pass through historical villages on its sun-drenched eastern flank, though arcades and narrow lanes. And the highlight is a mystical, hilly landscape – an ancient cult site and important biotope that has lost none of its magical appeal. Castelfeder, situated in the "Unterland" district of South Tyrol between the villages of Auer / Ora and Montan / Montagna, is an ancient cult site on prominent display in the landscape. Extravagant geological formations and enormous boulders left behind by receding glaciers can be seen at various elevations. This wild and romantic hilly landscape exerts an unaccountably powerful attraction on every visitor. Castelfeder is the subject of numerous legends and stories. The so-called "Kuchelen" on the highest level are the remains of a ring wall dating back to the Early Middle Ages. The smoothly polished slide at its highest dome is believed to be associated with an ancient fertility cult. It was thought that childless women could get offspring by rubbing the stones dedicated to Mother Earth. The reasons for building the Fleims / Fiemme Valley railroad at the southern edge of the magic hill had less to do with pagan rituals, and more with practical necessity: It leads up from the foot of the Etsch / Adige Valley to the San Lugano Pass and into the "Val di Fiemme." In the 1960s, the railroad was mothballed. Today, cyclists are glad that they can use this old route as a bicycle path. It's a steep ascent over the eastern flank of the Etsch / Adige Valley. The trail takes you first through the magical labyrinth of Castelfeder. This ascent begins at the Etsch Bicycle Trail between Auer and Neumarkt / Egna. To get there, follow the bicycle route from Kaltern / Caldaro and past Lake Caldaro down to Auer and along the Etsch River to the south. After ascending through the mystical biotope, you will continue uphill into the historical center of the village of Montan. After that, you'll enjoy an unobstructed view of the Etsch / Adige Valley as you continue to the small hamlet of Pinzon / Pinzano and down to Neumarkt. In earlier days, Neumarkt was an important commercial center along the Etsch Valley Route; the charming arcades from its heyday are a reminder of its earlier importance. On the route from Montan and then back down into the valley, you'll encounter another visual marvel: The viaduct near the little village of Glen, a looped bridge which the engineers used to elegantly smooth out the necessary hairpin bend of the railroad in the somewhat steeper area of the slope. This roundtrip offers numerous photo-ops, so plan some extra time to stop and take a few snapshots. From Neumarkt, the route then returns you along the bicycle trail via Lake Caldaro up to Kaltern. You can now celebrate the completion of your tour with an espresso or a glass of delicious Caldaro wine.
Variants: This roundtrip tour can be taken in either direction. If you take it in reverse order, you'll begin in Neumarkt / Egna and visit the Castelfeder last. But because the route crosses the street between Neumarkt and Montan / Montagna, you can also limit yourself to looping backwards via Pinzon / Pinzano and Montan, or you can completely forgo this loop.
Kaltern - Ora - Castelfeder - Egna - Kaltern
Level of difficulty: Medium