Three-thousanders in view: South Tyrol's "Little Tibet" attracts mountaineers

In a pristine South Tyrolean valley you can find a place that is also known as "Little Tibet".

Three-thousanders in view: South Tyrol's "Little Tibet" attracts mountaineers

In a pristine South Tyrolean valley you can find a place that is also known as "Little Tibet". Mud looks back on a long history and today primarily attracts hikers. Above all, the valley offers seclusion in winter and summer.

In the Ötztal Alps there is a village nicknamed "Little Tibet". The reason? The place is surrounded by high mountains - some over 3000 meters high. For many hikers, the village of Matsch is a starting point for tours into the high mountains. But not only that: The small roof of the world exudes a special atmosphere.

The mountaineering village of Matsch, Italian Mazia, is already at an altitude of over 1500 meters. The place belongs to the municipality of Malles im Vinschgau in South Tyrol. Only 460 inhabitants live here, which of course also means that it is very isolated. The landscape is characterized by black pine forests and steppe vegetation. Many animals live in the unique natural setting - in addition to chamois and other wild species, golden eagles and bearded vultures are at home here.

The place was first mentioned in 824, at that time under a different name. The Celts are said to have settled here around 400 BC. Powerful bailiffs once lived in the Obermatsch and Untermatsch castles, the ruins of which still remain today. Up until the 16th century, they were among the most respected noble families in Vinschgau. The original mountain farming culture can still be felt today. In 2017 Matsch was named the first South Tyrolean mountaineering village of the international Alpine Club initiative.

From here numerous hiking trails lead into the untouched nature. How about the Vinschger Höhenweg, for example? This leads through the most beautiful valley sections at around 2000 meters above sea level. Hikers have to plan almost four hours for this. The second highest mountain in the Ötztal Alps, the Weißkugel, towers 3,739 meters into the sky. Glacier equipment is required here. But also the Rabenkopf (3394 meters) or the Valvelspitze (3360 meters) are popular destinations in the area. The Ortler, at 3905 meters the highest mountain in South Tyrol, can also be seen from there.

(This article was first published on Sunday, November 27, 2022.)

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