Gruppo di Tessa/Texelgruppe Nature Reserve
The Gruppo di Tessa/Texelgruppe Nature Reserva comprises an area of around 31,391 hectares (82,605 acres). It extends from Merano/Meran in the south to the Val Senales/Schnalstal in the west and the Val Passiria/Passeiertal to the east, while the Central Alpine Divide forms its northern border.
Its name derives from the Tessa/Texel massif, the spectacular mountain backdrop to the town of Merano which graces countless postcards. The Ötztal Alps border onto the area to the north. This is where "Ötzi", the Bronze Age "Man from the Glacier" was discovered and became a worldwide archaeological sensation. Water and ice have contributed considerably in forming the architecture of the mountains and valleys. During the last Ice Age massive glaciers covered the area comprising the present-day nature reserve. Its most famous attraction is the waterfall at Parcines/Partschins which, during the snow-melt period, is one of the most impressive falls in the entire Alpine area. The swollen Zielbach stream shoots out several metres from the rock face before crashing 97 metres to valley. Precipitation in South Tyrol's western valleys is meagre. Centuries ago this led farmers here to dig irrigation channels to divert glacier water onto their fields. They are called "Waale" and are a characteristic feature of the cultivated landscape, often forming lush green strips across the otherwise steppe-like mountainsides. They form an intricate system of ditches, wooden flumes and sluice gates, carrying water for over 20 km in places. Many of these Waale are still in use and their maintenance pathways provide pleasant walks. The Nature Reserve Visitor Centre at Naturno/Naturns focuses on the theme of water, featuring among other things a simulated spring biotope and explains the irrigation technique used in the construction of the Waale. Local fish species and other water fauna can be observed in the three aquariums and visitors can learn to recognise the songs of the birds found in the nature reserve.