Farewell to summer pastures
Every Indian summer on the high pastures has to come to an end. Herdsmen and livestock prepare to return to their winter quarters in the valley, often to be welcomed back with an exquisite rural festival.
The event has turned into a thanksgiving festival for farmers, herdsmen and shepherds who decorate their cows and sheep with bells and artistically plaited garlands before droving them down to the valley and leading them through the village. They are greeted with a traditional country festival including Tyrolean folk music and guests are regaled with local delicacies from the rural cuisine. The Renon/Ritten mountain is a high area of table land above Bolzano, where the Farmers come up to the Rittner Alm in the morning to inspect their livestock with music and food, after which the festivities move down to Pemmern where celebrations become less traditional in character with partying going on into the night.
Similar festivities take place in the uppermost Venosta/Vinschgau valley where visitors can also watch sheep being shorn; the event is called the ‘Schafschoad'. See links area. For centuries shepherds in the Val Senales/Schnalstal valley have been droving their sheep to summer pastures in the Austrian Venter Tal valley. It is an amazing spectacle to watch up to 3,500 sheep accompanied by shepherds and sheepdogs snaking their way across the Hochjoch (2,857 metres) and Niederjoch (3,019 metres) saddles, both still snow-mantled in mid June. The exhausting 44 kilometre trek takes 2 days. The men and animals have to overcome 3,200 metres difference in altitude on the outward march and 1,800 metres on their return. To mark the occasion both local people and holidaymakers will welcome back the shepherds, drovers and sheep with a grand festival including music and typical culinary specialities from the Val Senales area. Energetic hikers can accompany the arduous progression of the sheep on the trail of the Man from the Glacier, Ötzi. Around 2,000 sheep are expected at Maso Corto/Kurzras, with another 2,000 animals expected at Vernago/Vernagt. On both days the returns of the sheep are followed by festivities. The twin valley, the Valli di Tures & Aurina/Tauferer Ahrntal is one of South Tyrol's most Alpine areas where livestock is also driven up to the high pastures to save the grass in the valley for winter fodder. Here two 'Almabtrieb' festivals take place, a major celebration at Rein in Taufers/Riva di Tures with entertainment and regional cuisine. The village of Terento/Terenten near Brunico/Bruneck will be the venue for a major "Almabtrieb" festival when a train of 100 colourfully decorated cows and sheep will parade through the village accompanied by their herdsmen and shepherds.