Territory dominated by the Dolomites is full of unexpected surprises and adventures, marvelous places which are hidden or little known, surrounded by a breathtaking scenery (not by chance, the Dolomites were elected Unesco World Heritage in 2009). Direttore responsabile: Claudio Palazzi
This kind of context is an authentic paradise, a triumph of purity and spiritual well-being, where it is possible to rediscover a precious inner dimension, thanks to a direct contact with Mother Earth.
Stressful and feverish cities seem light years away, in order to leave space to a different sustainable pace, capable of exalting slowness and serenity; and these unmistakable mountains, located in the North East of Italy, create the perfect environment to experiment a new way to communicate with the world and explore it.
Among them, a special valley is preserved, probably the most beautiful of all, and its name is Pustertal Valley, which constitutes a sort of bridge between Italy and Austria: this specific Dolomite side is rich in history and beauty, with many adorable villages and natural wonders to visit and, last but not least, various activities to make free time superlative.
Pustertal Valley is celebrated for its tidy and relaxing cycle routes, which cross luxuriant landscapes and unique views, connecting inhabited centers and waking up positive vibes and sensory sensitivity.
The enchanted village of San Candido is the starting point for many of these routes; nevertheless one of them, year by year, has become a must not only for two-wheels enthusiasts, but also for people of every age.
This is the atmosphere: following the Drava river, towards the hamlet of Versciaco, a verdant lawn stretches among San Candido borders and beautiful fir woods; close to this meadow, a thin cycle route coasts the river, ready to lead the cyclists to Austria, till to the city of Lienz, during summer.
The journey starts here.
Marvelous San Candido – Lienz cycle route
It is the most famous cycle route in South Tyrol and allows to go abroad without difficulties: San Candido is only 8 kilometers from Austrian frontier and, even if the cycle path till to Lienz is 44 kilometers long, it has a descent of about 550 meters in altitude and this characteristic makes the ride very pleasant (San Candido is located at 1175 meters over the sea level, while Lienz is at 673 over the sea level).
Though this feature is only one of the many excellent qualities which exalt the trip: you have the honor of pedaling on a striking path, meeting gracious corners, where nature and human being are in perfect balance with each other, in a continuous exchange of respect and cooperation.
Austrian borders are very close, so the transition to bilingual signs to only in German ones is almost immediate; this is one of many little details which makes the road so unusual and variegated and you cannot fail to notice them.
You can admire sights or feel sensations which are priceless, such as to whiz in the wind, during numerous descents, or the rustle of branches and the sound of streams; if you turn your gaze a little, avoiding to fall, wooden farms, similar to toy models, and impeccable gardens, decorated with every typology of colorful knick-knacks, are ready to catch your attention.
It is impossible to remain indifferent to that.
Along the way, there are several stops which should be considered, and one of them is the Heinfels Castle, the symbol of Eastern Pustertal Valley: it is built on a peak, above the hamlet of Panzendorf, and its ruins, which date back to V century, are already visible from a distance, with its numerous loopholes and palisades.
The castle had defensive purposes and its irregular shape attests the construction in different ages. The most ancient part of it, still kept today, dates back to XIII century, but the best preserved one was built in XVIII century; here the impressive knights’ room is located, however it isn’t visitable, because the mansion has been a private property since 1977.
Heinfels Castle is situated near the Sillian municipality, likely the most significant town along the cycle route, after having recently passed the border.
The village, at the foot of Thurntaler, is a famed tourist resort in Eastern Tyrol, suitable for sporty people as well as for culture lovers, and its parish church is a laudable artistic jewel, one of the most important of the area.
Maria Himmelfahrt’s Parish Church was quoted for the first time already in 1326 in an official document.
At the beginning, the building had a Gothic style, but it took a Baroque appearance in 1759 and its interiors are noteworthy: vault paintings and altarpieces were made by Josef Adam Mölck, painter of the Royal Tyrol Chamber, while apostles’ wooden sculptures were carried out by the Eastern Tyrolean sculptor Johan Patterer.
Close to Sillian, you can have a break in a famous wafer factory or have more fun at Wichtelpark, another corner of heaven in Tyrol, immersed in a regenerating forest, with slides, whose one is 30 meters long, seesaws and much more for adults and children.
At the end of the cycle route, Lienz shows as a remarkable goal; the town is nicknamed “The pearl of the Dolomites”, for its sunny position and its Mediterranean traits: flowers and palm trees bloom in the main square and its pedestrian centre on a human scale, bordered by colored houses, gives other moments of happiness and pleasure, having shopping or eating a refreshing ice cream (Lienz is a very hot city in the height of summer).
Not far from the centre, near to Bruck Castle, if you take the chairlift, you arrive to Moos Alm, an enchanted place where you can caress many farm animals and enjoy again in another playground; later, the “Osttirodler”, one of the longest Alpine Coaster of the world, waits for you to come back downstream by a tortuous and reckless descent (it is 2,7 km long!).
Adventures and emotions seem endless in this side of the Alps.
And that is true: San Candido – Lienz cycle route astonishes kilometer by kilometer, every tree or little deviation are witnesses of a parallel reality, where positive experiences are the only possible ones.
Thanks to this magical path, distances are getting shorter and 44 kilometers disappear without fatigue, because the breath of pure air repays any effort…
And, during travel by train to come back to San Candido, the sun, near its decline, touches body and mind across the windows, making memories of an unforgettable day even brighter.
Osttirodler. (n.d.). Tirolo. https://www.tirolo.tl/it/sport-e-tempo-libero/piste-per-slittini-su-rotaie/osttirodler/
San Candido – Lienz cycle route. (n.d.). Altapusteria. https://www.altapusteria.com/sport/estate-attiva/piste-ciclabili/ciclabile-san-candido-lienz/
San Candido – Lienz cycle route, Sillian, Lienz. (n.d.). Valpusteria. https://www.valpusteria.com/sport/estate-attiva/ciclismo-piste-ciclabili/san-candido-lienz.asp
Sillian, Lienz. (n.d.). Osttirol. https://www.osttirol.com/it/