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The Ways of Ritten, Bolzano

A highland plateau close to South Tyrol’s capital of Bolzano, Ritten is a popular area for summer visits due to its number of summer spas and cool hiking trails. Located between the river Talvera and Iscarco, you can get the best views of the Dolomites from here.

The region is home to a fair number of wineries and it’s worth noting that vineyards cover half the hills under Oberbozen, including the famous St. Magdalener.

The Rittnerbahn of the Dolomites

The classic way to Oberbozen on board the Rittnerbahn, which was first put in service in 1907 (from the time of Austrian Emperor Franz Josef) and is still in use today. The train links the villages of Maria Himmelfahrt, Oberbozen, Wolfsgruben, Lichtenstern and Klobenstein.

These days, you can hop onto a cable car and get here much quicker.

Medieval church

There are over 350km of hiking routes that slice through this landscape, most of which offer amazing panoramic views of the Dolomites. Themed hiking trails are accessible from Oberbozen, including the Ritten Theme Walkway and the Chestnut Way, which pass through Roman roads, Earth Pyramids, vineyards and pasture lands.

View of the Dolomites in the distance

The Ritten Theme Walkway retraces the routes once taken by historical Imperial processions since the time of the Rhaetians. Nicknamed the ‘Emperor’s Road’, it has seen over 60 historical Imperian processions due to the fact that the canyon of the Eisack river was not passable until 1480.

An old trough, probably for the horses in the Roman era

The trail cuts through farms, pastures, orchards and vineyards, with the mountains of the Dolomites ever present. Along the shady trail, you may catch glimpses of troughs, stone paths and ruins, remnants of the old days.

An earth pyramid created by soil erosion in the Ritten plateau

Along the way, you can see ‘Earth Pyramids’, resembling orange soil spikes that tower along the mountainsides. These are created by erosion – look closely at a pinnacle and you’ll see a rock perched atop. These aren’t thrown by passers by – these rocks actually prevent soil erosion from the top, as the rest of the earth surrounding the stone is washed out. A pinnacle without a stone at the top will erode quickly.

A farm in the hillside

The walkway is mainly indicated by a blue-and-white markers which are smeared on any available surface (tree trunks, large stones, etc). As the Ritten Theme Path is a circular 2-hour walk, you can deviate onto other paths like the Chestnut Path (Keschtnweg), which takes you into orchards and pastures.

Sheep grazing

Apart from the breathtaking landscape of the Dolomites and the Ritten plateau, the farms and orchards that line the trail make for pleasant detours.

A picturesque farm with the Dolomites in the backdrop

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