Whoever visits the Fane Alm/Malga Fane alpine pasture village at the end of the Val di Valles today might think that people in the Middle Ages already had touristic visions back then. The small group of huts and taverns at 1,740 m above sea level is today not only the destination of many hikes during the annual Fane Festival or every two years at the big Milk Festival, but is simply one of the "must see" locations of the holiday region Gitschberg Jochtal/Rio Pusteria. Those who have not visited the little church with the three serviced huts at the foot of the Pfunderer mountains/Montagne di Fundres have not really been to Gitschberg Jochtal. One cannot go to Paris and "forget" the Eifel Tower.
Malga Fane alpine pasture
Place of Hope
The plague in Europe
Refuge to Malga Fane
However, it was not tourist visions that created the small village with the great history. The story is a much sadder one, but at the same time one full of hope and confidence.
The Black Death, a term for the disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, didn't stop in the Middle Ages even before the present day South Tyrol. Via trade routes such as the Silk Road, the pandemic also spread in Europe and caused the death of millions of people, especially in the middle of the 14th century. The doctors of the time were without a clue. None of the treatments were effective, the principle of infection was still completely unknown to medicine and an infection from animal to human was unimaginable.
Even the inhabitants of the Val di Valles feared the fever and the strange bumps that led to a quick death. The idea to seek refuge from the epidemic at the very top, far away from the traffic routes down in the valley, came to the resourceful inhabitants very soon. Thus, directly at the foot of the Pfunderer Mountains/Monagne di Fundres, the present village of Fane Alm/Malga Fane was formed, a place that no architect with even the most distinguished knowledge of Feng Shui could plan better today. Here the Chi flows not only in the wild stream of the Valler Bach and its gorge. Whether by chance, luck or even heavenly protection...no one can say this with certainty today, but people survived in this alpine settlement and stayed there for a long time. Only when the plague had stopped raging down in the valley did they return there. The alpine village was left behind and has changed very little since then.
It was not until centuries later that the Swiss doctor Alexandre Yersin discovered the plague pathogen and identified it as a bacterial infectious disease that was transmitted to fleas and humans primarily by rats and other rodents.
A discovery that unfortunately came much too late for people in the Middle Ages. Fortunately, the people of Valles already had their Malga Fane at that time, the most beautiful alpine village in South Tyrol. What today looks like an open-air museum is not only an alpine pasture with agriculture and rustic alpine huts to stop by, but above all a place of hope and a symbol of the resistance of its inhabitants.
Text: Sascha Russotti
Image header/banner: © Alex Filz provided by the Gitschberg Jochtal Tourist Office
Pictures photo gallery and retro photo Malga Fane: © Sascha Russotti
To Fane Alm/Malga Fane via Rotensteiner Höhenweg trail
A wonderful way to reach the Fane Alm/Malga Fane is the Rotensteiner Höhenweg trail.
This is the way to go:
By car or bus to the cable car Jochtal in Vals. From the Jochtal top station follow the signs "Rotensteiner Höhenweg". This panoramic alpine path No. 9 takes you to the idyllic alpine village of the Fane Alm (1,739 m) in about 2 h 40 min. Refreshment possibility. Via the Milchsteig trail you will get back to the cable car Jochtal in Vals.
Info: With the Almencard + from the Tratterhof you can use the Jochtal cable car, the public bus from Vals to Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria and the connecting cable car Mühlbach - Meransen free of charge. Therefore you do not necessarily need a car for this hike.
To Fane Alm / Malga Fane via Leitensteig trail
Start directly from the Tratterhof to the Fane Alm.
This is the way to go:
200 meters above the hotel on the left side follow the signs "Leitensteig/Vals". The rustic path runs through the forest to Vals to the valley station of the Jochtal cable car. From there you can take a leisurely walk to the Kurzkofelhütte (hut) into the valley. There you will find the entrance to the Milchweg/milk trail. This leads you to the alpine pasture village of the Fanealm/Malga Fane. For the way back take the same way back to the valley station of the cable car, where you take the bus to Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria with the Almencard+ advantage card, which is free of charge at the Tratterhof. The buses run every hour. Once in Mühlbach/Rio di Pusteria, take the cable car back to Meransen.