Vinschgau: Paradise on the other side of the buffers
The train journey ends in Scuol. And it is not any old train journey. No, they all end here. This is where RhB’s tracks stop. Projects to extend the railway into Vinschgau are in existence but they have not (yet) been implemented and there is so much to see and experience on this route!
It is less than 20 kilometres from Scuol to the Italian border. A stone’s throw in other words. And yet it is a step which is hard to take, with the train at least. Scuol is actually the end station. There is no train connection between Engadin and Vinschgau in South Tyrol. The „International Action Committee for a Train Link between Engadin and Vinschgau“ has been campaigning to close this gap in the European railway network since 2009. We have however known since last autumn that the project has been temporarily postponed by the Graubünden cantonal government. But don’t worry, RhB and its partners do nevertheless make it possible for passengers to reach Vinschgau – by Postbus or bus from Scuol or Zernez to Mals with the journey then continuing on the new Vinschgau Line.
In addition: Graubünden and Vinschgau are linked by a legend which is many centuries old. Benedetg Fontana, the political intermediary and Swiss captain on the Fürstenburg in Vinschgau, distinguished himself heroically in the Swabian War of 1499. During the Battle of Calven in Val Müstair he is said to have rallied his fellow fi ghters with the following utterance before dying: „Today is for the people and for the Leagues* or never.“ An RhB train is also named after the hero: railcar 3507 is called Benedetg Fontana. (* Canton of Graubünden)
Gastronomic pleasure in the mountains
Everyone will defi nitely get their money’s worth in Vinschgau from a culinary perspective. In spring there is sparagus from Lower Vinschgau and summer is time for cherries, strawberries and apricots, the so-called Vinschger Marillen. The Vinschgau apples which were once sent to the Kaiser’s court in Vienna and even the Tsar’s court in St. Petersburg are almost legendary. Apple cultivation in Vinschgau stretches from Partschins to the north of Meran down to Schluderns in central Vinschgau. Climatic conditions in the valley and the many days of sunshine are ideal for growing many popular types of apples like Golden Delicious for example.
Of knights and monks
Anyone with an interest in medieval culture will require several stops in Vinschgau. Close to the Reschen Pass for example where the Adige originates and a lonely church tower protrudes out of the water in the reservoir. Or in the Marienberg Benedictine abbey in Burgeis. Schloss Churburg near Schluderns with the arcade and the largest collection of knight’s armour in Europe is also worth a visit as is Reinhold Messner’s Schloss Juval.
Dolce far niente
Meran has been known to nobility for many centuries for its mild and therapeutic climate. Over time the people of Meran developed their competence in health treatments further. This led to the spa resort also becoming a thermal spa in 1940. At the beginning of the seventies the health spa in Meran came into existence and the thermal baths in Meran were finally opened in December 2005 with an interior by the world-renowned designer Matteo Thun. Meran afi cionados of old also include Empress Sissi of Austria and the writers Morgenstern, Rilke, Schnitzler and Kafka.
A unique specimen of the Vinschgau valley comes from Laas and Göfl an: white marble which has been quarried on the Nördersberg since ancient times. In the 19th century marble from Laas was used in magnifi cent buildings in great cities like Vienna, London, Rome and Berlin. This stone was also used in the hall of the main station in New York. The oldest evidence of the use of Laas marble outside the Tyrol is however found in Chur; a marble gravestone was obtained from the Vinschgau valley for Chur’s „praeses“ Viktor around 720 AD. The marble statue of Charlemagne in the St. Johann abbey in Müstair, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1983, is also well known.