Contemplation, Outdoor Recreation & Cuisine

 

Contemplative holidays in South Tyrol between the Mendel Pass and Mount Luco in the Upper Val di Non Valley.

No ordinary holiday resort, Senale is a special and enchanting mountain village with each day bringing with it a full and satisfying experience. The attraction of the ancient Holy Sanctuary together with the stillness and sounds of the forest, numerous outdoor activities and recreational options combine into a unique and enticing package.

In the woods and mountain pastures of the Upper Val di Non Valley, a cluster of settlements and bustling farmsteads have grown around the historical church ensconced between Mount Luco and the Mendel Pass. A magnet for pilgrims since the 12th Century, even today the sanctuary continues to emanate a spiritual aura. The historic Zum Hirschen Hotel – just across the way from the holy site – is visible from a distance, blends into the village skyline. This tranquil hospice that once welcomed tired pilgrims and wayfarers, today retains its refined and tasteful simplicity as a contemporary hotel.

On our arrival at the Zum Hirschen Hotel, we were immediately taken with the warm reception we received by the owner himself, who welcomed us with a short but spirited tour of what transpired within these ancient walls. As medieval pilgrims embarked on long and perilous spiritual journeys to the holy site centuries ago, today eager holidaymakers come to seek refuge from the hubbub of city life. At the Cervo Restaurant and Bistro on the hotel veranda I also discovered a sumptuous, original and salubrious cuisine yielding precious moments of blissful indulgence.

During its recent renovations, some of the original features were rediscovered, reaffirming the Zum Hirschen as a choice destination where visitors can enjoy peace and contemplation as easily as mountain hiking or biking. With a touch of irony, the owner proudly showed me the landscape surrounding the hotel, quipping: Thanks to these woods and valleys, we like to call ourselves: “Little Canada". The shine in his eyes and the intensity of his expression is a reaffirmation of our host’s passion – extending to the entire Mocatti family – keen to share the beauty of this land with their guests.

We learnt that the hotel's philosophy is based on three principles: outdoor activities in a pristine mountain landscape; relaxation/recreation as well as degustation of the local gastronomic delicacies. In the words of Juvenal, the ancient Roman poet, many centuries ago when the Romans had already settled this area bordering the Italian and Germanic territories: Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body. Often repeated by the owner of the Zum Hirschen, we appreciated the meaning of this wise Latin saying time and again during our wonderful stay at the Zum Hirschen Hotel!