The Val Vestino can be considered a real pearl within the Alto Garda Natural Park. An uncontaminated territory, full of nature, history and ancient traditions.
Located west of Lake Garda, the valley belongs administratively to the municipalities of Magasa and Valvestino and is characterized by a mainly mountainous territory, which develops along the Toscolano stream and its tributaries. A visit to Val Vestino leads to the discovery of a real natural treasure which, through the local museums, turns into a suggestive journey back in time.
The villages – Fascinating rurality.
A peculiar feature of the valley is that it contains as many as 8 small villages, which are home to about 300 inhabitants, divided into two municipalities: Valvestino and Magasa. The latter, the most populous, is located at about 900m above sea level and is surrounded by a green setting. Further down, close together we find Armo, People, and Turano. Respectively defined as “the village of ancient pines”, “a crossroads of paths” and “the heart of the valley”. Bollone, located on the hill, offers a beautiful view of the valley and is the one with the largest territory. Moerna also offers a splendid 360 ° view and surrounded by green meadows it represents the entrance to the valley coming from Lake Idro. Cadria is instead the smaller village, a tiny cluster of houses located towards the bottom of the valley of the Droanello stream. At almost 1300m we find Cima Rest, certainly the most famous village (which deserves a separate study). They also have a very special and fascinating feature. In fact, each village seems isolated from the world, as it is very difficult, if not impossible, being inside one to see another. On the other hand, it is possible to enjoy several at the same time by climbing to high altitudes, or along the winding roads of the area.
Cima Rest – A unique place.
In the northern part of the valley is the most iconic of the villages: Cima Rest. A beautiful plateau made up of large meadows, scattered with small barns with thatched roofs, another peculiar feature of the Val Vestino. The roofs, with their steep slopes, are in fact made with cereal stalks and currently represent a very rare example in Lombardy. In the background stands Mount Tombea and at its feet the malghe producing the famous and homonymous cheese. All around we can see lush deciduous and coniferous forests, home to numerous and spectacular trails, which literally explode with color in autumn. Among the houses we find the ethnographic museum of Val Vestino and higher up even a wonderful astronomical observatory.
A paradise for nature lovers.
The territory represents a real refuge for fauna and a floristic paradise. In fact, it is not uncommon to see various types of animals crossing the valley, especially at sunset. Numerous ungulates such as roe deer and deer live among the beech and Scots pine woods, while further up it is easy to spot chamois and ibex. There are also marmots and several examples of black grouse and the very rare capercaillie. Among the top predators, golden eagles, eagles and eagle owls stand out, and the valley also occasionally hosts bearded vultures, bears, lynxes and wolves. What can I say, for animal lovers it is a real paradise. The floristic importance of the park was already known in 700, when some botanists exploring the valley identified several not yet known species. A heritage still alive today, with the presence of various botanical endemisms (species that are found only in a specific restricted area). There are 21 in total, of which 8 are included in the world Red List as critically endangered species.
History and culture – What to see.
As anticipated, these territories are rich in history and traditions. In this regard, it is possible to visit some places, located in the valley, where numerous ancient finds are exhibited . The Val Vestino ethnographic museum tells the traditions that have shaped communities and places, traveling a journey through time. For botany enthusiasts it is possible to visit the “Don Pietro Porta” museum, where centenary artifacts are collected, by the Don of the same name. To dive into the ancient working daily life of the locals, I recommend the “Milk Museum”, the “Ancient Sawmill” and the “Old water mill”.
The old submerged customs.
Let’s talk about a very fascinating story. In fact, in the depths of the artificial lake created in the valley floor lies a construction dating back to the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire , formerly ruler of the Val Vestino. It is a customs house built in the nineteenth century, which regulated the passage of people and goods, in operation until the First World War. As mentioned, even if by now submerged by the waters it occasionally resurfaces , generating great curiosity among visitors. Being able to visit the Lignano Customs House is therefore not easy and obvious, you need to seize the moment.
Sports and outdoor activities.
The area offers countless possibilities for lovers of trekking and mountain biking. The Alto Garda Park is dotted with paths and the Val Vestino even more. There are alternatives with various levels of difficulty, therefore accessible to a really wide audience. It is possible to climb to the summit up to over 2000m and see Lake Garda, or go into the woods of the valley in search of animals and enjoy breathtaking views. The summer period is highly recommended, when the snow has given way to lush vegetation and then autumn, with the explosion of colors typical of local beech forests.
Ideal places for photographers.
At this point you will have by now understood how Val Vestino can offer many photographic opportunities. In fact, we pass from unspoiled nature, rich in flora and fauna, to classic ancient villages. In addition to the suggestive barns scattered in the valley, there are several small churches and characteristic buildings. Finally, it is good to remember that these places also enjoy good sky for astrophotography enthusiasts, and more. So let’s not miss the opportunity to move a little away from Lake Garda, to lie down in a meadow and enjoy thousands of stars.
How to reach the valley.
Along the western Gardesana, the road that runs along the Lake Garda on the west side, you travel to the town of Gargnano. Then turn left, taking the state road 9 / SP9. Val Vestino is also accessible from Vallesabbia, climbing from Lake Idro and then taking to Capovalle.
Who should visit?
Simple answer, absolutely everyone! Given the variety of scenarios available, there are no age or training limits that they take. The desire to explore territories kept intact over time is enough, with nature and traditions taking center stage. Once in the valley, the proposals are many, as well as the facilities to stay overnight and enjoy excellent local specialties.
For more information, you can consult the official website of Val Vestino.
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Hotels – Restaurants – Experiences on Lake Garda.
On Lake Garda there are many structures in which to stay, from small and well-kept B&B’s to resorts with wellness centers and beauty services, in the section dedicated to hotels find all the information you need to find the most suitable accommodation for you.
The same goes for restaurants, at this link you will find our selection of restaurants on Lake Garda. Remembering that Lake Garda offers several starred restaurants and the quality of the culinary offer is very high.
There are many activities and experiences you can do on Lake Garda, so we recommend you visit the section dedicated to experiences in our magazine by clicking here.
See you next time dear Outdoors!