Go with the flow in the Val di Non
Roaming the wilds on the trail of the noblest element in this natural idyll
The simple act of walking lets you relate to nature and get back in touch with your own inner world. All you have to do is get outside and put one foot in front of the other. Marathon treks and strenuous climbs can be great, but it’s best to start small and build gradually. Even a short stroll can help you enjoy the benefits of walking, if you do it regularly – and mindfully. As you progress, try to become more aware of your surroundings, your movement, the passage of time. Pay attention to the rhythmical spring of your feet, the ground beneath you and the myriad stories it can tell.
The walks we’ll show you are on easy paths lacing the gentle sweep of the Val di Non. And they have many a tale to relate. Tales of people, the guardians of an Alpine valley, the flow of time and the most important element of life here: water.
The Val di Non is Trentino’s longest valley. It makes a fine sight, its undulating slopes embroidered with a patchwork of apple orchards and imposing medieval castles. The sheer sense of space this landscape exudes is due mainly to the expanse of water lapping at its “three shores”.
The placid waters of Lake Santa Giustina – created in 1951 when Europe’s then largest dam, at 152 metres high, was built – soften the craggy natural aspect of this aeons-deep valley. Time and the scouring of the atmosphere have hewn cavernous canyons and yawning ravines.
Water is the element that runs through this land, uniting it in more than just a geographical sense. In this extensively farmed area, its role is even more vital. Come with us as we unfold the story of this intimate, age-old bond, on undemanding walks under a warming sun. You’ll find a feeling of harmony and peace as you explore what the locals call the lezi.
These paths are the stuff of distant history. They date from the days when bringing water for the crops meant relying on human grit and the force of gravity alone. The lezi were actually dug by hand through the local people’s tenacity and toil, bringing water down to the towns and villages in the valley. Today, after major restoration and maintenance, some of these channels have found new purpose as footpaths. Thanks to their controlled gradients, originally to stay the flow of water and reduce erosion, they make for easy walking.
From winter to summer, from the highest peaks in the Maddalene range to the humblest valley floors, water has a life cycle of its own that takes many forms. As spring sidles in, the snow starts to melt and the icicles begin to distil their noisy drops. Trickles become streams that stripe the mountain meadows and slide downhill, swelling the many lakes like the well-known Smeraldo, Tret and Tovel.
But it’s a well-kept secret that the seasonal thaw and burgeoning aquifers also create fleeting new lakes of a bright turquoise colour, called intermittent lakes.
The water flows into the Noce streams and the Rio Novella, bubbling and singing with life. And it’s super cool even on the hottest of days. Days when the irrigators whirl away to slake the apple trees’ thirst, like a troupe of dancers pirouetting in unison.
But the ice returns to shield the delicate apple blossoms as the thermometer soon plummets again, confounding the lazy buzz of the greedy bees and placing the fruit’s development in peril. Liberally doused for protection, the icy trees transform the landscape into a world of enchanting beauty. The fields and orchards become a single piece of sparkling lacework.
As you see, in the Val di Non and Trentino in general, water is the queen of the mountains, the essence of life. After the ice and snow and the teeming runnels and rivulets that vaporise in cascades, it all ends up encased in the rocks and the splendid lakes.
Come and tap in to its flow. Sense it as you stride out and slake your thirst for knowledge, for adventure, for the genuine joys.