“Der Keschtnigl stupft und sticht, was dahinter isch, verspricht, eppas bsunders Guets zu sein, schmeckt am besten zun an Wein” (The chestnut stuffs and stings. Behind it is a delicious promise that is paired best with wine.) -Hans Fink, South Tyrolean writer
No other tree shapes the landscape of the Isarco/Eisacktal Valley as strongly as the chestnut. Chestnut (Castanea sativa) trees can live for 500 to 600 years, growing up to 30 meters high with an expansive crown and twisted trunk. Where did this well-known nut fruit actually originate, though? The Armenians cultivated it, the Romans brought it to Europe, and it has been grown in the Isarco Valley for centuries. So today we still enjoy these “sweet fruits from antiquity."
From the Middle Ages to the late nineteenth century, the sweet chestnut was a staple of the rural population in the mountain regions. Chestnuts are gluten-free: celiacs can thus use the flour derived from them as a grain replacement.
Chestnut Valley, Keschtntal in the local dialect, is an area of particular beauty in all four seasons. In spring the hillsides of the Chestnut Valley are bathed in the luminous blue of countless liverwort flowers. In summer the giant trees attract attention with the intensely sweet-and-tart aroma of their flowers, while their mighty crowns provide refreshing shade. The valley is blanketed in chestnut hedgehogs and exquisite fruit in autumn, with chestnut leaves rustling underfoot. In winter, rays of sunshine beam through the branches and twigs of the chestnut trees.
The Chestnut Valley forms the central part of a hiking trail along the eastern edge of Natz-Schabs, about 10 to 15 minutes away from the village. The romantic path leads past apple trees, through richly colored forests and green meadows to the stately chestnut trees.