Naifjoch Vista a terrace above Meran
As soon as we arrive at the office, we're off again to the Meran 2000 hiking and skiing area, where an eventful day awaits us. Luckily the weather is on our side today, as the last few days have been cold and rainy.
We park at the Naif valley station and take the first ropeway at 8.30 am. This early in the morning, it's still not very busy, and we have almost the entire cabin of the Meran 2000 ropeway to ourselves. We quickly gain altitude. Houses, meadows, cars and roads become smaller and our gaze wanders into the distance. Rich forests alternate with green slopes and lush meadows before merging into bare mountain peaks – a unique and varied landscape. Then the ropeway slows down and finally stops completely, because we have arrived at the Piffing mountain station. It's hard to believe that you can climb 1,000 metres in altitude in 7 minutes! We get off the mountain ropeway and take a deep breath. The fresh air gives us a pleasant feeling of happiness – we savour the moment. A children's paradise surrounds us here: the Outdoor Kids Camp with its wooden ball track, tunnel slide and trampoline. Right next door, the Alpin Bob toboggan run provides plenty of fun for young and old.
The new Cableway Naifjoch
For us, however, the journey continues with the new Cableway Naifjoch to the middle station and the Naifjoch VISTA viewpoint. This is located below Meran's mighty local mountain, the Ifinger. The journey is smooth and quiet. After just a few minutes, we reach our destination: the middle station of the Naifjoch Cableway on the edge of the Naif Gorge at 2,030 metres above sea level. There is a geological and geomorphological peculiarity here at the edge of the Naifjoch to the Naif Valley: the grey-white Ifinger granite changes to the red rock of the Etschtal volcanite complex, also known as Bozner quartz porphyry. This special red colour of the porphyry can also be found in the building elements of the mountain station. The slightly reddish shimmering concrete of the roof terrace and the rust-coloured Corten steel cladding echo the colouring of the red rock. The architects ARTEC Vienna | Wien really thought of everything during the planning: materials, form and colours reflect the beauty of the surrounding nature in a unique way. Without being obtrusive, the cableway blends harmoniously into the existing landscape.
Naifjoch VISTA – a special viewpoint
The viewpoint is located directly above the middle station of the Cableway Naifjoch. Stairs painted in various shades of brown and red lead us up to the wide roof terrace of the Naifjoch VISTA viewpoint. It seems as if you are climbing up through a gateway to the blue sky. The colours are perfectly matched to the earth tones of the rocky gorge next to it – from light to dark and back again.
Once we reach the top, we are greeted by a magnificent panoramic view of the city of Meran and the surrounding mountains. We are overcome by a feeling of freedom and infinity. We take a seat on one of the large, round seats that look like giant stones and pause for a moment. With every breath we take, we leave the hustle and bustle of the city more and more behind us. We close our eyes and listen to the sounds of our surroundings. A fresh breeze blows through our hair, and we can hear occasionally cowbells ringing in the distance.
We open our eyes again and go to the round peep boxes to see which of us can guess the most mountain peaks. We actually recognise many of them: the Ortler, Monte Cevedale, the Königsspitze and other beautiful 3,000-metre peaks never fail to impress. Then we dare to take a souvenir photo through the aperture of the large lens on the viewing platform. This can be opened and closed with a twisting motion – the focus changes, and we see many exciting photo motifs.
Hike to the Kleiner Ifinger
We didn't really want to spend too much time on the Naifjoch VISTA platform, but with such a breathtaking mountain backdrop, you just can't help yourself. Several hikes and mountain tours start from here, such as those to the Kleiner and Großer Ifinger, the panoramic Missensteinerjoch, the Plattenspitze or the Lake Kratzberg. We have a look at the hiking maps: the choice is huge. In the end, we decide on the Kleiner Ifinger, which lies at an altitude of 2,552 metres. The normal route is well signposted and leads up the Ifinger via the east ridge. We follow signpost no. 3 past the Waidmann alp. The route then continues somewhat steeper over a grassy slope with great views on trail no. 19A. It must be particularly beautiful here in early summer, when the colourful mountain flowers transform the green grassy slopes into a sea of colourful flowers. From afar, at the foot of the Oswald ridge and between the peaks of the Ifinger and Plattinger, we can see the small tower of St. Oswald's little church. The little church stands at 2,365 metres on a small flat alpine pasture and was consecrated to St. Oswald for protection against storms. Even though there is no direct hiking trail, we still decide to take a look inside. We are lucky and can enjoy a special, mystical atmosphere in quiet solitude.
Back on the hiking trail, we walk past the Kuhleiten hut and follow the signposting no. 19 until we reach a fork in the path: Left to the Kleiner Ifinger, right to the Großer Ifinger, the 25 m higher main summit, which can only be climbed with climbing equipment. The path winds its way up to the summit, becoming somewhat more rugged and steeper, until we finally reach the long-awaited Kleiner Ifinger and are rewarded with an incredible view. Before us lie the imposing peaks of the Ortler massif, the Adamello group and the Brenta Dolomites all the way to Monte Baldo on Lake Garda. To the north, we marvel at the Texel Group and the Zillertal and Ötztal Alps. On the eastern side, our gaze finally wanders to the Catinaccio and other legendary Dolomite peaks. We take out our binoculars to have a closer look at this rugged world of rock, water and snow. We admire the skilfully crafted metal eagle and how it sits enthroned on the Kleiner Ifinger. Then we make our way back down.
Our stomachs are already rumbling as we descend, as it is already past midday. We stop off at the Weidmann hut to have a snack before taking the cableway and mountain railway back down to the valley.