When the days become shorter, nights become cooler and fodder on the alpine pastures starts to dwindle, the time has come to drive the cattle back down into the valley. Cows, sheep and goats are dressed festively for the occasion, especially the 'Leitkuh' or matriarch of the herd. Head wreaths are elaborately crafted and adorned with sayings, religious images and artistic embroidery. The animals also wear alpine roses, mountain pines, bells and mirrors. The tradition dates back to times that were full of privation and unsafe for people living in the Alps. Adorning the animals was a way of showing gratitude for the fact that the people and cattle had survived the summer, and was also believed to keep evil forces at bay.
The home-comers are eagerly awaited down in the valley, where they are greeted with a huge celebration, with food, drink, as well as music and merrymaking all around.
Saturday 21 September is the date set for the Almabtrieb in the Giovo valley (Valgiovo or Jaufental). Around 90 cattle are driven from the mountain pastures, the Bergalm, the Ontrattalm and the Bärnfiechtalm, down into the valley. They are scheduled to arrive at the Sennerhof (Jaufentalerhof) by around noon. The festivities begin at 11 a.m. with rousing music from the "Duo Südtirol" and added entertainment with a performance by the Schuhplattlerinnen, a group of typical folk dancers of the "Wipptoler Plattlgitschn".
On Saturday, 28 September the Almabtrieb will be held in Masseria (Maiern) in the Ridanna valley. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. Guests can expect to find local specialities such as Krapfen (doughnuts) or "Schöpsernes" (mutton), as well as home-made products to take home with them from the farmers' market. Traditional sounds will accompany the event with swinging music throughout the day, and excitement is assured when the "Goasslschnöller" start cracking their whips.
We wish everyone a lot of fun!