San Vigilio di Marebbe
San Vigilio is located at 1201 metres upon sea level and is surrounded by mountains and pine woods. The village boasts a rich tourism tradition dating back to the end of the 1800s. Today, it disposes of 4,500 guest beds and of numerous accommodation, recreation and service facilities. In the centre and in the immediate vicinities of San Vigilio, there are numberless points of interest. The most impressive is certainly the village square with it magnificent church built in baroque style with gothic steeple.
The church, dedicated to the Holy Vigilius, was built in 1789. The fresco paintings in the inner domes are the artwork of master Mattheus Guenther, at his time director of the Augustan Academy.
A very interesting natural monument is to be found directly in front of the church: the majestic archaic lime tree growing in the very corner of the village square which gives testimony of hundreds of years of history. Many centuries ago, in the shade of its crown, the tribunal used to hold its annual sessions. The family patriarchs met to pronounce a sentence against the misdeeds of the local people. More than one fate was decided under the old lime tree, which has been set under protection as natural monument.
While most of the farms of San Vigilio have developed into modern agricultural enterprises, in some corners of the country we can still find some structures which remind us of the ancient times. The rural homes of Plazores and Taibun date back to the times around the middle of the last millennium and are considered to be the eldest buildings of the whole area. Marebbe was a feudal tenure claimed both by the Benedictine Monastery of Castelbadia and by the Bishop of Bressanone. The tenure was ruled by noble families such as the Rost of Ras. Their castle/fortified home has turned into a quite inconspicuous building but is still standing there to give testimony of the ancient times.
Only few kilometres from San Vigilio we find the little mountain village La Pli/Pieve. Here life is still very calm and peaceful, since traffic hardly reaches the settlement. Pieve is the cradle of Ladin culture and boasts the first church mentioned in written documents. It was also the first see of the Val Badia deanery. Nowadays Pieve is still ruled by agriculture. The local inhabitants are strongly attached to their native soil and homes and hold firmly to the famous “Viles”, a form of rural settlement of Rhaetic origin. The houses are arrayed in ranges or circles and form little autonomous hamlets with private and collective infrastructures. Characteristic of these settlements are the houses build half in stone and half in timber and the separated barns. The tourism association of San Vigilio organizes every week guided excursions to these pearls of Ladin culture.
On the opposite valley side of Val Badia, there is Rina, also part of the municipality of San Vigilio. Located on the slopes of the Pütia, Rina is the ideal destination for all those who are looking for peaceful mountain meadows, long walks and … mushrooms!
The main attraction for all visitors of San Vigilio is certainly the Nature Park Fanes-Senes-Braies, site of the Unesco World Natural Heritage. Established in 1982, the park is doubtless the very treasure of Marebbe with its endless alpine pastures, majestic peaks, lakes, rivers, flowers and animals, mountain refuges and much more. Starting from Pederü, hikers reach in 1-2 hours walking the most famous refuges of Fodara Vedla, Senes, Munt de Senes and also the refuges in the Fanes area: Rifugio Lavarella and Rifugio Fanes. On their way, hikers will meet lots of cattle grazing on the alpine pastures and, if they are lucky, they may also catch sight of some marmot, some chamois or even some ibex. The luckiest could even see an eagle patrolling the area for prey. All paths are well marked and sign-posted, which makes it easy for hikers to get safely from one place of the nature park to the next. Experienced hikers may venture up the 3,000 metres of the mountain peaks Lavarella, Conturines and Cima Dieci. And for those who prefer sweating little and seeing much, there is the new Visitor Centre of the Nature Park in San Vigilio. The architectonically interesting and view catching building holds a multi-media museum about the nature park. Games, terrariums, photos, short films and much more guide children as well as adults through the natural wonders of Fanes-Senes-Braies. The exposition includes of course also some archaeological finds from the famous Conturines Cave, where the ancient remains of the cave bears were discovered. The admission to the museum is free.
The area around San Vigilio is a paradise for lovers of waking and hiking. Numberless gravel streets and paths, all well sign-posted and with different levels of difficulty, take walkers along the countryside and invite them to explore nature’s most beautiful and magical places. Maps and route booklets are available at the tourist information office, where you can also book guided theme tours, organized in collaboration with the Nature Park, to learn about flowers, animals, lakes and folk tales. The tour programme is available at the tourist information office of San Vigilio.