South Tyrol: increasingly eco-sustainable!

South Tyrol: increasingly eco-sustainable!

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South Tyrol ed eco-sustainability they are an increasingly close combination thanks to the foresight of the population and local entrepreneurs who have long understood the importance of preserving their territory and the quality of their products.

In South Tyrol the new technologies are used at the service of the environment and we are not afraid to invest in important projects, knowing full well that the returns at the level of "common good" but also at the level of "monetary income" will amply compensate for the efforts made.

Over the past few days, I have therefore taken pleasure in the invitation of IDM Südtirol-Alto Adige (Innovation, Development and Marketing Sudtirolo - Alto Adige) to spend 3 days in South Tyrol to personally discover some of the excellences in the field ofeco-sustainability.

Eco-sustainable mobility in South Tyrol

The good example in the field of eco-sustainable mobility it also comes from IDM itself which uses hydrogen-powered cars for the movements of its staff, to be precise 10 carsHyundai ix35 Fuel Cell.

In my living room I tried to drive one of these cars and I was definitely impressed by the absolute silence and by an engine capable of guaranteeing a good starting point and an excellent driving experience. All a zero emissions as the exhaust pipe emits only water vapor!

The hydrogen-powered Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell that I tested in the past few days

L'autonomy of the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell powered by hydrogen is approx 500 Km and at the moment thethe only active refueling station in Italy it is found at Bolzano.

To see the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell in action I propose this official video of the parent company:

L'hydrogen used as fuel is produced through an electrolysis process using entirely energy from renewable sources and stored in the form of gas.

The refueling station located near the Bolzano Sud exit, at the "Firmian" car park, is managed by the H2 South Tyrol company, and in addition to refueling the cars made available to local companies through rental, it is also available for “external” cars that can be refueled upon telephone booking and identification (opening hours: Monday to Friday, from 8 to 19). The duration of the refueling is 3 minutes in the case of cars and 15-20 minutes in the case of busses.

Eco-sustainable energy in South Tyrol

The advancement of technology is making plants more efficient for generate clean energy taking advantage of the Sun and the wind but in Italy there the first clean source of energy is water, the potential of which is exploited through hydroelectric power plants.

To protect the environment and the inhabitants, however, the method of construction of hydroelectric plants is of fundamental importance, which will have to consider elements such as the impact on the landscape, the cost-effectiveness of operation and compliance with all safety regulations.

The new Rio di Riva hydroelectric power plant is a virtuous example that considered all these aspects, as I was able to appreciate during my visit who had an exceptional guide, the Mr. Toni Innerhofer, president of TEWAG Azienda Elettrica Campo Tures SpA, a consortium company in charge of the operation of the power plant, but above all the person who dedicated a large part of his vision to the realization of this project, which required to overcome all the obstacles of bureaucracy in the course of about 20 years!

Toni Innehofer in front of the control monitor of the Rio di Riva power plant, Campo Tures

Once all the approvals had been received, the new Rio di Riva power plant was built in 18 months for an investment of approximately 20 million euros, including all the environmental compensation and integration works.

Today the plant produces an annual average of 64 million kWh with an average nominal power of 8,841.95 kW and an efficient power of 18,000 kW.

Among the aspects of the plant that struck me most, I would like to point out the complete automation of the system: the power plant produces energy in a totally automated way, without requiring the presence of personnel on site. Monitoring is carried out remotely with a system that signals any malfunctions.

There Rio Riva power station is perfectly integrated into the environment: the pipes that convey the water to the plant are completely underground and the plant building looks like this:

Rio Riva hydroelectric power plant

complete with a roof covered with grass that makes it almost invisible from above.

Alongside the new building it was decided to keep the old building as well, which will be transformed into a museum. The history of the plant is in fact very interesting also as regards the projects proposed over the years which fortunately were rejected by the local population as they involved the construction of a seasonal reservoir with the consequent need to transfer part of the resident population and to deface the landscape.

Today instead the view that we can enjoy from Riva di Tures it is still the one you can see in the photo I took a few days ago and which I used as the opening image of this article: a paradise that speaks for itself! :-)

A few hundred meters from the Rio Riva hydroelectric power station I also had the opportunity to visit the structure that houses the two large drinking water tanks dedicated to serving the Municipality of Campo Tures, each rectangular in shape with a 20 x 10 meter plant.

In this period, only one of the two large cisterns was full while the other was in a cleaning phase, waiting to be refilled for the summer months when the influx of a large number of tourists increases the need for drinking water.

The two large tanks for storing drinking water in the municipality of Campo Tures

Again, the 3-storey building is almost completely underground, minimizing the impact on the surrounding environment.

The level of clarity of the water is impressive, making it almost "invisible" when looking at the full tank from above!

Ecotourism in South Tyrol: trekking to the Riva di Tures waterfalls

A few kilometers away I could not miss the opportunity to go and see the spectacle of the Riva di Tures waterfalls: these are three waterfalls that can be admired from a path immersed in the woods and well marked, also suitable for those who are not particularly trained.

Here is one of the "selfies" I took ... :-)

Riva di Tures waterfalls

Eco-sustainable tourism in South Tyrol

The sustainability of a region's tourism offer cannot be separated from the eco-sustainability of the hotels and in my stay I got to know the managers of three decidedly virtuous structures:Drumlerhof hotel and the Designhotel Feldmilla, in Campo Tures and the Bio Vitalhotel Theiner's Garten in Gargazzone.

To properly present all the characteristics and strengths of these structures, I would need an article dedicated to each of them but I will try to summarize below the points that most impressed me.

Stefan Fauster, owner of theDrumlerhof hotel he was born in a small farm in Signat on the Renon where his parents taught him to always use resources wisely. And this same attention to avoiding any waste and working ethically can be found in every aspect of your hotel.

The work of Stefan and his family is inspired by the principles ofeconomy of the common good, based on three core values: human dignity, environmental sustainability and social justice.

And so each member of the family collects fair compensation from the hotel business and reinvests everything else in the pursuit of the three core values: employees receive a fair salary, suppliers are selected on the basis of attention to product quality and sustainability of the entire production cycle, the dishes offered are created with local products, mostly at zero km, making sure that the animals from which the foods are derived have been able to lead a dignified life in the midst of nature and fed with natural foods.

A further initiative of Stefan is the "balance of the common good", created with the support of the "Terra Institute", in which all the virtuous practices actually implemented at the Drumlerhof are certified.

The "balance of the common good"Is divided into one matrix that relates 5 key values:

1) Dignity of the human being

2) Solidarity

3) Eco-sustainability

4) Social equity

5) Democratic co-management & transparency

with i different stakeholders like:

1) Suppliers

2) Lenders

3) Employees and owners

4) Products and partner companies

5) Social context (population, future generations and nature on a global level)

assigning a score and a percentage score to each correspondence.

Finally, a series of negative criteria relating to values ​​and stakeholders that determine a decrease in the score were identified.

This creates a document that highlights strengths and weaknesses on which you can focus your efforts.

More information on this model can be found on the website

In addition to the practices that are fortunately becoming more and more common regardingseparate waste collection and of recycling, Stefan is also careful to prevent the unnecessary creation of waste and waste by also using parts of food that are not easy to cook but which can give equally good quality and taste results.

Most of the ingredients of the dishes offered at the Drumlerhof, in particular fruit and vegetables, come from the farm owned in Signato, on the Renon plateau, where Stefan was born. The eggs come from a farm located a few hundred meters away and where the hens grow free in open meadows.

As for the suites and rooms, wood is the dominant natural element. To ensure the relaxation of guests, on the third floor there is a SPA with sauna, bio sauna, relaxation room and massage rooms; on the fourth floor, on the roof, it is possible to immerse yourself in a whirlpool tub with spectacular views of the surrounding woods and the castle of Campo Tures.

Hotel Drumlerhof: one of the rooms, Stefan's family, the whirlpool tub with mountain views and a dish of local cuisine

The Designhotel Feldmilla of Campo Tures is the South Tyrol's first climate-neutral hotel. This prestigious result was achieved by the Leimegger family, which manages the hotel, through a process that began in 2011, in collaboration with the environmental protection agency "climate partner"Of Monaco. The first step was to calculate the carbon footprint of the hotel, to identify the most critical areas on which to intervene. Various areas of the hotel were thus analyzed: energy production, food purchase cycle, also with regard to suppliers, consumables and the ecological footprint of collaborators and owners.

The designhotel Feldmilla

Among the excellences of Feldmilla in the energy field, a particularly important item is that relating to the generation of energy through its own hydroelectric power plant and the generation of the energy necessary for heating thanks to the connection to thebiomass plant of the municipality of Campo Tures. In this way most of the emissions produced are neutralized directly. For the remainder, Feldmilla has undertaken to neutralize them through the participation in a climate project in Guatemala.

The Feldmilla has implemented measures to ensure high air quality even inside its rooms: to achieve this goal, the Leimegger family turned to "Clean air forum", An association that promoteseco-sustainable construction with a declared goal: to detect less than one milligram per cubic meter (<1 mg / m3) of volatile organic compounds in a hotel room.

Even the Designhotel Feldmilla, like the Drumlerhof, every year produces the balance of the common good which I discussed above.

The Feldmilla offers its guests wellness treatments of various types that can relax in the swimming pool, saunas and relaxation areas with hay and stone pine beds as well as with massages offered using only organic products.

Beds with hay mattresses at Feldmilla

The Bio Vitalhotel theiner's garten it is instead located in Gargazzone, about 30 km from Bolzano and is another excellence of eco-sustainability in South Tyrol, so much so that it has received the quality seal ClimaHotel, assigned on the basis of three pillars of sustainability: Ecology, Economy and Socio-cultural aspects.

Among the strengths of the Theiner's Garten it is important to report the Berghof, the Garden of Nature, the certified farm Demeterhandled by Ingo Theiner and by the previous three generations of his family, based on the principles of biodynamic agriculture.

This is how the delicious fruit and different types of vegetables offered to the guests of theiner's come from the Berghof. Eight varieties of apples as well as apricots and plums are grown in the Bergerhof's orchards. When the fruits are ripe they can be picked and tasted by guests directly from the tree! Towards the end of July the peaches and the first apples ripen. The last apples can be harvested until the last weeks of October.

Stefan Hütter, marketing manager of theiner's gartner then told me about some of the other excellences of the structure, among which the construction system used for the front wall of the hotel and for the walls of the rooms stands out: this is the patented system Soligno, which allows you to build wooden walls without using glues and iron compounds.

A special clay coating was used for the plaster of the walls, which allows the humidity in the rooms to be optimally adjusted.

The constant goal was to aim for the "top" for each element and so we thought of a particular soundproofing system for the rooms so as to eliminate any noise and ensure an ideal sleep.

Upon entering one of the theiner's rooms you will notice theabsence of cables and theabsence of televisions (however available on request): all choices made for reduce also electromagnetic pollution. For the same reason, the Internet connection is available from the rooms via cable but not via wi-fi.

View from my room in Theiner's Garten

For the well-being of its guests the theiner's offers a swimming pool (half indoor and half outdoor!) built in stainless steel, so as to avoid sealing materials containing PVC, a sauna, a bio sauna, reaction tanks and relaxation rooms.

A healthy life cannot ignore physical activity and movement and so theiner's offers its guests a wide choice of sports activities: gym, yoga classes, guided trekking and bicycles for hire.

By bike in Gargazzone, South Tyrol

As you have probably already deduced from the photo above, in recent days I opted for a nice bike ride so that I could visit another very interesting structure in the Naturbad - natural swimming pool of Gargazzonepassing by the beautiful apple orchards of the area (I promise that the photo only shows the gesture of plucking but I did not steal anything! :-)

The natural pool of Gargazzone is an ecosystem very similar to a natural lake intended for the relaxation of residents and tourists.

There water cleaning is the result of the combination of aquatic plants, phytoplankton and zooplankton, exchange of pond water through plant filters and manual or mechanical care and maintenance interventions. No chemical disinfectants or chlorine It is used.

The pond is home to several types of dragonflies that have been chosen as the property's logo as well as frogs and beautiful aquatic plants.

The day ticket costs 6.5 Euros for adults and 3 Euros for children up to 13 years. On your birthday you can enter for free!

The Naturbad includes a beach volleyball court, a bar - restaurant and two football pitches.

For more information on the natural pool of Gargazzone you can visit the official site

La Naturbad - natural swimming pool of Gargazzone

My trip to South Tyrol ended with a visit to the natural swimming pool in Gargazzone: to return to Milan, of course, in the name of sustainable mobility, I used the train! :-)

You might also be interested in the interview "South Tyrol awarded at the International Forum" and the story of mineTrekking to the Fanes Senes Braies Natural Park.

Video: What Is the Most Sustainable City in the World? (January 2023).