Luxury hotels, spa resorts and amusement parks? These are the things you definitely won’t find in Navistal Valley. It’s Tirol’s beautiful little secret. A gorgeous remote area, tucked deep in rugged mountains, it provides visitors with unmatched solitude, a multitude of recreational opportunities as well as great local food.
One name says it all in Navistal Valley. Peer. It seems to be the most popular surname here. Thus it comes as no surprise that an idyllic Alpine pasture hut high up in the mountains is named ‘Peer Alm’. Its busy owner’s name is Karl – you guessed it – Peer.
The old age pensioner is cheesemaker, pig breeder, experimental masterword-chocolate maker and lives in a historic farmhouse in Navis. As usual in Tirol, the picture-postcard farmstead also comprises an Alpine pasture hut for summer cattle grazing. Since five years, Karl Peer has let his hut to Maria Keuschnigg, a true innkeeper and farm-to-table cook. A story of success.
True Farm to Table Cookery
“My menu varies day by day. I cook with what is available. If the hunters give me venison, venison is on the menu. If the farmer next door has fresh lamb meat, lamb is on the menu,” explains Maria Keuschnigg. Founded on the essence of farm-to-table cuisine, Maria loves to make original Tirolean dishes that aren’t usually on the menu, such as Buchteln or Blattln with sauerkraut.
“What I like most is when old farmer’s wives who have been cooking for extended family all their life come to eat my dishes. I feel very honored when they tell me afterwards that they liked my food,” says Maria. Spread by word of mouth, her super juicy cheese dumplings have reached local fame. Maria’s little secret: “Use lots of cheese!”
Placid Natural Beauty
Maria Keuschnigg was born in Tirol’s Unterland Region and has had many a career change. Her favorite place is the mountains. “I like Innsbruck or London. But what I like most are people who aren’t that cool,” laughs the hut keeper.
She is particularly drawn to Navistal Valley’s remoteness. Tucked away towards the Tux Alps, the isolated valley’s placid beauty has verdant meadows curving down from the high peaks on either side of the valley. The sunny side is dotted with homes, while the other side of the valley is carpeted in forest. The little community has dispersed settlements, homes and separate farmsteads. The center is made up of just a church, a village inn and a tiny shop that closes down for lunch each day. The newest addition to the infrastructure is an e-bike rental shop. This definitely is a place where life does not move pretty fast.
A Remote Alpine Playground
Blissfully not featured in guidebooks, this pristine valley is a remote, Alpine wilderness area close to Tirol’s capital Innsbruck. The further into the valley you drive, the more remote it becomes. Navistal Valley is a welcome playground for the outdoorsy residents of Innsbruck. To those in the know, the “Navis Meadows Ride” is a popular ride (and also a walk). Peer Alm is one of five Alpine pasture huts along this gorgeous loop.
A pleasant forested road leads you through beautiful old-growth forest and is home to vivid greenery speckled with brilliant wildflowers. The 45-minute climb up the moderate grade is suitable for families and you are rewarded with a high view of Navistal Valley and close-ups of Serles, mighty matron of the Stubai Alps. And up on Peer Alm, you can refuel over Maria Keuschnigg’s mouthwatering local delicacies, which are usually only served by a farmer’s wife on a Tirolean farm.
Photo Credits: Frank Bauer