Here, somewhere, he stood and listened. And he only breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the bell ringing. Then he knew it was all right.
Waalwege are the traditional hiking paths leading along the old waterways in South Tyrol. In former times there was the Waaler, a man responsible for maintaining the waterway (the Waal), and for him the Waalweg trails were built alongside the waterways. Today, these serve as popular hiking trails known as the Waalwege. The most extended one is the Waalweg of Marlengo/Marling – an easy path suitable for families, where hikers say hello to one another.
Waalwege have been around since the 12th century. They are unique to South Tyrol, because they can only be found only around Merano/Meran and the Vinschgau Valley. The Waale were built as an ancient irrigation system, diverting water from the mountains down to more arid areas, thereby irrigating the fields.
Today, the Waalwege are especially popular walking trails, because they have little difference in height and offer wonderful views of the surrounding villages and mountains. They are situated at medium height and can be walked almost year round. From April to November, water is still transported, and only in the cold months does the Waal remain empty. A trip to the Marlinger Waalweg is especially worthwhile in spring, when the cherry trees and apple trees are in bloom, or in autumn when the forests and vineyards glow with many vibrant colors. Walking the entire route of the Marlinger Waalweg takes about three hours.
But back to the Waaler
: after a storm, he needed to free the thin canals from branches and stones, and this is still the case today. He has to ensure that all locks remain open to prevent flooding. Small bells can be heard ringing, operated by a water wheel and a hammer, which constantly beats against the bell after reaching a certain water level.