From these ancient settlement and cult sites emanates a special, magical atmosphere. Many legends and myths revolve around these mysterious places:
The Durster Witch
At the Dursterhof on Sonnenberg, around 1840, lived a widowed farmer's wife who was a witch (so it is said). She was skilled in preparing various magic potions and mastered many magic arts. Since her husband died suddenly shortly after their wedding, the marriage remained childless. The cause of the young husband's death, who had always been healthy, could never be determined. Therefore, it was suspected that the woman had "sent her spouse to the afterlife". However, the authorities could never prove anything against her, and so she remained undisturbed. It was only known about this woman that she came from Nonsberg and that she came from poor circumstances. Now she was the sole owner and managed the Dursterhof with two farmhands and a maid. Since she knew little about agriculture, she was forced to treat her servants well and pay them decently. Thus, they felt comfortable on the farm and worked diligently and reliably in the house, stable, and field. At certain times, especially on Thursdays, the farmer's wife was not at home. She explained her absence by saying she had important things to do. In reality, she stayed with the witches at the witches' place, at the "Stuaner – Geada – Hut" on the "Little Mountain". There, the witches of the area met and engaged in all sorts of mischief.
The Durster Witch Sinks the Giggelberg House Spring
At that time, there was a great water shortage at the Dursterhof, as the only spring in the "Hausries" provided very little water; at times it almost dried up completely. The farm name "Durster" is derived from this water shortage. For a long time, the Dursterin pondered where she could get more water. A possible solution was the productive Giggelberg house spring, which she had long envied her neighbor. However, she did not know how to "tap" this spring. Then a witch friend, whom she told about her water problem, advised her to sink the delicious water with mercury. The water would then find a new underground vein and feed the "Hausries spring" further down. The Dursterhof would then have water in abundance. The farmer's wife liked this diabolical plan, and she immediately set about implementing it. She obtained the required mercury from a witch master in Meran, sneaked to the Giggelberg spring at night, and poured the liquid heavy metal into the water. The Dursterin's plan actually worked, as the next day the Giggelberg water bubbled up at the "Hausries spring". The water shortage at the Dursterhof was a thing of the past. The name of the farm, reminiscent of this time, has remained to this day.
The giggelberg farm without water
With horror, the residents of Giggelberg discovered that their house spring suddenly stopped delivering a drop of water overnight. The drying up of the house water had fatal consequences for their farm. They immediately suspected the Durster Witch as the perpetrator, but could not prove anything against her. The Giggelbergers had to quickly search for a new source of water. The only option was to lay a water pipeline made of wooden channels to the "Brünn" in the Schindeltal. The source there, which still supplies the Giggelberg farm with drinking water to this day, is located east of the "Orenalm" at about 2,000 m above sea level. The water of the "Brünnl spring" was only enough to supply humans and cattle, but not for irrigating meadows and fields. The mill could no longer be operated either. It was therefore abandoned and fell into disrepair. This meant that the owners of the Giggelberg and Rammwald farms jointly built a mill on the banks of the Zielbach, which was used by both farms until recent times. Due to the "water theft" by the Dursterin, the Giggelbergers now suffered from water scarcity. In 1870, when the Sonnenberg farmers built the Zielerwaal in an exemplary community effort, the water shortage on Giggelberg was also solved. The said Waal has since channeled the water of the Schrambach to the farms on Sonnenberg.
The Durster Witch makes butter from "Küblmilch"
Once, a tailor from Partschins was working at the Dursterhof. When he secretly watched the farmer's wife churning butter, he discovered that she applied a kind of ointment to the stirring stick during the second stirring. This allowed her to make butter from the "Küblmilch" (buttermilk) again. Thinking of his own profit, the tailor stole a portion of the ointment from the box, took it home, and secretly applied it to the stirring stick of his butter barrel. The tailor's wife then, also from buttermilk, produced a large amount of butter without knowing how it happened. The following night, the devil knocked on the window and asked the tailor to "sign" a special book. The puzzled man pondered for a while and then wrote the name of Jesus. Now the devil had lost power over the book and had to leave it behind. When the tailor leafed through the devil's book, he also discovered the signature of the Durster farmer's wife, from whom he had stolen the devil's ointment. The tailor brought the book to the priest, who lit a fire from consecrated palm branches and burned it in it.
The Hazel witch
At a farm in Partschins, a witch was in service who couldn't stand the shepherd boy. Sometimes she slapped him so hard that his whole head rang, other times she maltreated him in other ways. The farmer's wife said nothing about it because the maid was held in high esteem by her, as the cows gave so much milk as never before, and there was an abundance of butter and cheese. On a Thursday, the maid had to go with the shepherd boy to Sonnenberg to strip leaves. When they were at the bushes, she said to the boy, "Now pick leaves so that both baskets are full, for I have to go further up the mountain to look for hazelnuts! Work quickly and don't look after me! If both baskets are not full when I come back, I will beat you so that you'll feel it on the Last Day!" She left, and the whole thing seemed suspicious to the boy. When he thought she was already a distance away, he followed her - and soon saw many women dancing and jumping on a flat mountain meadow. But soon they started to argue, grabbed each other by the hair, and fought until they tore the cattle maid apart. Then the dance began anew. However, some witches soon gathered the bones of the dead and arranged them in order. Only one they could no longer find. After a long fruitless search, a woman broke a twig from a hazel bush and placed it instead of the missing leg bone under various spells. Immediately, the torn woman came to life and jumped up. "Now you are whole again," said the old woman, "until someone calls you 'Hazel Witch'. But then the spell is gone and you will fall apart into many pieces as before." The boy noted this and sneaked back to his work. She came after and found the baskets not yet full. Then she started to curse and scold and beat the boy. "Leave me alone, otherwise I'll help you," he threatened. But in vain - she only maltreated him more. Finally, he called out, "You are the Hazel Witch!" - and she immediately fell apart. The boy was now freed from the witch, but the farmer's wife was displeased with the whole story, as milk and butter decreased and the whole village became known that she had kept a witch in service.
The Stuaner Geada witch
On the Partschinser Legend Trail, a few minutes' walk above the Partschinser Waalweg, is the legendary Stuanergeadahütte. It is a dwelling cave used by primitive people in prehistoric times. Inside the cave, the fireplace with an open smoke outlet is still recognizable. Once, the Stuaner Geada (Gertraud from the Steinerhof in Tabland), an evil witch, lived in this cave, and many stories are told about her in Partschins. Once she brewed a terrible thunderstorm that almost destroyed the village and the church of St. Helena in Töll, while above the Greiterhof the sun shone brightly from the sky. The witch fed on worms, mice, and rats, which she knew how to lure with a special little rhyme. She was also said to know the secret names of the animals. In fine weather, she sat on the large stone, called Geada Zopfnstuan, which covers the cave, and spun the sheep's wool into huge balls with her spinning wheel. The devil is said to have kept her amusing company. On the top of the stone, you can still clearly see the witch's seat, the notches of the spinning wheel, and even the imprint of the devil's fiery hand burned into the stone. Behind the Stuanergeadahütte is the witches' place, where the witches once gathered and wreaked havoc.
The Devil's Plate
A few minutes' walk above the Stuanergeadahütte, a bit off the beaten path from the Legend Trail, is the Devil's Plate. On this small stone slab, there are two women's footprints and six pairs of goat footprints visible. Legend has it that the Devil, who is known to have a goat's foot, once carried a wayward girl from the Schnalstal Valley in flight and rested here. On his way to hell, he is said to have combed the beautiful maiden's long blonde hair. The imprints of the scorching hot claws of the infernal being and the damned Schnalserin have left their traces clearly visible.
The Last Nörggele
(Nörggelen were dwarf-like beings with thick heads, long beards, and cunning little eyes) The last Nörggele remembered in the Vinschgau Valley was employed by a farmer on the Partschinser Sonnenberg, where it grazed the small livestock. This little man was much kinder than the previously described dwarfs and lacked their malice and wickedness. It was customary for the shepherd to take his lunch to the pasture. Since the Nörggele never appeared at the farm, the farmers tied the food to a goat's horns to carry it out to the pasture. When the farmer noticed how the little shepherd's clothes, after long, faithful service, hung tattered on his body, he tied a bundle of new clothes to the goat's horns and sent it out to the Norgg. When the Nörggele saw the animal coming, he began to cry and howl loudly, ran back and forth in despair, wringing his hands, and lamented:
"I am so old, I know the Moarspitze, small like a kid,
and the Moarwies nine times meadow and nine times forest.
Now the farmers have paid me,
and now I must leave, to another place."
He spoke and ran away, never to be seen again.
The Legend of the Castle on the Salten
Once, a magnificent castle stood on the Salten in Partschins. It was inhabited by Knight Werdomer, who had a bad reputation and led a debauched life. He oppressed and tortured his subordinates, and his wife Gundisand was very unhappy.
Two years after the wedding of Knight Werdomer and Gundisand, in 1328 according to legend, the "Wild Lake behind Ginggl" broke out and destroyed the castle along with the surrounding houses. Half of the village of Partschins, which was celebrating the church festival night (Peter and Paul), was said to be buried under the floods.
During a hike along the Partschinser Legend Trail today, one can find the so-called Saltenstein. Beneath this massive stone is said to be the bell of the former castle chapel. Every 100 years on Peter and Paul, June 29th, the bell is supposed to ring. Pious people should be able to lift the bell with the help of consecrated objects and thus release the soul of poor Gundisand.
Sacrifice of Love
A young count from Castle Kastelbell (Val Venosta valley) loved the graceful daughter of the tollkeeper at Töll. They were deeply in love with each other. However, Knight Kosmas from Castle Vorst had also long had his eye on the beautiful girl. He learned of their love at a feast and then sought a way to ruin the lovers.
On a beautiful, mild autumn day, the young count rode out on a pheasant hunt through the meadows of Rabland. After sending his servant back to the ancestral castle with the game in the evening, he mounted his horse and rode down to his sweetheart at Töll with the two most beautiful pheasants. His rival, Knight Kosmas, had secretly stayed close by and now followed him inconspicuously on a side path. Seeing the two lovers together in front of the tollkeeper's inn, he furiously pulled down his crossbow and aimed at his opponent. The brave girl quickly stepped in front of her beloved and took the deadly arrow in her body. She gave her beloved one last loving look and then collapsed lifeless to the ground with a sigh. The young count, shocked to death, immediately drew his sword and plunged it into the cowardly murderer's chest. The beloved deceased was taken to Kastelbell and buried in the count's tomb. The young knight, inconsolable over his immeasurable loss, soon left his ancestral castle and retreated into the quiet of the Allerengelberg Carthusian monastery in Schnals.
The Königshof Dairy Maid
A long time ago, a young, pretty dairy maid lived on the Königshofalm in Zieltal. She caught the eye of many a shepherd and hunter. It was the time of the rise of alpinism, and many a dashing mountaineer strayed into this lonely area. The young men could not resist the charm of the dairy maid, and a romantic tryst on the Königshofalm was not without consequences. There was a child, and the dairy maid gave birth. She placed the newborn in a basket and sent the young shepherd boy down to Partschins to the priest to have it baptized. The strict parish priest immediately asked who the father of the child was - he needed to know, otherwise he could not baptize it. The boy could not provide this information, so he had to climb the long way back up to the Königsalm with the child.
He relayed the surprised dairy maid the priest's demand. She then told the shepherd boy, "Go down to the priest again with the child and tell him that its father is the 'German and Austrian Alpine Club'." Once again, the faithful boy made his way down to the valley to the priest. When he heard of the paternity of the German and Austrian Alpine Club, he was satisfied and administered the sacrament of baptism to the "Königshof-Seppele", as it was later commonly called.
Source: Village Book by Ewald Lassnig