Horse Racing and Horseback Riding
The relationship between Merano and horses has deep roots. The ultimate expression of this relationship is the racetrack, which is emblematic of the city. The races are a real thrill; so is exploring Merano’s environs from the saddle of a horse – albeit a different type of thrill.
The Maia Racetrack
A green jewel in the heart of the city, the Maia Racetrack hosts the main event on the Italian calendar of the most spectacular of all equestrian sports: the steeplechase. This event is considered to be the “La Scala” of Italian steeplechase: here, the best Italian jumpers face down those representing different European countries.
The racing season normally runs from May to October. The most important event is the Forst Merano Grand Prix, which is held on the last Sunday of September. Maia Racetrack is the focal point of the international equestrian scene during the event.
The racetrack, which is situated in Maia Bassa (Untermais), was built around the end of the nineteenth century; the first races took place in 1900. In the thirties, a decision was made to upgrade and enhance the racetrack and connect the races with the national lottery. The construction of the new facility, a shining example of rationalist architecture, was completed in record time and opened in 1935.
Exploring on horseback is to experience of South Tyrol from a different perspective. It’s a wonderful way to get close to nature. The area around Merano offers numerous options for horseback riding that are suitable for experienced riders and novices alike. The most prevalent breed of horse here is the Haflinger: it has a golden mane and a docile nature, making it very popular with children. The Haflinger horse originates in this area, particularly in Val Venosta (Vinschgau) Valley; it takes its name from the village of Avelengo (German: Hafling), just above Merano.
Here is a list of options for riding through forests and across meadows and alpine pastures:
• Sulfnerhof Stables in Avelengo (Hafling)
(Tel. 0473 279 424)
• Quellenhof in San Martino in Val Passiria (Passeiertal) Valley
(Tel. 0473 645474)
• Stroblhof in San Leonardo in Passiria (St. Leonhard im Passeiertal
(Tel. 0473 656 128)
• Steinerhof in Plan in Val Passiria
(Tel. 0473 646741-349 4047460)
• Sandhof in San Leonardo in Passiria
(Tel. 656 272 0473 or 338 2798365)
• Theistadl Stables in Val d’Ultimo (Ultental)
(Tel. 0473 799 011)
• Paur Stables in Avelengo
(Tel. 348 7653739)
• Tschaufen Stables in Meltina
(Tel. 0471 668 235)
• Maso Corto Stables in Val Senales (Schnalstal) Valley
(Tel. 340 8527476)
• Nalles (Nals) Stables
(Tel. 348 2307992)
Horse-drawn carriage rides are also a good way to see the city. Next to the racetrack, you’ll find the Merano Riding Centre: this facility is cutting edge and a little gem of rare beauty.