The Ridnaun Valley , also simply called Ridnaun , is an 18 kilometer long side valley of the Wipptal branching off in a north-westerly direction , into which it flows near Sterzing . It is drained by the Ridnauner Bach , the settlements in the valley form the Ridnaun , Mareit , Telfes and Gasteig fractions of the municipality of Ratschings in South Tyrol ( Italy ). The two most important side valleys are the Ratschingstal and the Jaufental , both of which start in the entrance area of the Ridnaun Valley and brush towards the southwest.
The Ridnaun Valley is surrounded by mountains of the Stubai Alps . At the western end of the valley lies the Schneeberg , known for its 900-year mining history and as one of the highest located mines in Europe: The center of ore mining, St. Martin am Schneeberg on the other side of the Schneebergscharte already in the neighboring Passeier Valley , was the highest permanent settlement at the time of operation of the Alps and can now be easily hiked from the Schneeberghütte, a refuge in the former management building of the kuk mine administration on the Schneeberg. In the district of Maiern ( ), at the upper end of the Ridnaun Valley, the ore was processed and made ready for onward transport towards Sterzing. Mining ceased in 1978 due to a lack of profitability , and the mine finally closed in 1985. Since 1995 the South Tyrolean Mining Museum has been commemorating ore mining on the Schneeberg with museum tunnels and day tours to the original Schneeberg tunnels.
Probably the best-known personality from the Ridnaun Valley was Maria Fassnauer , who became known throughout Europe as the giantess of Tyrol at the end of the 19th century . She was around 2.20 m tall and was considered the tallest woman in the world until her death in 1917.