THE ill-famed Kuntersweg is a narrow dangerous cart-way winding through a deep valley, overtopped on both sides by huge and lofty mountains, and ending in the post route from Innsbruck to Botzen.
Soon after leaving this route and entering into the aforesaid track, the traveller arrives at a spot where the valley is more narrow than elsewhere, and there he beholds high above him a hole pierced through a bare rock which is known under the name of “Teufelsloch,” or devil’s hole. Beneath this hole are hanging several crucifixes and statues of saints in remembrance of the many accidents which have taken place on that spot--perhaps, also, as a consolation to the friends of the lost ones and an exhortation to prayer.
One day a carter drove by that spot, and as the weather happened to be very bad and the road swampy and soft from the long rain, the wheels of his cart stuck fast in the ground. It was in vain that he whipped his horses and tried all means in his power to get out of the mud. In this desperate position he summoned the devil to his assistance, using the most fearful oaths, and, lo! all at once there appeared before him a gentleman clad in rich green clothes, with high boots, and offered his services. The carter, who at first was almost terrified at this unexpected apparition, said at last, “Well, I accept your offer.”
“But not for nothing,” answered the stranger. “I shall help you only under the condition that you will give me a piece of your body.” To which, after a short reflection, the carter agreed.
The green stranger had scarcely muttered a few incomprehensible words between his teeth when the cart moved by some invisible power from the spot, and when directly afterwards the carter was asked for the promised reward, he cut off a piece of his long finger nails and handed it over to his deliverer. Thus cheated, the devil full of wrath changed his form and, as a monstrous fiery lizard hissing with savage anger, and enveloped in sheets of lightning, and with roars of thunder, rushed through the bare rock above, so that all the mountains round about shook. And this hole has ever since been called the Teufelsloch.
It is no doubt for the purpose of expelling from this spot all diabolical effects, that in course of time those pious images have been set up at the foot of the rock; and most probably the road received from the hellish “Kunter,” or apparition, which the carter met there, the name of “Kuntersweg.”