Little gem of north-eastern Italy, Trentino Alto Adige will strike you with its wide landscapes full of lakes, great spaces of lawns and valleys, and the magnificent beauty of the Dolomites mountains, Unesco World Heritage. Dolomites’ rocks have a rare peculiarity: they change color during the day from the pink at sunrise to the light red at dusk. Observing this amazing creation of the nature you can definitely feel a very deep sensation and even the famous architect Le Corbusier was astonished by this peculiarity and he described Dolomites as “les plus belles constructions du monde”. Charming Tyrolean cities full of history, art and culture are real treasures to preserve and they complete the beauty of this region. Trentino Alto Adige is a well known skiing, thermal and cultural destination that you can visit every season of the year, with its white mountains during the winter and its luxuriant nature full of vivid colors during the summertime.
Bressanone, between the Middle Ages and Baroque
Lovely city that blends a baroque architecture with a medieval city plan, Bressanone is one of the most ancient cities of the region and a famous vacation destination. Thanks to its central position, Bressanone is the perfect place to start any kind of excursion, either you want to hike the wonderful green valleys, ski or practice snowboard on the white mountains.
The “Portici Maggiori” and “Portici Minori” (High and low cloisters) are a typical feature of Bressanone that surrounds charmingly the center of the medieval city. Walking through the Portici doing some shopping or sitting to have a coffee admiring the typical Tyrolean buildings it’s really a pleasure that you can’t miss.
Walking down the Portici Minori, you can discover many landmark building: the red House Baumgartner with an enclosed gable and cloister with pointed arch; the grey House Taschler with white baroque decorations and eye shape window; and, once you arrive in Piazza della Parrocchia, the House Pfaundler that is a wonderful example of art of the Renaissance with colonnade and grating made of wrought iron. In Piazza Duomo there is the beautiful cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and San Cassiano. It is an impressive medieval building with the façade decorated in neoclassic style between two bell towers with baroque domes. Inside the cathedral you can admire rich decorations of plasters and marbles. During Christmas, for more than a month the square is full of colored lights and stands where you can buy delicious typical pastries and candies, candles, nativity scene made of wood, handmade ceramics , typical Tyrolean sleepers, old musical instruments. The romantic atmosphere of this city will leave you an unforgettable memory.
Merano, in the footsteps of Princess Sissi
The small thermal city of Merano is located few miles away from Vipiteno, and it is very famous for its Mediterranean vegetation that surrounds Passirio river, the elegant coffee shops and boutiques in the beautiful medieval city center full of nice buildings in Tyrolean style. Merano is considered one of the most charming cities of Alto Adige and it has its very own flavor, starting with the language: here you will hear people speak more German than Italian. The cathedral in gothic style was built in XV century and it has a very high bell tower overlooking the medieval center of Merano, and via dei Portici is characterized by low walkways where you can find a lot of nice shops.
The Castel is one of the most interesting things to see in Merano. It is an attractive aristocratic residence that has rooms covered with wood, antique furniture and decorative objects. A little bit outside of the city center you can find the real touristic attraction of Merano, Castel Trauttmansdorff with its gorgeous gardens. The famous empress Elisabeth of Austria, known as Sissi, chose this place as favorite residence to spent her vacation. The empress loved Merano and she used to spent relaxing moments in this castle, situated on top of a hill where she could admire the gardens, the surrounding mountains and the luxuriant nature of Trentino Alto Adige. The rooms of the empress, with its richly decorated ceiling and canvas that date back to 1500, are at the second floor of the castle. The botanic garden surrounding the castle is absolutely worth a visit. It is an enchanting exhibition of hundred types of colored flowers, water plants, palm tree and perfumed herbs.
Bolzano, crossroads of cultures
Main city of Alto Adige, Bolzano is a mix between two cultures: Italian and German, as the city, starting from XIV century, belonged to the Hapsburg dynasty until the Napoleonic period, and became officially Italian after the First World War. Today, signs of this history are in the churches, the squares, the old buildings, the streets. Bolzano is a real artistic, historic gem of this region and it attracts every year many tourists fascinated by its beautiful palaces, wonderful landscapes, the green nature, the coffee shops where you can buy tasty desserts, and the typical gastronomic products such as strudel and canederli. In the historic center the cathedral with the pointed bell tower that is the emblem of the city is worth a visit. The interior has three gothic aisles and in the right one you can see some canvases dated back to 1300.
The altar is a superb example of baroque art. The main street of the historic center is via dei Portici where you can admire houses built in XVI century decorated with baroque plasters. You can not miss out a visit at the famous archeological Museum of Bolzano where inside there is Ozti, the mummy discovered in 1991. It is a well preserved mummy of a man who lived during the Copper age: the news at the time of the discovery spread all around the world. Visiting Bolzano is an enjoyable experience every season of the year, especially during the Christmastime when the typical Christmas market takes place at the beginning of December. You can see a huge white fir tree splendidly decorated in the middle of the main square, you can drink mulled wine or buy some wood sculpture made in Valgardena. From Bolzano you can reach a path called la passeggiata del Guncina where you can find evergreen plants, magnolia, prickly pear, cedar trees and cypress, and you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the town and the surrounding Dolomites. Bolzano area is also characterized by a great number of fabulous castles to visit and it was declared the area with the highest density of castles in Europe.
Skiing with elegance
San Martino di Castrozza For those who are big fans of ski and winter sports San Martino di Castrozza is the perfect place with its many wide sky runs, breathtaking slopes and very efficient sport facilities. It was already popular in the Nineteenth century, and over the years, thanks to some English and German mountain climbers, it became a destination chosen by many tourists for its elegant and scenic feature. San Martino is located close to Pale di San Martino, impressive and beautiful coral mountains that raise imperiously and at sunset change color becoming light pink.
Located next to Adamello Brenta Park with huge glaciers, wild creeks, magnificent water falls and lakes, Madonna di Campiglio is called the gem of Dolomites. Equipped with many ski runs with different levels of difficulty, it has a lot of chair lifts to practice ski and snowboard and it is definitely one of the most famous and important ski resort of the country. Madonna di Campiglio is well-known for the worldly tourism and lifestyle but only few miles away from the city you can discover a peaceful natural oasis made of small lakes, valleys, creeks and mountain dews. It is impossible to remain emotionless observing this location and you will be enchanted by the magnificent landscapes and by the hundreds of winter sports that you can practice.
Legend has it that…
Resia Lake is a splendid artificial lake close to the mountains of Alta Val Venosta. The lake was created in 1950, for this reason the whole town was evacuated and in few days everything disappeared under the cold waters. Today what's left from the destruction of the town, is a bell tower emerging from the water of the lake. This bell tower is one of the most fascinating attraction of this region and the most photographed. According to a local legend, in some days during the winter, you can still hear the bells ringing (they were removed from the bell tower before the evacuation). In the winter when the lake freezes is possible to walk to the the bell tower.
A year in the Dolomites
Madonna di Campiglio: Habsburg Carnival
Habsburg Carnival of Madonna di Campiglio is a wonderful historic commemoration of the ancient court of Habsburg dynasty: you will be the spectator of a splendid costumed parade, fireworks, royal banquets, dance parties in the squares and ski parades with torches through the white woods.
Bolzano: flower feast
Every year, at the beginning of May, Walther Square is full of colors for the Festa dei fiori, a big exposition of flowers, among which roses, tulips, daisies, geranium and many other flowers and plants. There are also musicians and entertainers to gladden kids. This year's event is the 126th and will be held from April 30th to May 1st.
Vipiteno: yogurt days
Perhaps not everyone knows that these areas are also famous for the production of a good yogurt. In the month of July, during the traditional Giornate dello yogurt, organized in collaboration with the Vipiteno yogurt factory, the city offers a varied program with tastings and guided tours to the factory, while restaurants and hotels offer menus featuring yogurt.
Bolzano: festival of the marching bands
In the middle of September Bolzano city center hosts a lot of marching bands that perform their pieces of music dressed with typical Tyrolean costumes. A weekend in spirit of folklore, when you can appreciate some the atmosphere and culture of some of the most authentic traditions of South Tyrol.
Whole region: Christmas markets.
From Bolzano to Vipiteno, from Bressanone to Brunico and Merano the famous Christmas markets are a real December tradition, with their comprehensive selection of local crafts and delicacies of regional cooking. One of the most characteristic, the Christmas market in the town of Brunico, 22 miles from Bressanone, offers distinctive handcrafted products, various sweets and local recipes such as stuffed baked potatoes. Enjoy delicious gingerbread cookies and Zelten, a typical Christmas local sweet, while walking through the artistically decorated stands.