The small picturesque town of Bolzano/Bozen is found scattered along a lush valley, snaking around terraces of verdant vineyards and the greenest hills of the Italian Dolomites. The capital of South Tyrol (Südtirol), Bolzano/Bozen, carries its heritage well with pretty, pastel coloured streets, tiny tall-steepled churches, wide piazzas with Gothic duomos and chunky Medieval castles. But this is not a city stuck in the past - Bolzano/Bozen received an Alpine accolade for its commitment to a sustainable future and throughout the year the town hosts a variety of festivals from film to dance music, plus the nearby vineyards means there’s a healthy wine scene to get stuck in to.
But looking to its past does help us understand its unique position as a bridge between north and south. Close to the border of Switzerland and Austria, the town was once a stopping point on the way to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then after WW1 it controversary turned from being Austrian to Italian, and in 1920 it suffered at the hands of Mussolini’s brutal fascist rule. Today, you’ll hear Italian, German and Ladin flowing freely and happily, and students flock to the trilingual university. Visitors love its hybrid culture as seen in its cuisine where German fare fuses with Italian to produce surprisingly delicious pairings, and traditional markets offer the best of both north and south.
But perhaps the best of Bolzano/Bozen can be found in the surrounding nature. Use Bolzano/Bozen as a springboard to explore mountains, rivers, lakes and forests. In summer, take the cable car up to the jagged peaks and wander wildflower meadows stopping for dips in crystal-clear lakes. For those that like to mix culture with forays in the outdoors, a visit to Zaha Hadid’s extraordinary modernist museum is a must. Jutting out like an alien craft crash-landed into the Dolomites, the museum holds fascinating relics from Tyrolean traditions. In winter, snow dusts the peaks and thrill-seekers will find challenging runs which finish in cosy mountain huts serving hearty Alpine nourishment. Come snow or shine, or often both, Bolzano/Bozen is a city to be seen and experienced.
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