The slightly confusing names of the provinces and the region itself act as a pointer to a history that has seen this area governed by different countries with different languages at different stages. For simplicity, all of the town names on this website are the Italian versions but nearly every town in the region has an alternative German name which is often given priority on street signs or culturally among the people. Geography plays an obvious part in that with the borders to Switzerland and Austria but politics have also contributed; just over a hundred years ago, the region was part of the Austrian/Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1919 when a post-World War One treaty saw it transferred to Italy.
Trentino Alto-Adige/Sudtirol is a mountainous region of the Southern Alps and the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites. It’s characterised by its dramatic Alpine passes and lakes, making it a magnet for hikers and activity holidaymakers. During the winter it offers some of Italy’s best ski resorts among which are Madonna di Campiglio, Canazei and Ortisei, while the summer months see these same resorts teeming with life as tourists seek to take in the fresh mountain air and incredible scenery.
The aforementioned Trento and Bolzano are the region’s two major cities; Trento famous for its medieval streets and Buonconsiglio Castle while Bolzano attracts visitors from all over Italy for its Christmas market and international travellers who come to see Otzi the 3,500 year old “Ice-Man” at the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum. The region can boast further cities with their own distinct characters such as Bressanone, Brunico, Merano and Rovereto. A common thread among the cities are neatly-appointed streets with colourful buildings giving them a bright, welcoming appearance. Smaller towns such as Vipiteno, Glorenza, Moena and San Candido have managed to combine the medieval world with the modern to great effect and visits to each are well-rewarded.
Despite Trentino Alto-Adige/Sudtirol being landlocked with no coastal areas, you’re never too far away from the water and indeed, from some of the most breathtaking scenery in Italy. Not only are there a great many lakes, but they offer a variety of features. Among the most beautiful are Lake Braies on which you can take part in water activities during the summer or simply enjoy the views while hiking in the winter, while the stunning Lake Tenno with its crystalline waters resembles a Caribbean island at times. The northern end of Italy’s Lake Garda is in the region with its wonderful lakeside town of Riva del Garda, while holidaymakers flock to the town of Molveno and its eponymous lake for spectacular panoramas and excellent facilities. Among the beautiful there is also the quirky and none more so than Lake Resia where a submerged clock tower will leave you scratching your head as you drive past. The Lake has recently been given a huge publicity boost with the Italian hit TV show Curon filmed there and a fictitious story built around it.
It is though, nature that rules in this region. Mountain passes such as Val Gardena, Passo Sella and Plan de Corones will leave you awestruck while the huge open spaces of Stelvio National Park, Adamello-Brenta Nature Park and Puez-Geisler Natural Park are just a few that offer endless possibilities for healthy recreation.