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South Tyrol Special: These are the most beautiful destinations

Gorgeous mountain backdrops, 300 days of sunshine a year, and a vibrant arts and culture scene: Italy's northernmost region attracts luxury vacationers, sports enthusiasts, and travel influencers alike. A guide to the most beautiful hotels, the best restaurants and the most important sights.

22 June 2022


Bolzano

An aperitivo accompanied by traditional nibbles in the early evening is part of the tradition south of the Brenner Pass. And where better to enjoy it than at sunset in the medieval city center of Bolzano? This is how to relax after a day at the gateway to the Dolomites. ©Marlene Mauer

"See and be seen" is the motto in the sophisticated bars and casual pubs of the South Tyrolean capital Bolzano. For a social get-together with an Aperol Spritz or a Veneziano, for example, the "Walther's" on Waltherplatz, the bar in the time-honoured "Hotel Laurin" or the lounge of the "Exil Café" are ideal. In the future, the newly renovated "Parkhotel Mondschein" will also become the city's central meeting place. The "fish benches" at the marble tables of the former fish stalls in Dr.-Streiter-Gasse are already considered one of the most original stops for a cool drink. Although Bolzano is celebrated for the wine of its surroundings, craft beer is also highly regarded. It is not for nothing that the International Craft Beer Meeting (on May 13 and 14), held against the fine backdrop of Maretsch Castle, is a celebration in honour of the brew.

 

Burgraviate 

A sea of light pink spreads out in spring when the many apple trees in Burgraviato are in lush bloom. While nature unfolds its full splendor, in and around Merano it's all about enjoyment and culture, as well as the perfect union of Alpine and Italian lifestyles. ©Getty Images

The ancient cultural landscape of Burggrafenamt is considered the birthplace of the historic Tyrol. It is famous not least for the fruit growing that is widespread here and the apple blossoms that cover the region with delicate white and light pink every spring. The area is also known for its abundant hours of sunshine. When the sun rises over the Texel Group in the morning, the Mediterranean plants here soak up warm rays just like the visitors. No less a person than Elisabeth, Empress of Austria, made Merano a booming luxury health resort through her visits. Some things still remind us today of the splendour she brought with her - such as the "Sissi Trail". It connects her first residence, Trauttmansdorff Castle, with the old town. Other regular guests were literary greats such as the author Franz Kafka, whom the city likes to commemorate with events.

 

Vinschgau

The west of South Tyrol is full of contrasts - palm trees and glaciers, marble and apricots, daring bike trails and cozy Waalwege want to be experienced with all senses. Insta-spot number one is a church tower in the crystal-clear water, next to which colorful kites often fly along. ©IDM South Tyrol-Alto Adige/Matt Cherubino

A sunken tower in the lake is not only a landmark and Insta-hotspot of Vinschgau, but also a rather sad proof of a morally questionable lake damming in 1950. Nevertheless, with its six kilometres of length and its crystal-clear water, over which colourful kites mostly fly during the day, Lake Reschen is today a must-see on the way through this part of South Tyrol. A view from below on the Sonnenberg testifies to its richness of variety: here the area captivates with its unique aesthetics. The reason for this is the barrenness of the mountain, which the eye can't get enough of.

 

Überetsch-Unterland 

In the famous wine-growing region around Lake Kaltern you can experience and enjoy wine, feel Alpine traditions and Mediterranean lifestyle, do sports and relax - where the heart beats so for wine and culture, there is enough room for idleness and pleasure walks. ©IDM South Tyrol-Alto Adige/Peter von Felbert

Here, everything revolves around fine wines: the most important winegrowing region in South Tyrol is located in the area around Caldaro and Appiano, with its Mediterranean climate, the Alps to protect it from the cold in the north and the easily heated soil. The region is strongly committed to the ruby red Vernatsch, which in recent years has led to a significant increase in the quality of this traditional red wine. Well-structured Merlot wines and balanced Cabernets come from the surrounding area, while Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir develop in the higher sites; the South Tyrolean lowlands are also home to Gewürztraminer. Magnificent estates and castles steeped in history adorn the landscape.

 

Pustertal & Salten-Schlern

Rugged peaks, picturesque lakes and almost endless possibilities for outdoor enthusiasts: between the Pustertal and Salten-Schlern valleys beats the heart of the Dolomites - where brilliant highlights await nature enthusiasts and travel influencers. ©IDM South Tyrol-Alto Adige/Harald Wisthaler

Fancy a full dose of nature? In the midst of the Dolomites, outdoor fans, Instagram hotspotters and adrenaline junkies get their money's worth. The landscape in the Pustertal, also known as the "Green Valley", is first idyllic, then suddenly exciting; extensive alpine pastures are waiting to be discovered at a leisurely pace in many places. The perfect vacation photo can be taken at one of the secluded lakes along the hiking trails. The Pragser Wildsee is outstanding - a highly romantic natural monument, in whose green-blue shimmering water the most beautiful peaks are reflected. The Three Peaks are also a must-take for travel bloggers, and it doesn't matter whether the breathtaking view is photographed from above or the mountain massif serves as a backdrop for dramatic images.

 

Wipptal & Eisacktal

The regions of Wipptal and Eisacktal present themselves as if painted by a master: untouched alpine pastures, picturesque wooden huts and breathtaking mountain scenery await visitors. In addition, there are dreamlike hideaways for those seeking relaxation and urban flair in the two "capitals". ©IDM South Tyrol-Alto Adige/Alex Filz

An insider tip just over the border of Austria is the Wipptal valley with its winding side valleys. In picturesque villages, blossoms glow from the balconies of the farms. Gentle alpine rounds, where you want to take a photo stop after every bend, are made for those who want to take it easy when hiking, but there are also many kilometres of marked trails to choose from, which offer the one or other challenging via ferrata for adventure seekers. Mountain and e-bikers can choose from the extensive network of trails. Sterzing is the centre of the Wipptal and the northernmost town in Italy - the municipality, which many only pass on the highway, scores with unexpected charm: townhouses, picturesque shopping streets and medieval squares stand out against an impressive mountain backdrop.

Text: Marie-Theres Auer, Marion Genetti and Michaela Hessenberger

This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Spring 2022.

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