As the largest in South Tyrol, the alpine town of Bolzano is home to approximately 250,000 people. Offering the highest quality of life in Italy, Bolzano’s border location means the city’s culture blends both Italian and German-Austrian. Initially settled by the Romans, it was following the decline of the House of Lombard in the seventh century that Bavarian rulers transformed the area into an alpine trading zone. During the World Wars, Bolzano found itself on the frontline of much of the fighting with many fortresses and defensive markers still visible. Today, the city is home to a university, as well as the Museum of Archaeology’s Otzi the Iceman.
Offering medieval churches with a backdrop of glacial lakes, Bolzano’s Old Town is where you’ll find the Piazza Walther and the ornate tiled roof and gothic design of the city’s Duomo. Alternatively, admire views from the Santa Maria Maddalena Church or the Kohlern-Colle mountain resort before enjoying a wine tasting session sure to rival anywhere in Tuscany. Across the city, the most prominent castles are Runkelstein or Flavo, the latter home to a restaurant serving traditional South Tyrol cuisine, including speck ham, dumplings, pasta and wienerschnitzel. Similarly, the German restaurants of the Rentsch-Rencio district are where you’ll find the city’s best cheese.
The nearest international airports are Verona and Austria’s Innsbruck, while flights are available from Milan, Bologna, Venice and Munich. Alternatively, Bolzano is connected by Eurocity trains and regular shuttles departing from main centres and airports.