Foto © IDM Alto Adige Clemens Zahn
If you’ve never seen her, you’ve sinned a lot. The South Tyrolean regional capital is a unique heritage of history, where Nordic and Italian culture merge to create new balances, leading the city to be always at the top of the quality of life.
The rivers Adige, Isarco and Talvera converge in the Bozen basin, which is hot in summer and freezing in winter. But don’t be discouraged by the temperatures: a fairytale old town, majestic castles, surroundings to be discovered, make this town a real jewel set among the mountains we love the most.
The beating heart of Bozen is Walther Square, dedicated to the South Tyrolean opera poet Walther von der Vogelweide, whose statue stands in the centre of the square. The city’s most important events take place here, from Christmas markets to the Flower Festival at the turn of April and May.
With your back to Walther you will undoubtedly notice the solemn Cathedral of Bolzano/Bozner Dom, a Gothic-style building dating back to 1420. What you see, however, is the result of a structure built on three previous churches: one early Christian, one early medieval and one Romanesque. The 65-meter-high bell tower stands out for its 25 bells that mark the time of the Bolzano people every day. Inside, the typical atmosphere of the Nordic churches will take you back in time. Note the rich pulpit carved in wood.
After the Sacred, we advise you to throw yourself into the atmosphere of the worldliness that this city, although small, has to offer: walk through its streets, especially the arcades. In the famous Laubengasse (arcades street) you’ll find a wide variety of shops, from the most famous and modern chains to historic shops that defy time. The atmosphere of the arcades is always something special and we recommend you walk all the way to Piazza delle Erbe/Obstplatz, the commercial heart of Bolzano, with its fruit and vegetable market. Saturday morning is almost impassable, but if you are in the mood for shopping for local delicacies, there is nothing better than this spot.
Also in the old town, you can’t miss the Alto Adige/Südtiroler Archaeology Museum, where you can admire the original findings of the Iceman – also known as Ötzi – and his history on the first three floors. Through a small window, you can see the mummy found on the Similaun peak (in the Schnalstal valley), but that’s not all: in other sections you’ll find everything from media reactions to the discovery, to scientific research on the 5,000-year-old but extraordinarily well-preserved ice mummy and its equipment, to curiosities, interviews and interactive stations. A highlight is the reconstruction of the Iceman as he must have been when he was alive. Truly a well thought-out route for those curious about Ötzi’s history. On the top floor of the museum there are temporary exhibitions dedicated to archaeological themes.
Foto © IDM Alto Adige Alex Filz
Foto © IDM Alto Adige Daniel Geiger
There are numerous Stube, typical taverns with a tiled stove in the centre of the living room, where you can enjoy local specialities for a lunch or just a pit-stop snack with strudel and herbal tea.
In the spring or summer season, we recommend that you enjoy Bolzano in the shade of its narrow streets, or live it in the open air: the high quality of life in this city allows you to ride your bike along all the streets and along the courses of its rivers. The Talvera meadows are home to sports lovers, but also to families looking for a few hours of fun and games in company.
Reading here and there on Passione Dolomiti you will certainly have noticed that South Tyrol is full of castles or fortified residences: there are in fact at least 400 of them in the region, almost all of which are well preserved and can be visited. Many are located in areas that are easy to reach and Bolzano is no exception. Here we tell you something about the castles in the city… ready to fall in love?
Schloss Runkelstein, also called Roncolo Castle, will amaze you: from the top of an imposing rocky spur, this fortification dominates the whole city. Built in 1237, Roncolo Castle boasts a cycle of secular medieval frescoes that is unique in Europe for the size in which it is preserved: at a time when it was almost entirely inspired by religious themes, it is surprising to find such a great work that tells the story of chivalry, including the story of Tristan and Isolde. The frescoes are of excellent conservation and date back to the 14th century. To immerse yourself even more in the medieval atmosphere, our advice is to taste the recipes of the Osteria del Castello, a small refreshment corner, characterized by the ancient architecture of the stables, with a valuable terrace for sunny days. The castle can be reached from Piazza Walther with a free shuttle bus service almost all year round.
Perhaps the most visible of all is Firmian Castle, which is located on a hill between Bolzano and Appiano on the Wine Route. Its origins are very old, dating back even before 945 AD. Its name in German is “Schloss Sigismundkron” and it is due to the acquisition of the castle by Sigismund “the money-grubber” who extended it in 1473 to what it is today.
Today, after a major restoration, the castle is home to the Messner Museum Circuit, and the MMM Firmian also shows the mountain world through paintings and memorabilia by the famous South Tyrolean mountaineer.
A pleasant walk from the centre of Bolzano takes you to Mareccio Castle, Schloss Maretsch: surrounded by vineyards and a flat area, this castle dates back to the 13th century. Still well preserved, Schloss Maretsch is today one of the most interesting locations for weddings, conferences and high-level events. Inside you can admire frescoes with some peculiarities such as the horned Moses or the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe by Ovid.
On the south-eastern side of Bolzano, on a small hill, there is Castel Flavon/Haselburg, built in the 11th century. The history of this castle sees many properties following one another, thanks to its location and undeniable beauty. It was only in the early 2000s that the fortress, which had fallen into decay after the wars of the previous century, underwent a fine restoration, which brought to light the basements and the original shape of the castle. Today Castel Flavon is home to a fine restaurant, conference rooms and is the perfect location to crown your wedding.
Foto © IDM Alto Adige
Bolzano is located 265 metres above sea level and lies in a basin surrounded by mountains. This means that in summer temperatures are hot, but don’t worry: we have the solution to this too. In just a few minutes you can dive into the purest and most sparkling air, thanks to three cable cars that allow you to easily reach the sunny meadows and the enchanting woods of San Genesio, the Renon Plateau and Colle. Between 1000 and 1200 meters, you can enjoy the fantastic spectacle of the Dolomites, crossing pastures and breathing in the delicate aromas typical of the woods.
Embraced by a wonderful naturalistic landscape on the Salto plateau, the municipality of San Genesio/Jenesien is located at an altitude ranging from 760 to 1,300 metres. The municipality consists of the village San Genesio and the small hamlets Avigna, Valas, Cologna and Montoppio, which together have a total of 2,900 inhabitants. San Genesio can be reached via the homonymous road and by cable car from Bolzano. This cable car was built in 1937 and for a long time was the only means of public transport connecting San Genesio with the capital of South Tyrol.
San Genesio is known as a hiking paradise and an ideal place for horse lovers: the Haflinger horse breed, typical of Avelengo, is very popular here in San Genesio, thanks to the numerous stables. The extensive network of hiking trails invites you to numerous excursions, walks and even mountain bike tours. In particular the Salto is a popular destination in all seasons of the year. Here you will find the largest larch meadow in Europe, and nearby, in Cologna, you will find the suggestive earth pyramids.
The Renon plateau is often identified with “Soprabolzano”, which is actually a part of the plateau. It is bordered on the east by the Isarco river and on the west by the Talvera river that flows through the Val Sarentino. The municipality of Renon has got more than 7,500 inhabitants and consists of 17 hamlets: Collalbo, Auna di Sotto, Auna di Sopra, Soprabolzano, Costalovara, Siffiano, Vanga, Longostagno, Longomoso, Signato, Campodazzo, Sill, Madonnina, Unterplatten, Monte di Mezzo, Pietrarossa and Gebrack.
The Renon plateau has a long history behind it and many finds indicate an early settlement, with a first mention in the 11th century. Already in the 17th century also the noble inhabitants of the city of Bolzano discovered the Renon as a summer holiday resort.
Until 1900 the high plateau of Renon was hardly reachable, which changed in 1907 thanks to the construction of the narrow-gauge railway. From then on the Renon high plateau became easily and quickly accessible from the city of Bolzano. Today, you can enjoy a ride on this old-fashioned train with a panorama that embraces all the Dolomites: Sciliar and Catinaccio first and foremost. In 2009 the new Renon cable car was inaugurated.
The Corno del Renon is a renowned ski resort, very comfortable and easily accessible for the Bolzanini.
Finally, we would like to point out that Auna di Sotto (Unterinn) is home to an important South Tyrolean excellence in the world of sweets: Loacker. Look beyond the company: now do you understand why the Sciliar is its symbol? Enjoy your meal!
The Colle cable car connects Bolzano and Colle at an altitude of 1,134 metres. Also this village was recognized by the people of Bolzano as a holiday destination in the 19th century and thanks to the intuition of an hotelier from Bolzano, Josef Staffler, in 1908 the first cable car for the transport of people in the world was built. But don’t worry! Today, the first cable car has been replaced by a super modern one that takes you in 5 minutes to admire one of the most beautiful views over the city: the Dolomites rise majestically to the east, eight hundred meters below the city lies silently at the intersection of the three rivers that run through it, to the west you can read the profiles of Mount Penegal and the Mendola Pass, your gaze is lost up to the Gruppo del Tessa and the mountains of eternal ice.
As soon as you get off the cable car, don’t miss the model of the original cable car: it is right there next to the garden benches. And now you can immerse yourself in the network of beautiful paths that populate this part of Bolzano
Foto © Giacomo Romito
Foto © IDM Alto Adige Alex Filz
The city of Bolzano, like all South Tyrolean valleys, is teeming with life and events throughout the year. Whether they are more touristy or not, we list some of the most interesting, starting with winter.
The famous Christmas Markets are the cult event that attracts thousands of people every winter. The centre of Bolzano is literally stormed with good peace of mind by the inhabitants, who often avoid travelling during this period. The numerous stalls sell from local handicrafts to gastronomic delicacies of the region: so off you go with wool shoes, wooden knick-knacks, bacon, pretzels, strudel and company. The stinging cold that is typical of the city, will no longer be perceived, thanks to the all the tourists or a few glasses of mulled wine. A magical atmosphere involving children and adults.
New Year’s Eve is a very heartfelt occasion and celebrating New Year’s Eve in the centre of Bolzano with dances and fireworks will be an emotion that will remain in your heart!
Spring sees events for all tastes: from the Spring Market in the station square, to the wine exhibition in Castel Mareccio, to the heartfelt Flower Festival, where Piazza Walther is transformed into a colourful and fragrant carpet, to the Gourmet Festival in Piazza del Grano, where a series of tastings will catapult you into South Tyrol’s gastronomy.
The summer season is the cradle of events. It starts with the Feste Musicali, which are small concerts of various types of music, in the most beautiful settings of the city, including Castel Roncolo. Throughout the whole season, the Dominican Church hosts a series of musical events in its charming cloister. The Südtirol Jazzfestival, on the other hand, is a great place for jazz music, which includes many locations also outside the city, where jazz bands from all over the world perform their best repertoire. Bolzano Danza is one of the highlights of the city’s cultural summer: for two weeks, in the second half of July, the city is a great artistic showcase with an international appeal. Prominent world artists, national companies and special projects have allowed the festival to become an important reference point in the European dance scene over the years. Not to be missed is also a passage into the world of wine, with Goblets of Stars, which for the occasion illuminates the wonderful Lauben (arcades) for this event.
Autumn prepares us for the delights that only this season can offer: in Piazza delle Erbe, at the end of September, Dolce Vita, an evening of local gastronomy with music in the background, is planned.
Your artistic soul will be satisfied with the Transart Festival: one of the most important multidisciplinary festival of contemporary culture in Italy.
Appreciated throughout Europe, Transart involves the public in a new and exciting discovery of the most important and innovative contemporary culture projects set up in spaces that enhance its experimental character: abandoned factories, mountain huts, former barracks, universities.
And how not to schedule a sports event in the home of Italy’s greatest sportsmen and women? Also in Bolzano a trail run is organized, a mountain run, called Bozen Trail Run, usually in mid-October, to enjoy the colours given by nature in the city.
Foto © IDM Alto Adige Alex Filz
On the Renon Plateau there is a particular and unique breeding on the Wagyu. It is a quality of Japanese beef, very valuable and difficult to find outside the country of the Rising Sun. Curious animals different from our most common cows: they can be easily visited, also for the happiness of children, at the Oberweidacher Hof.
Spend a weekend in Bolzano planning everything in detail. Depending on the season, there are many possibilities and many events to participate in!