When Italy is mentioned, cities such as Rome and Florence come to mind. In this article I will write about the hidden corner of Italy: Trentino-Alto Adige, one of Italy’s 20 autonomous regions, lies on the Austrian border in the north of the country. The region is composed of two sub-sections: Trentino is mostly Italian, while the Austrian character is dominant in Alto Adige. During our trip, we knew we moved from one section to the other, with German or Italian taking the top place in the bilingual road signs throughout the region.
In the region there are the cities of Bressanone, Bolzano, Merano, Chiusa, Vipiteno and Verona. We departed from Istanbul for Bologna with Turkish Airlines’ direct flight. From Bologna, we started the ride with our bus, which provided transportation between the cities in the region.
When should you go?
When I started my blog, I decided to write about my past travels as soon as I could, because I want them to go on record without getting lost. So I found my notes and photos and here I share them with you.
My travel was on December 14-17. The reason I chose this time of the year was to see the beautiful Christmas lightsshining on snow and the unique Christmas markets.
Using the advantage of arriving with a morning flight, we set out for a ride. Our first stop is the city of Trento, the capital of the region with a population of 111,000. We walk on the lively Via Belenzani. We see the remains of the two thousand years old Tridentum and visit the historical “Duomo”.
Scrigno del Duomo
We have lunch in the restaurant Scrigno del Duomo. Our wine is the delightful production of Pojer e Sandri wine estate, introducing us the local Nosiola grape. I eat hand-made pasta to go with the wine; fresh and very tasty. For dessert, I taste the first “Apfelstrudel” on the trip. Apfelstrudel is a famous Austrian dessert and we are in Italy, but since the region is on the Austrian border, we will see plenty of Austrian influence. This is an example of the cultural richness of the region.
Vineyard Elisabetta Foradori
From here we go to the vineyards of the wine producer Elisabetta Foradori and do wine tasting. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a vineyard under the snow.
At the end of the day we come to our hotel for a well deserved rest. Hotel Elephant in Bressanone – Brixen in German; so we come across both names – a special place that has been run since 1773 as a hotel. It is housed in a very elegant historical building built in the 1500s. One feels the elaborate design in every corner of the hotel.
We have a great dinner with our menu specially prepared for our group. Our wine is a delicious bottle of Lagrein grapes produced by the Mayr-Unterganzer family, which has been engaged in viticulture since 1629. The flavors, quality, ambience and service at the restaurant is very high. As a result, my best eating & drinking experience by far for the whole trip has taken place!
We come to Merano, another important city in the Alto Adige region. We walk around the city streets and explore the Christmas market. Of course I don’t miss the opportunity to eat Brezel – a kind of bagel, which is common in Germany and Austria, adorned with coarse-grained salt pieces. They have made very beautiful Christmas ornaments using simple jars. I find it really nice that nobody touches them so everyone can enjoy!
Our next stop is Bolzano. We visit the historic Gothic Cathedral.
Then we go to Castel Roncolo; walk along the corridors and in the snow-covered garden.
Adige, Italy’s second longest river after Po, passes through the city adding beauty to it.
From Bolzano, we go to Chiusa. We walk the streets of this charming small town and in the evening we enjoy the Christmas market.
Hofburg Palace and Museum
After breakfast, we visit Hofburg Palace and Museum in Bressanone. In the museum, which is the largest in the region, we see many contemporary art exhibitions along with work from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Then we go to the town of Vipiteno. We visit the town’s Christmas market and enjoy hot
dogs and beer for lunch. Let me draw your attention to the beautiful local drape on the table!
The merry-go-round at the Christmas market reveals the child inside me!
The town welcomes us with a surprise live music concert.
Our next stop is Neustift Abbey. We visit the 12th century monastery and church.
Abbazia di Novacella
Then we taste Abbazia di Novacella wines, which are their own product. My favorites are Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer
In the evening we return to Bressanone, where our hotel is, and watch “Soliman’s Dream”
sound and light show. This wonderful show in the courtyard of Hofburg Palace which we visited
before takes us to a fairy tale. According to historical records, the Asian elephant
Soliman was brought here in 1540 for King Maximilian II. The elephant, which became
the mascot of the region, lived here until 1553. This interesting story is told in the show.
We enjoy it very much except the fact that we are very cold since the show is outdoors.
After breakfast we leave our hotel and travel to Verona, a small and compact city. We visit the Christmas market which is very crowded compared to the previous ones.
We come across a festival in the square, and we say goodbye to Verona, dancing and having fun with the participants dressed as Santa Claus. We leave for Bologna Airport. I buy Panettone, which is my favorite Christmas taste.
I will remember Trentino-Alto Adige as a very colorful and original region which is an
interesting blend of Italy and Austria. I would like to thank Lokal Tours for this wonderful program.