Quirky Travel Question: where in Europe is South Tyrol?
Now be honest. No quick checking on Google. How many of you answered Austria? That was my immediate thought when I received an invitation to visit South Tyrol (also known as Alto Adige or Südtirol). However, I soon learnt that it’s actually in ITALY, its northernmost province which, according to the tourist board website, combines, “Alpine staidness with Italian joie-de-vivre, the Dolomites – a UNESCO World Heritage site – and cultural diversity. South Tyrol is a region abounding with contrasts, between Mediterranean landscape and Alpine peaks, deeply rooted tradition and cosmopolitan curiosity.” Sounds great, doesn’t it!
I’m going to spend a weekend in this intriguing region to see what gastronomic delights it has to offer. I hear it is choc-a-bloc with top-quality cheeses and award-winning wines. I’ll be travelling with fellow travel bloggers Heather Cowper ‘Heather on her Travels’ who’s trying some outdoor activities and Abigail King ‘Inside the Travel Lab’, who will be focusing on the architecture and design.
We’re staying in historic Bolzano, the provincial capital of South Tyrol, at the More Magdalener Hotel, which looks very modern. It even has its own ‘Philosophy’; “more ‘space for your dreams” which sounds fab but not sure our busy itinerary will allow much time for dreaming …
My Lonely Planet Guide to Italy says of Bolzano, “Its quality of life – one of the highest in Italy – is reflected in its openness, youthful energy and an all-pervading greeness.” However, the city’s most famous inhabitant is anything but youthful; the ‘Iceman’ exhibited in the Archaeological Museum lived over 5,300 years ago. Bolzano looks a lovely mix of the old and new with a beautiful backdrop of the Dolomite mountains.
On the Saturday I will be in the Val de Vizze near the Austrian border, learning how Speck cheese is made, visiting the Pretzhof, a traditional farm and having lunch there.
In the afternoon I’m hoping to be able to wander round Bolzano and discover a bit more of its history and culture.
Quirky Travel Fact
The village of Termeno/Tramin, located on the South Tyrolean Wine Route, has given its name to the Gewürztraminer grape. This area is rich in vineyards and one of my pleasures on this trip will be tasting a few of the wines, including those at the Nals Margreid winery, which I read has some excellent vintages. Lunch will be at the Hotel Miramonti with Chris Mayr, president of the Sommelier Association of South Tyrol, who will be talking about the Alto Adige wine region.
Finally I’m really looking forward to visiting The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle. Those of you who read this blog regularly know how much I love history and culture and this is my chance to learn more about this side of South Tyrol. With its origins in the Middle Ages and a neo-Gothic look created in the 19th c, Trauttsamndorff Castle has been restored with rooms reflecting its historic heritage. It also houses the region’s Tourism Museum and has world-famous gardens. Hopefully I will have plenty of time to explore its many attractions; I’ll have to be careful not to have TOO much wine during the day.
So, that’s my deliciously different Italian weekend with South Tyrol Tourism as part of the Travelator Media group. You can follow our quirky travels with the hashtag #insouthtyrol on Twitter and other Social Media platforms and there will, of course be a blog post or two on my return. Ciao …
Here’s what I found on my delicious gastronomic tour of South Tyrol – as you can see, it more than exceeded expectations!