Welcome to South Tyrol, Italy
Located in the most northern region of Italy bordering Austria; that is where Trentino-South Tyrol . First time travellers to Italy, this is probably not a common travel region, but enthusiasts of hiking or skiing make it their regular vacation stop.
This is a bilingual region where you hear German & Italian. In the valleys of the Dolomites a small amount , only 5% of people speak Ladin.
Bolzano is the capital and also the largest city in the region, with the strongest German influence.
South Tyrol blessed with some of the most dramatic mountains I have ever seen. The Dolomites is part of UNESCO World Heritage list.
How to Get to South Tyrol
Plane : If you have been to Italy and seen the major tourist cities as Rome, Florence or the Amalfi Coast, I suggest you try this region in any season. It offers lush green for hiking in the summer, beautiful surrounding lakes and the majestic mountains for winter skiing.
The major airport is in Bolzano, Airport Bolzano Dolomites. This is where you need to fly to . You can also try the closest cities around like, Milano Malpensa Airport or Munich Airport in Germany.
Train : If you are already in Italy you can take a train to get in to South Tyrol. The trains are comfortable with spectacular scenery approaching this mountainous region.
For all information on fares, schedules or train destinations please visit Trenitalia.
Bus and Car : Buses are cheaper but longer to arrive . Buses as well connected around South Tyrol . If you arrive at the airport you can always rent a car to travel up close to the Dolomites.
Things to Do in Winter
Believe it or not, with their magical Christmas markets and Italians celebrating the holidays in the enchanting mountains, December is considered high season . Do not fear the cold in this region, it is not as bad as Canadian winters .
I suggest you book hotels at least 1 month in advance to avoid less choices .
From Trento to Bolzano, Christmas markets take over in this region. Even if you may not celebrate Christmas or holidays are not your thing, you can really get a feel of this region through the markets. Although it attracts millions of people around the world, this experience should not let it pass you . Besides they are fun, magical for children and us adults too.
Christmas market is where traditions unfolds and the festive atmosphere fills the air with home made aromas or traditional hearty flavours. The sound of joyful music & golden jingling decorations is truly symbolic of that special time of the year!
Christmas markets is an explosion of all your senses coming to life. If you are a foodie like myself, this is a great time to savour their traditional foods or drinks like canederli or vin brûlé. Great place for Christmas gifts or just to bring a souvenir home.
The South Tyrol Museum of Archeology
In 1991 German hikers spotted a frozen body on the Ötztal Alps on the Austrian–Italian border. I am not sure about you, but I remember. hearing this on the news. Years later , I actually went to see this at the The South Tyrol Museum of Archeology.
The frozen body or known as Ötzi the Iceman ,was closer to the Italian border therefore Bolzano took the rights on the body. With years and years of research they have estimated the body being from the Copper Age which is over 5300 hundred years ago ! Can you believe this ?
The museum is actually really interesting where details of this Alpine celebrity is displayed throughout the whole museum. You actually also see real frozen corpse conserved in an enclosed room of -6c. This was really fascinating to see but also very shocking that a corpse of 5300 hundred years old was still in “existence”.
If you love history or remember this news back in 1991, this museum is a must. I really enjoyed it especially when I had my personal guide educating me about Bolzano’s remarkable moment of history that was told all over the world.
If you are not a skier or a hiker , you can still see the Dolomites by taking the Renon cable car. It is a 12 minute cable ride from Bolzano to SopraBlozano. Indeed views are spectacular and pictures don’t do justice. Once you reach the top, you can visit another Christmas market or take a train that brings you around this little town.
You can also just browse around and admire the majestic mountains surrounding Sopra Blozano; if you love Llamas you will spot a few of these cuties.
For the price of the cable car it is the following rates: One-way ticket: € 3.50
Return ticket: € 6.00 but you can get yourself Mobilcard and it will be free. My hotel provided me one so I suggest to ask about this as you get free transportation around Bolzano and discounts.
Ski resorts Trentino-Alto Adige
Italians love to spend the holidays in the mountains. Many will travel to the most posh and prestigious ski resorts to celebrate Christmas. You can say skiing is a part of Northern Italian’s way of life. There are probably over 50 ski resorts but here all the ones who are the most popular and best ones.
Madonna di Campiglio, Monte Bondone, Lavarone, Prags are only a very few that I know of. For more information please consult Trentino Ski Resorts .
There is so much to do and see within this region of Italy that I really enjoyed. If you are not into hiking or skiing, you can just enjoy what each small town has to offer. Bolzano is the largest city and has a more energetic vibe whereas Trento was more laid back. Trentino-South Tyrol is probably not a region most people discover but I really recommend it.
I was hosted at the The South Tyrol Museum of Archeology but all opinions are honestly my own.