Bolzano's inhabitants belong to three groups 70 percent Italians, 26 percent German and a small percentage of Ladins, people who speak a dialect of Romansh. It has a decided Tyrolean atmosphere, wedged in the foot of the jagged Dolomite Mountains.
The Rosengarten Mountain, one of the best-known in the Dolomites, can be seen from the town centre. It's hard to believe you are in Italy as the area is typically Austrian with chalet-style houses, farms, medieval castles, onion-domed churches and plenty of schnitzel. Bolzano was actually won from Austria during WWI.
You hear both German and Italian being spoken and street names are in both languages. Cuisine is a mix of two influences Viennese tarts and Austrian rye bread are sold next to Italian olive oils and pasta. There are over 300 hectares of grapevines within the city limits.
Bolzano's oldest resident is Otzi the Ice Man. The 5300-year-old mummified man was found protruding from a glacier in 1991 and is displayed in an igloo-like case of ice tiles. He is the star of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.
The town centre is closed to traffic after 10am and six days a week the main street is filled with market stalls. As Bolzano was built up between the 12th and 13th centuries, they are some of the longest running markets to be found anywhere.
Castle Tyrol is perched on a 600 metre peak. It was built in the 12th century and was residence of the Counts of Tyrol until 1363 when the last heir reluctantly gave up her title and handed over her possessions to the Austrian Habsburgs.
Recent digging by archaeologists has uncovered an 18th century church beneath the castle.
Of the rooms you can now visit, the chapel is the most breathtaking. Wide windows frame magnificent views, and there is a massive crucifix over the altar, frescoes and stained glass dating to the 14th century.
The Castle is completely restored and houses a great museum and a café.
Wirtshaus Vogele is a favourite restaurant. Its Austrian/Italian food and war history are big attractions. It was used by Austrian generals during WWI for strategy meetings. Italian spies frequented the restaurant and listened in on their conversations.
Known as Red Eagle in around 1870, it was visited by travelling sales people, poets, philosophers and simple people who enjoyed socialising, eating and drinking together. One of them is believed to have been Goethe, the German poet, novelist, playwright, courtier and natural philosopher. There are many attractive rooms and it oozes charm and atmosphere.
The newly renovated Hotel Greif is an oasis in lively downtown Bolzano. Its artistic decor blends charm with works specifically created by contemporary artists for each of its 33 rooms. Its history dates to the Middle Ages and was known to travellers as the Black Griffin Inn.
From the year 1600 on, the names of all its owners and leaseholders have been recorded in official documents. In 1816 the inn was sold to Peter Staffler from nearby Siffian and since then it and its successor, the Hotel Greif, have been owned by the Staffler family.
Italy's south Tyrol region.
Skiare has accommodation starting at $155 per double per night. A private guide for a half day is included.
South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology entry is around $13 per person and 60-minute guided tours are $5 per person. They take telephone reservations from Monday to Friday between 9am and noon and 2:30-4:30pm.
Schloss Castle Tyrol is open between March 15-November 30 every day except Monday, between 10am and 5pm.
Emirates has flights to Milan.
Valid for sale and travel until March 31, 2009.
For more information
Box 913, Post Office
New Farm, 4005
Ph: 1300 88 5504
Fax: (07) 3843 6156
Goethe route 3 via Goethe
South Tyrol/Alto Adige
Ph: +39 (0) 471 973938
Fax: +39 (0) 471 325750
South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
Via Museo 43
Ph: +39 (0) 471 320 100
Fax: +39 (0) 0471 320 122
Ph: +39 (0) 471 318 000
Fax: +39 (0) 471 318 148
The Dolomites, official website
Ph: 1300 303 777