Discovering the German Part of Italy – South Tyrol

Very often when I talk to people about South Tyrol they don’t know what I am talking about. Even though Sudtirol or Alto Adige is famous like California in the United States. It seems to be relatively unknown in the world. And still it is a place that is very much visited and has a huge tourism industry.

The northernmost region of Italy is a part of Italy I always wanted to visit. For two reasons: first I am writing about this region now for more than a decade and second it is a place where gluten free in Europe ‘was born’. The company Schär produces gluten free products already since 1981 when first problems with gluten appeared. Today they export all over the world.

But back to the region South Tyrol. More than 2.000 years ago the region was conquered by the Romans Drusus and Tiberius. It was a transit area from east to west and north to south through the Alps. Still today you can find the Via Claudia Augusta crossing the mountains from the Po river to southern Germany.

After the Romans the region became part of the Ostroghotic Kingdom. There were some slowly growing cities like Trento, Merano, Bolzano, Bruneck or Sterzing.

Later it was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Napoleon had a short influence in the 19th century before the Austrian Empire included the area in their territory in mid-century.

After the 2nd world war it became part of Italy which resulted in a problematic dispute for a long time. More than 60% are German speaking (23% are Italian and 4% is still Ladin speaking, an old Rhaeto-Romance language).

Today it is an euroregion which means it is strongly working with Tyrol in Austria. It is nearly completely autonomous, self-governed and includes Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino (which is mainly Italian speaking).

Enough about history. It has a long history with a lot of interesting facts but too much for this article.

The decision to go to South-Tyrol came in the car when my sweetie and I were driving south from Northern Germany. We had planned a stop at Sonthofen in the Allgäu region in Southern Germany but that friend had family problems. We skipped it. So we wanted to visit another friend in Graz/Austria, but he had to go somewhere right those days. A friend in Vienna had visitors until the end of the week and was also not available. What to do? Let’s go to Meran in South-Tyrol.

And that’s what we did. We left the motorway at Vipiteno and crossed the Alps with their peaks and valleys until for the night we finally stopped at a small hotel somewhere on the way to Meran.

We enjoyed a great dinner made only for us and the morning after the breakfast, typical Tyrolean with many different kinds of bread. The air was crispy early in the morning but during the day it became hot like I am used to in South Italy.

We had two more nights in the area, all in different places. That way we have visited a lot of villages and castles, I finally could walk through Schloss Traumannsdorff and the Touriseum and could experience the Dolomites.

My ‘complementing part’ loved to be here, he enjoyed every single minute, every meal (I just say dumplings!) and the whole atmosphere. He always loved the Bavarian area in Germany, now this was Germany in Italy! And he was right when saying: “You are in Italy and I feel like I am in Germany.” So we both had our part (I like Italy more than the northern country). I am sure we will come back many more times. I am curious and he enjoys…


For further information:
Official website of South Tyrol

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