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From its cultural heart to the altitudinous pleasures it offers, we put Bolzano in the headlights to explore its heritage core, architectural merit, stylish stays, foodie forays and more.
The capital of South Tyrol, and for many the starting point to adventures in the region, Bolzano is a small scenic town cradled by the dramatic peaks of the UNESCO-protected Dolomites and undulating valleys with unmistakable vineyards snaking around the verdant landscapes. The city itself has an energetic vibe thanks to annual cultural festivals and the university students, set against a backdrop of heritage haunts: the medieval castles, Gothic churches and wide piazzas.
Although very much living in present with a lively café culture, wine and restaurant scene, to get under the skin of Bolzano is to understand the unique setting, close to Austria yet withinits own micro-culture of South Tyrol, with a trilingual influence of Italian, German and Ladin. Once an important stop as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was also supressed during fascist rule in the Twenties. Today its fusion culture is very much its calling card, along with the irresistible draw of nature, framed by the drama of the Dolomites.
Cradled by the jagged Dolomite region are some of The Aficionados’ most notable, strikingand characterful hotels, many of them built with love, handed down through families or starting afresh with a vision for the future. In Bolzano itself enjoy the proximity of greenery at Parkhotel Mondschein; the suburbs of Bolzano give us Magdalener Hof, a playful bolthole of style.
Further afield Gloriette and Schgaguler are our architectural beacons, inspirational abodes that are sculpted by clever design, whereas Schloss Freudenstein in Appiano harks back to regal splendour in a 12th century castle.
North of Bolzano is Lana, home of Villa Arnica, a place of chic repose wrapped in nostalgic acclaim and 1477 Reichhalter where salvaged charm adorns this chilled guesthouse. In nearby Avelengo, Miramonti Boutique Hotel greets us with captivating style and a rooftop pool.
Other South Tyrolean landmark hotels can be found here: Hotels in South Tyrol.
To know a region well is to explore through its foodie customs and traditions. In Bolzano, the gateway to South Tyrol, produce is bountiful sourced from the meadows, mountains and verdant forests. Get to know the epicureans of South Tyrol and the hybrid cuisine that draws from Italy and Austria creating a micro gastronomy that focus on fresh and seasonal alongside the mainstays of dairy, cured meats, Schnitzel and thick soups.
Moving with the times, South Tyrolean architects have made their mark too, framing Dolomite landscapes with innovative design that’s rooted in nature to create sustainable solutions that just feel good. We’re inspired by our friend Peter Pichler who with his architectural design studio always take their cue from the surrounding panoramas to create a pure, natural design that sings with splendour such as Schgaguler Hotel and Milla Montis. Elsewhere in the region you can admire modern beacons of design to be, like that on VirglMountain where a new cultural hub and cable car system is in the planning, designed by Snøhetta, an international architecture and interior design studio. Bolzano hit the newsheadlines in September 1991 at the discovery of Ötzi, also called the Iceman, the mummy of a man who lived between 3350 and 3105 BC. Ötzi was discovered in the Ötztal Alps at the border between Austria and Italy and can be seen displayed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. Not to be missed is Museion Bolzano, designed by Berlin-based architects KSV Krüger Schuberth Vandreike, a striking, cubic structure that houses contemporary art and photography from local and international artists.