After the frenetic pace of Lake Garda, we arrived in Italy's "Alto Adige" region, also known to German speakers as 'Sud Tirol'.
The region belonged to Austria until the end of WW1 when it was taken over by Italy, and the region retains much of its Austrian heritage and culture. These days Sud Tirol has autonomy from Rome, and one of the many concessions granted was the re-introduction of the use of the German language, which was banned when the region became part of Italy. Town and street names are all sign-posted in both the German and Italian and most residents speak both languages.
We based ourselves in St. Georgen, a tiny ´settlement´ just 4 kilometres up the hill from the region´s major city of Bozen/Bolzano. Our typical Tirolean apartment was perched on the side of the hill, surrounded by vineyards and apple tress and overlooking Bozen, some 330 metres below.
We awoke each morning to the sound of church bells emanating from the quaint 11th Century church on the property, and to the chirping of birdsong.
Sud Tirol is a popular destination for walkers and mountain bike riders, and we enjoyed some of the many well-marked walking tracks in the area. What could be better than a Sunday walk through the forests that ends with a hearty traditional Tirolean meal at one of the many Gasthofs dotted throughout the region?
Bozen also offered us the chance to do some shopping in the well-preserved old town, and visitors can also take a look at the many medieval castles or wineries in the surrounding area, or visit the museum to see “Ötzi” the ice man, whose body was found deep in the alps some years ago. It is believed to be the oldest preserved body in the world.
When driving around Sud Tirol, you can only marvel at the innovation of builders, both past and present. Ancient churches, castles and farm houses stand in the most precarious of positions, with stunning views that no doubt afforded their owners the best defence against enemies in times gone by.
Modern engineering has seen roads emerge from nowhere, getting locals and visitors to places in only a few minutes that would once have taken hours, or even days! Mind you, not all roads are wide enough for two vehicles and frequently you´ll be required to back up to a wider spot in the road to let an oncoming car get past!
Bozen provided us with a relaxing few days in stunning surrounds, and whilst still being in Italy, we could have believed we were anywhere but!
Read more about the Sud Tirol region and its capital, Bozen >>
Next stop: Innsbruck and Zell am See in Austria. Read the blog here >>
© Holidays to Europe