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Culturonda®: 12 routes to discovering culture and life in South Tyrol

Nature has had a formidable effect on shaping this region and its people. Here all views emanate from the mountain prospect. Vistas and thinking. Tradition and progress are intertwined. 500,000 people live here: Germans, Italians, Ladins. Contrasts in landscape and culture keep South Tyrol vibrant. Using 12 themes, Culturonda® introduces you to this region so rich in diversity, its people, their way of life and reveals how culture and joie de vivre are inextricable.

Castles & manors

Schloss Tirol in Südtirol

Castles and manor houses worth visiting

Tirol Castle

Tirol Castle is the ancestral home of the Counts of Tirol. In 1270 Count Meinhard II successfully opposes the prince bishops in the region and unifies it under his name. The Count is adroit, exacts payment for his favours and only allows goods to pass through his realm on payment of tolls and duties. This proved lucrative, for anybody travelling between the Germanic north and Italy had to pass through Tyrol. Today the castle accommodates a museum dedicated to the history of Tyrol and South Tyrol. more...

South Tyrol’s ‘illustrated’ castle

The owners of Roncolo/Runkelstein Castle near Bolzano/Bozen had their living quarters painted with scenes from everyday courtly life and literature in an abundance unique in 15th century Europe.

Roncolo/Runkelstein Castle

Garden landscapes

The gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle

Not hot, not harsh, the air in Merano/Meran is just right. From 1850 spa guests from all over Europe congregated in Merano, by then a cosmopolitan spa resort. Empress Elisabeth of Austria spent two winters here at Trauttmansdorff Castle. The castle gardens have been transformed into a botanical garden with some 5,400 plants from all over the world and eleven pavilions designed by artists. The complex is one of Europe’s six most impressive gardens. The castle accommodates the ‘Touriseum’ which presents 200 years of Alpine tourism history more...

In the steps of Empress Elisabeth

The nostalgic Sissi (Empress Elisabeth) route from Trauttmansdorff to the Merano therman baths complex passes various stations recalling the Empress in the spa town. Stop and reflect for a moment and you immediately sense the aura of the belle époque.

The Empress’s favourite spots

Country & people

German, Italian, Ladin

German, Italian and Ladin speakers make up the population in South Tyrol. In their everyday dealings German townspeople and farmers converse in over 40 patois deriving from southern Austro-Bavarian dialects. Italian is spoken mostly in Bolzano/Bozen, Merano/Meran and in the south of the region. South Tyrol’s oldest language goes back to Roman times. It is called Ladin and is the first language of 18,000 inhabitants of the Val Badia and Val Gardena/Gröden. All three language groups have their own customs and histories. Over time the three cultures have permeated each other to produce a unique South Tyrolean savoir vivre more...

A stroll around Bolzano/Bozen

Saunter from the Bolzano town hall along the medieval arcades (Lauben), across the Talvera/Talfer bridge to the Piazza Mazzini, listen how the discussions in the town alternate between the German and Italian savoir vivre.

More insights into life in Bolzano

Customs & tradition

Brass and wood

Weather proverbs, arcane winter customs, driving out evil spirits: traditions and customs throughout the farming year are linked to the seasons, church festivities and life on the high pastures. Brass band music often sets the tone. 10,000 men and women play in 211 music bands where every second musician is under 30 years old. Many South Tyroleans own traditional costume; when it is worn it provides a wealth of information on a person’s origin and status. For example in Val Sarentino/Sarntal and Val Pusteria/Pustertal, single or married? South Tyroleans also reveal deftness in their artistic and skilled handicrafts, above all lace-makers in the Val Aurina/Ahrntal and the wood carvers in Val Gardena/Gröden. more...


Mountain farmsteads

The highest human settlements in South Tyrol

Over 10,000 people live here on Alpine farms, often in extremely steep and arduous terrain where their main sources of income are livestock farming and hay production. More than half of these farmsteads are at elevations exceeding 4,950 ft/1,500 m. Very few people abandon their farmsteads. Every niche of their inherited land is worked, Customs and traditions in these Alpine regions are still very much alive and have survived through the generations because of their persisting relevance. Without these mountain farmers’ toil here would be no cultivated landscapes at such altitudes. more...

Health treatments from the meadows

Farming people have long known about the curative and relaxing properties of mountain hay. Today hay baths can be indulged in all year round. You will find a list of establishments offering hay baths

more

South Tyrol’s cuisine

Knödel and spaghetti

In South Tyrol it is usual to Alpine and Mediterranean ingredients in the same dish or at least on a menu card. Buckwheat and mountain herbs are used as much as rosemary and parmesan. South Tyrol’s chefs are deft at blending ingredients to produce the finest culinary delights. The region’s gastronomic firmament is embellished with awards and Michelin stars found in a concentration unmatched by anywhere else in Europe. The boast top awards and Michelin stars found. The chefs de cuisine draw on the essentials: fresh ingredients from their own garden and a flair for harmoniously combining elements of the Italian, Ladin and Tyrolean cuisines. more...

The fifth season

The ‘Törggele’ time lasts from October to the Advent period. It involves a walk up to a mountain farmstead called a ‘Buschenschank’ to taste the new wine and savour regional fare such as barley soup, boiled pork, Knödel dumplings and to finish, pastries and roasted chestnuts.

More on Törggelen


Mountain mine experience

Europe’s highest mountain mines

The darkness of the galleries and the light flickering from their torches characterised the lives of the miners. For centuries miners toiled here to extract copper, lead, zinc and silver. Their villages grew up above ground and developed their very own way of life and culture. In the Monteneve mine near Vipiteno/Sterzing, Europe’s highest, they worked at elevations exceeding 6,600 ft/2,000 m. Today South Tyrol’s ‘underworld’ can be explored in safety, wearing a helmet and head lamp. The main street of Lasa/Laas in the Val Venosta/Vinschgau valley is paved in white. The much coveted Lasa marble is still mined today. It is regarded as the most weather-resistant white marble in the world. In the Lasa valley experienced hikers can enjoy the intricate route taken by the marble itself, leading from the quarry to the factory. more...

Lasa/Laas Marble

Marble is much more than simply a stone. It is a beautiful, natural wonder which has remained hidden under the earth’s surface for centuries. In contrast to other marbles, Lasa marble is particularly resistant to frost and other adverse weather conditions.

more

Monasteries and convents

The Novacella/Neustift Canons Regular monastery

When Hartmann the Bishop of Bressanone/Brixen decided to build a monastery here it was an inhospitable, marshy place. Hartmann thought of the travellers passing through Tyrol who would be glad of finding lodgings, and the industrious monks who immediately planted the hillsides with vineyards. Today the monastery is still run by Augustinian Canons Regular, the vineyards are Italy’s northernmost and their wines – mainly white – are regularly showered with awards. The library contains magnificent historical manuscripts and 365 putti ‘live’ in the basilica. Apparently no two are alike. more...

From monastery to monastery

It is called the hours trail leading between the monastery of St Johann/Müstair (a UNESCO World Heritage monastery) and the Monte Maria/Marienberg. It is the perfect place to forget the routine of everyday life, and immerse yourself in the culture and spirituality of the upper Val Venosta/Vinschgau valley.


Medieval townscapes

Glorenza/Glurns or the quintessential town

Around 1300: Count Meinhard II and ther Bischop of Chur jostle for power in Val Venosta/Vinschgau. The Count conferred market rights on Glorenza, thereby depriving the Bishop’s market in Müstair of traders. The plan of turning Glorenza into a flourishing trading town did not bear fruit: the new trail through the Eisack Gorge made Brenner a more attractive alternative route across the Alps. It is now the smallest town in the Alps. Glorenza retains its historical character and is an art-architectural gem. It is enclosed by a perfectly preserved wall built in the 16th century with old streets, burgher houses and pretty arcaded walkways. more...


Wine

Vernatsch, Lagrein, Gewürztraminer

South Tyrol enjoys a profile as a winegrowing region far out of proportion to its size. The wines also receive far more than their fair share of awards. 98.8 percent of the vineyard area is protected by strict DOC regulations. The white wines have proved especially successful internationally. The alternation between hot days and cool nights imbues them with strong, fruity aromas and mouth-watering acidity. Wine has been growing here for 2,500 years and were Augustus Caesar’s favourite tipple. Lagrein, Vernatsch and Gewürztraminer are authentic South Tyrolean varieties and have been documented here since the Middle Ages. more...

Caldaro/Kaltern – South Tyrol’s best-known wine village

Discover the history of wine and of courtyards, wine estate manor houses, squares and names on a saunter around the village, Visit wein.kaltern for information, recommended wine estates and cellars, and restaurants.

Wein.kaltern

History

Ötzi – the man from the glacier

Blue eyes, dark hair, 5 ¼ feet/1.6 metres tall, muscular: a description of Ötzi when he was murdered 5,300 years ago and was immediately consumed by the Similaun glacier. It happened in spring or early summer and it probably snowed shortly afterwards. The body was freeze-dried and the glacier mummy became hermetically sealed. Since his discovery in 1991 research on Ötzi has been running at full steam. His new home is an air conditioned cell in the South Tyrolean Archaeological Museum in Bolzano/Bozen where he is preserved behind armoured glass at minus 6 degrees centigrade. His clothes, weapons and tools provide insight into everyday life in the Alps in the pre-Bronze Age. more...

Ötzi‘s favourite dishes

On request catering establishments in the Val Senales/Schnalstal are delighted to create dishes using ingredients which Ötzi would have been familiar with and appreciated: stinging nettle soup, a corn fry-up, lentil salad.

Restaurants with Ötzi dishes on the menu

Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage

The pale mountains

When the Dolomites were still nameless they were called the ‘pale mountains’, for they are more pallid than the surrounding peaks. In 1788 scientists discovered that the rocks consisted of limestone containing magnesium: they emerged as fossilised algae and coral from the warm Tethys ocean. They were named after the geologist Déodat de Dolomieu and soon became popular and their legends famous. Since 2009 they have been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. more...


Other items that may interest you

Messner Mountain Museum Ripa

News & articles

Messner’s MMM Ripa

The fifth and final museum in Reinhold Messner‘s mountain museum project is finally open. The ... more...

33 x South Tyrolean Classics by Heinrich Gasteiger, Gerhard Wieser, Helmut Bachmann

Book recommendation

33 x South Tyrolean Classics

South Tyrol enthusiasts are well-acquainted the region's culinary delights, but do you know how to ... more...

Sculpture Walk Trail

Walking & hiking

Sculputure Walk Trail

Anyone looking to combine the pleasure of the countryside with art appreciation will just love this ... more...

Sauna and whirlpool in the tree house in the Caravan Park Sesto/Sexten

News & articles

Sauna in a tree house

South Tyrol’s first spa room high above the ground has recently been opened to guests of the ... more...


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Culturonda® South Tyrol / Südtirol

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