Thanks to its diverse cultural past, street signs in Italy's northernmost province are bilingual or even trilingual. By the same token, a restaurant menu might feature South Tyrolean Schlutzkrapfen ravioli alongside Italian pasta dishes. One might also hear locals chatting in different languages, talking about the same topic at the same time. For generations, German, Italian and Ladin speakers have lived side by side and with each other in this small province. A total of over 40 different dialects of the South Bavarian inflected dialect are spoken in the various villages and valleys. Italian is the predominate language in Bolzano/Bozen, Meran/Merano and in the south of the country, but only since South Tyrol passed from Austria to Italy after World War I. South Tyrol's original language is Ladin, which is over 1,000 years old. This Rhaeto-Romanic language is spoken by about three percent of the population in the Val Badia valley and Val Gardena region.
All three language groups in South Tyrol have their own unique history. They have, in turn, shaped the unique South Tyrolean way of life. Experience this melting pot while strolling through the South Tyrol's capital city, attending a concert of Tyrolean brass band music or hiking in the Dolomite valleys, where you may be greeted with "Bun dé."