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Cultural crafts in your hands

Living crafts in South Tyrol

South Tyrolean crafts have often been the result of a centuries-old history and toilsome peasant life. And today, the disciplines of craftmanship are still kept alive by recent generations. Working with our hands is part of our everyday life, and it therefore shapes our identity and professional profile. Whether it is construction, carpentry, building technology or the textile industry, we South Tyroleans, owe it to generations of skilled master craftsmen, who with knowledge and enthusiasm, have succeeded in passing their passion on future generations. A spirit of innovation, clever entrepreneurship and an overwhelming desire to give our best, have all been driving forces for local artisans eager to shape our region in the most beautiful way.


Then as now, homemade and quality are at the forefront.

Between 1800-1900, craftsmanship had its highest point in South Tyrol. Not only the specialist craftsmen from the cities and market towns were often engaged in  crafts, but also farmers. For instance, the so-called “Kleinhäusler” were smallholders who owned little to no property and usually practiced a craft to make a living.

Besides woodcarving, which is still ubiquitous in the Dolomites region of Val Gardena, other ancient crafts like quill embroidery, lace-making and wool processing are practiced by South Tyroleans. South Tyrol’s craftsmen still persuade with their high-quality products and search for new solutions.

The architecture of master craftsmen

There cannot be innovation without high-quality craftsmanship. The futuristic design of a whiskey distillery, boldly shaped structures of climbing walls and sustainable hotels prove it exhaustingly. These works of art merge into the landscape of South Tyrol making it even more diversified- in the mountains or in the midst of palm trees and cypresses. Winner of several awards, designed by local architects and put up by skilled craftsmen and women, each building is worth seeing.

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Experts at work

Young people who want to learn a skilled trade must embark on a dual education system in South Tyrol, which combines apprenticeships and learning at school. The perfect combination of theory and practice provides students with a hands-on experience for their first offers in the job market. Moreover, it’s an educational opportunity that contributes significantly to the economic growth of the region.


The wood sculpture

Wood sculpture in South Tyrol has a 400-year tradition and its origins in Val Gardena. 

Around 1850, up to 2,500 people in Val Gardena, i.e. every second inhabitant of the valley, worked in this handicraft. In addition to nativity scenes and figures of saints, animal figures were soon added, which led to sales in Europe and America. A famous export is the Val Gardena jointed doll ‘Dutch Doll’, which got its name from the Dutch port from which it was shipped overseas. The Val Gardena school first developed in 1872. Today, the Cademia Vocational School for Arts and Crafts and Art High School, which attracts artists from all over the world, trains aspiring handicraft artists. The First World War and the world economic crisis caused the Val Gardena toy industry to collapse. Soon after, the art or craft question arose in Val Gardena for the first time. In 1994, Val Gardena’s sculptors, barrel painters and ornamental sculptors formed the Unika association. The unique handmade pieces are exhibited at the annual UNIKA Art Fair. Do you know the difference between wood carving and wood sculpture? Carving involves re-carving what is already there, whereas wood sculpting involves the entire creative process from design to completion of a unique artefact. 

Discover the South Tyrolean wood sculptors with trademarks

Would you like to find out what drives our South Tyrolean wood sculptors? It is their love and passion for wood as well as for the centuries-old tradition of wood sculpture. This handicraft is most widespread in Val Gardena. It has been celebrated here for generations.

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Figure poet

Life-size, human-like figures carved in wood, bronze, plaster, doused with resin, charred or frayed. His sculptures are exhibited in a spacious hall between woodpiles and large rootstocks.

Bildhauer Aron Demetz arbeitet in seinem Atelier an einem Kunstwerk.

The farmers' products

Farm handicrafts

For centuries, handicrafts played an important role on South Tyrol's farms, until this tradition was increasingly pushed into the background. The quality "Red Rooster" brand for the South Tyrolean Farmers' Union brings it to life and creates a valuable source of additional income for the farming families with the ‘Rural Handicraft’ quality seal.

Wool, wood and egg. From these natural materials, the skilful farmers produce precious, unique items. Choose from custom-made seat cushions and hand-knotted wool rugs as well as wood, woodturning and wickerwork, such as sculptures made from reclaimed wood and woven baskets. Eggs, or rather their shells, are also adorned with elaborate decorations: finely dyed and carved by countrywomen, the eggs are transformed into cheerful ambassadors of the rural world.

Artful and handmade

For everyday use or fun

For a long time, South Tyrol's farmers had a self-sufficient living. Nearly all they needed, was produced by them. They spun, braided, embroidered with quills, sewed, knitted and carved. That's how utilitarian objects such as baskets, woolen stockings, felted clothing, but also decorative nativity figures and accessories for the traditional South Tyrolean holiday clothing were created.

South Tyrol has always had arts and crafts. Artists created remarkable single pieces that reflected their own designs: gold and silver jewelry, carved wooden sculptures or decorated entrance gates.

Products from craftsmen and artists' centers were in high demand, and thereby maintained economic stability in many valleys. For instance, jewelry making in Meran/Merano and lacemaking in Tauferer Ahrntal/ Valle Aurina e Val di Tures valleys are still playing a prominent role in the economic development of the region.


Wood carving

Cook or die

Knives and accessories

Armin Terzer
Armin Terzer





klaus peterlin
klaus peterlin

Demetz Patrick

Wood carving


Wood carving

Draxl Design

Wood products

Folio Verlag



Artisan weaving

Grödner Puppe

Wood carving


Wood products




Wood watches and accessories



Artisan weaving

Schnalser Säge

Wood products


Peacock-quill embroidery




Wood purses

IDM Südtirol/Alex Filz
IDM Südtirol/Alex Filz smg02878alfi


Sheep’s wool products

IDM Südtirol-Alto Adige/Frieder Blickle
IDM Südtirol-Alto Adige/Frieder Blickle Höhenweg im Vinschgau


Glass artefacts


Wood carving

sarnThaler Blattgold

Peacock-quill embroidery

Demi Art

Wood carving

Schmid von Bosio


Zacher Haunold

Felt products

Andreas Comploj

Wood carving

G. Comploj - Soplases

Wood carving


Franco Comploj

Wood carving

Bobbin lace

Women's art

The history of lacemaking in South Tyrol began in 1893 in the Ahrntal valley with the shutdown of the copper mine in Prettau/Predoi. Women turned lacemaking in their profession to restore the economy. With the help of the village priest and support from wealthy mine owners, three talented lace makers were sent to Vienna to be trained. In 1894, a bobbin lace school was founded in Prettau, where craft was passed on to the women in the valley. Soon the imperial and royal society became one of the regular customers of the resourceful valley of  lace makers, the Ahrntal.

After the First World War had separated South Tyrol from Austria and thus from Bohemia as a supplier of raw materials, it was not until the 1930s that lace-making was resumed, now with Milanese thread. 

Quill embroidery

An elegant adornment

Whereas, in the past, this elaborate manual work was mostly just a sideline for farmers and saddlers, today it is a recognised profession with a five-year apprenticeship. Nowadays, in South Tyrol, it is cultivated by half a dozen craftsmen. The centre for peacock-quill embroidery is the Sarntal valley, north of Bolzano/Bozen. The white feather shafts come from the tail feathers of the male peacock. These are split and partially coloured. These narrow, shiny stripes are then embroidered on (usually black) leather following a pattern. In addition to traditional ornamentation, popular motifs are monograms, coats of arms and name prints on traditional costume pieces, wallets and handbags. 

Experience lacemaking

Are you fascinated by the history of the bobbin lacemaking? Then we recommend a visit to the Prettau bobbin lace association. There are regular bobbin lace demonstrations and exhibitions here, as well as in the Grain Store Mining Museum in Steinhaus/Cadipietra, the Traditional Costume Museum and the Nature Park Visitor Centre in Kasern/Casere.

The art of gold and silversmithing

Making jewellery and objects from precious metals is one of the oldest professions in the metal trade - and also deeply rooted in South Tyrol’s history. 

Did you know that a considerable number of goldsmiths and silversmiths settled in Meran/Merano around 1800? Wealthy guests holidayed here because of the Mediterranean flair – and subsequently renowned jewellery workshops and schools were established in Meran, where apprentices from all over South Tyrol were taught. With the best training, they soon gained an international presence. Today, there is still a vibrant young creative scene that produces unrivalled jewellery, such as diamond-studded falcon hoods or unique pieces made of meranith, a lava-like stone that can only be found locally.

In the 1950s, Anton Frühauf from Meran made jewellery history after attracting the attention of experts with his unusual creations inspired by nature. A jewellery designer from the family of imperial and royal court jewellers, he is considered one of the pioneers of modern European jewellery design. 

Discover the South Tyrolean gold and silversmiths

Handmade jewellery is special, because each piece is unique. Would you like to be inspired or are you looking for unusual gems? Then we fully recommend a visit to one of our jewellery manufacturers in South Tyrol.

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Wool processing

South Tyrol's sheep give their best

The Tyrolean, black-brown mountain sheep, and Villnöss sheep supply a prestigious wool. How is their wool obtained? Washed, combed, and spun into a thread it is then knitted or weaved. In felting, the wool hairs are treated with warm water and soap, then joined together by the mechanical pressure from fulling to form a solid fabric, like the well-known loden fabric, which is first woven and only then rolled. The loden coat is paired with the ‘Sarner Jangger’, a traditional jacket from the Sarntal valley, which is knitted very tightly and thus keeps you particularly warm. Its characteristic features are its brightly coloured hem and deer antler buttons.


Custom made or repaired

People wearing the South Tyrolean traditional Tracht clothing also have matching feast day shoes. These are still made through many individual steps exclusively by hand. Each valley has its own traditional design, which is still followed today according to the old patterns. Whether embroidered using quills, edged with a red velvet border or with coloured shoe laces: the shoes to match the traditional Tracht clothing are worn and cared for with pride. South Tyrol's shoemakers are just as busy repairing hiking, mountaineering and climbing boots as they are formaking traditional shoes. Due to South Tyroleans' sporty lifestyle, shoes are well worn – and therefore repaired and reused after wear and tear. 

The art of forging

High-quality custom made products

Once heated to a high temperature, wrought iron or bronze glows with heat. By then it can be shaped with heavy or very light blows. The same goes for brass or copper, though these materials can also be wrought when cool. Using hammer and anvil, artisan blacksmiths produce decorative and artistically designed articles for daily use, largely according to their own designs. As a result, wrought ironwork can be seen on almost every building in South Tyrol. Sophisticated gates, eclectic balcony and stair railings, decorative objects, grilles or special lighting fixtures adorn churches, forts and castles.

Barrel makers

Von der Eiche zum Weinfass

It's not surprising that the Bindergasse in Bolzano/Bozen bears this name: South Tyrol's binderies used to be located here, and there were quite a few. After goods were mainly transported in barrels in the early 20th century, the sustainable upswing in South Tyrolean wine-growing from 1980 onwards meant that barrel makers received plenty of orders. The vinification of wines by site, the reduction of yields in favour of quality and the introduction of modern methods provided a considerable boost to the quality of wine – and handmade oak barrels are still preferred to industrial barrels.


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