At the end of the First World War, South Tyrol was ceded by the victorious powers to their ally Italy. The region had previously belonged to Austria for over five centuries. What followed were Mussolini’s policy of Italianisation, the Option Agreement, the years of bombing, numerous protest rallies and hard political power struggles with the government in Rome. In 1972, the second South Tyrolean Autonomy Statute for the better protection of South Tyroleans came into force, which can now be fully implemented 20 years later. Today South Tyrol is an exemplary model for an autonomy of ethnic minorities.
South Tyrol’s most significant historical facts:
- The most famous iceman in the world, Ötzi, was found on the Schnalstaler Gletscher glacier, providing insights into the world 3,200 years before Christ when the settlement of small side valleys began.
- From 400 BC to the 5th century AD, South Tyrol was under the control of Rhaetians and Romans. The Ladin language is a remnant of this time and is still spoken in the Val Badia/Gadertal and Val Gardena/Gröden valleys.
- As a bridge between the Germanic north and the Italian south with two Alpine passes, the region has long been of great strategic importance. Trade routes, splendid stately residences, market squares, and of course more than 800 fortresses and castles are historical reminders of this time.
- Until 1918, South Tyrol had belonged to the county of Tyrol, and therefore the Habsburg empire, for over 550 years. This period heavily influenced South Tyrol’s culture, architecture and cuisine.
- At the end of the First World War, South Tyrol was ceded to Italy. After years of a policy of Italianisation and harsh political power struggles, the second South Tyrolean Autonomy Statute for the better protection of South Tyroleans came into force in 1972. People of Italian, German and Ladin heritage now live here together in peace.