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Last updated : Nov 2007
Trentino and Alto Aldige
Trentino and Alto Aldige - TravelPuppy.com
These wholly mountainous regions located on the Swiss border straddle the valley of the River Isarco, which flows from the Brenner Pass, into the River Adige and on into the Mediterranean. Germanic and Italian cultures blend here to the extent that, towards the north, German is increasingly found as the first language. The Dolomites to the east are a range of distinctively craggy mountains, isolated to such an extent from both Italy and Switzerland that, in the more remote valleys, the inhabitants speak Ladin, an ancient Romance language not to much different to Latin. The area is traversed by clearly marked mountain paths and served by numerous hostels, making it an ideal area for hiking and climbing.


The principal town of Trentino is Trento, well worth visiting for its wealth of art works, gathered by the dynasty of princes who ruled the area between the 10th and 18th centuries. Many of these artistic acquisitions are viewable in the town’s museums, and include the Castello di Buonconsiglio, Museo Diocesano Trentino and the Museo Provinciale d’Arte.

Alto Adige

Bolzano is the principal town of Alto Aldige, further north. A somewhat austere commercial town, it appears as an unlikely portal to one of the most extraordinary panoramic drives in Italy, the mountain route through the Dolomites to Cortina d’Ampezzo called La Grande Strada delle Dolomiti. Upon entering the Val d’Ega, at the start of the route, the scenery is suddenly lush with foliage and rocks as the light seeps through the forest trees. About 20km (12 miles) from the beginning of the route is Lake Carezza, a beautiful limpid pool of bright green water reflecting the trees and mountains surrounding it. This is just the beginning of an awe-inspiring passage through the Dolomites and its small alpine towns, ski resorts and endless panoramas of craggy peaks and tree-clad mountainsides.

One of the most famous mountain resorts and the second-largest town in this region is Merano, 28km (17 miles) north of Bolzano. Popular for its spas, thermal waters and moderate climate with the temperature remaining above freezing all winter, despite its close proximity to a range of snow-laden ski slopes, it is also visually rewarding, with extensive landscaped gardens and a charming mixture of architectural styles from Gothic to Art Nouveau. The Merano Valley is dotted with historic castles, several of which have been transformed into charming castle hotels.