10 things to do in Merano, Italy

10 things to do in Merano, Italy

This pretty town in South Tyrol makes you feel like you’re in Austria. Charming medieval castles that stand out in the Dolomite Alps, a succession of apple orchards and vineyards, the tradition of beer and strudel, and some road signs in Italian and German: all this is Merano, but more.

Medieval churches and Art Nouveau monuments can be found on the outskirts of the city along the northern bank of the Passer River. To admire the picturesque countryside, we recommend following the Sissi Trail to Trautmansdorf Castle. Give yourself time to relax at the spa, because Merano is, after all, a spa town.

1. Start your day in Piazza del Grano: the heart of Merano’s historic center

Piazza del Grano is a tree-lined and paved square in the heart of Merano’s historic center. From this square along a long series of medieval arcades you can reach some of the main attractions along the Passirio River. In front of the riverbed you will find Piazza Duomo, which played an important role in Merano’s past as a central public space for markets or social gatherings. You can reach Piazza del Grano in 10 minutes walk east of Merano train station along Via Mainardo.

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1. Start your day in Piazza del Grano: the heart of Merano’s historic center

2. Do your shopping in Via dei Portici: a walk through the historic center

The fourteenth-century arcades in the heart of Merano are the city’s largest and most beautiful shopping district. Almost a kilometer long, they stretch among tall medieval buildings from Piazza del Grano to Piazza Duomo and contain stores and boutiques for strolling as well as bars and restaurants for a pleasant stay.

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2. Do your shopping in Via dei Portici: a walk through the historic center

3. don’t miss the church of San Nicolo: visit the beautiful Gothic church of Merano

At the end of Via dei Portici is the Piazza Duomo with the church of San Nicolo. With its 83-meter bell tower, it is one of the oldest examples of Tyrolean Gothic architecture from the 14th century. Admission is free, and inside you can admire the many 18th-century frescoes and biblical sculptures around the Gothic choir, illuminated by sunlight streaming through large stained-glass windows. Visit the Palais Mamming Museum (tickets from €6) next to the church, which houses a collection of fine art and historical artifacts from the city, as well as curiosities such as an Egyptian mummy and the death mask of Napoleon.

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3. don’t miss the church of San Nicolo: visit the beautiful Gothic church of Merano

4. Castel Fontana: go up to the residence of Ezra Pound

This 13th century fortress in the heart of the Alps is about a quarter of an hour from Merano. It is known as the residence of the American poet Ezra Pound, who completed his cycle of “Songs” here. It is also home to an agricultural museum surrounded by vineyards, where you can discover some of the secrets of the art of winemaking. Admission is about 6 euros for adults (free for children under 6). Children will enjoy watching the many species of animals on the farm, such as mangalitza pigs or spiral-horned racca sheep.

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4. Castel Fontana: go up to the residence of Ezra Pound

5. Enjoy good wine in Rametz Castle: Amidst the beautiful vineyards of South Tyrol.

If you are passionate about wine and the history of winemaking, Castel Rametz is just for you . This museum and wine store in a medieval manor house is located in the hills about 10 minutes east of Merano. You can learn all about the different stages of wine making and even explore the medieval and modern cellars. If you happen to be in these parts between March and November, you can take a day tour with wine tasting (from about 16 euros).

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5. Enjoy good wine in Rametz Castle: Amidst the beautiful vineyards of South Tyrol.

6. Walk in the footsteps of Sissi in Trautmansdorf Castle: One of the most beautiful panoramic walks in Merano

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, better known as Sissi, stayed at Trauttmansdorf Castle during her treatment in Merano and liked to take long walks in the surroundings. You can follow them along the path known as the Sentiero di Sissi, starting from Merano. Descend from the Kurhaus Theater, cross the Roman Bridge and continue through cedar-studded parks and ancient noble residences until you reach the charming terraced gardens of the castle. The walk at a relaxed pace along the Sissy Trail lasts about an hour.

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6. Walk in the footsteps of Sissi in Trautmansdorf Castle: One of the most beautiful panoramic walks in Merano

7. Enjoy spa treatments in the thermal baths of Merano: indoor and outdoor thermal baths

Terme Merano, one of the main spas of the city, is a modern structure with indoor and outdoor thermal baths where you can relax with a breathtaking view. There are various saunas, some of which can be accessed unclothed. The 15 indoor pools are open all year round and include a salt pool with a water temperature of 35C, a whirlpool and a children’s pool. The outdoor pools are only open from May to September. Daily admission starts at €19.

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7. Enjoy spa treatments in the thermal baths of Merano: indoor and outdoor thermal baths

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8. End your day with a concert in the Kurhaus: shows and festivals at any time of the year

This imposing art nouveau building on the north bank of the Passyrio is the main theater of Merano. Every year the Kurhaus hosts spring and fall art exhibitions as well as summer jazz and classical music festivals such as the Merano Music Weeks, a month of symphonic and recital concerts. Tickets, priced from €35, are available at the waterfront box office. If you’re visiting in winter, don’t miss the famous Christmas fairs on the Lungo Passirio promenade.

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8. End your day with a concert in the Kurhaus: shows and festivals at any time of the year

9. Have a beer at Forsterbru: Good beer, good food and good company in Merano

At Forsterbru, a traditional restaurant and brewery in the center of town, you can enjoy an excellent mug in a typical Tyrolean setting. In good weather you can also sit on the terrace, which is usually heated as it is. Of course, the beer served is Forst, which has been brewed at the nearby Lagundo brewery since 1857. If you have an appetite, the menu offers a wide variety of South Tyrolean dishes such as schnitzel, polenta and risotto, as well as Mediterranean dishes.

10. Try a traditional dessert at Caf Knig: one of the best pastry shops in South Tyrol

The cuisine of Merano is an interesting blend of Austrian, German and Italian traditions . That is why here and everywhere else in South Tyrol you can try typically German specialities, such as strudel, sauerkraut and Schlutzkrappen (Tyrolean ravioli). At Café Knig, open since 1893, you’ll find a wide selection of delicious cakes, chocolates and pralines.

Their pastries and apple strudel have become legendary , but also try Torta di Merano, a signature chocolate dish from an old recipe book.

Weekend in Merano

Palm trees and olive groves in the valley, snow and glaciers in the mountains… This is how the scenery surrounding Merano, a charming town and thermal resort, the favorite place of Princess Elisabeth of Austria, whom friends and relatives called simply Sissi.

Like the natural surroundings of Merano, the town itself is equally contrasting: on one side of the Passirio River there are traditional houses and on the other side there are modern buildings. Surrounded by vineyards and apple orchards, the surrounding countryside is a perfect backdrop for walks along the irrigation canals, which are called “Waalweghe” in German. The side valleys, such as Val d’Ultimo and Val Passaria, offer very different views. Scattered here and there are traditional chalets, ancient guardians of local customs.

What to see

Courhaus

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The Courhaus, an elegant liberty-style palace, is a symbol of the town, overlooking the Passirio river with one side and the Corso Libertà with the other.

Its halls host cultural and social events, congresses, exhibitions, celebrations and concerts. The modern Courhaus is a harmonious fusion of Art Nouveau style and modern technology. Its construction began in the second half of the 19th century. The first building, the “flower pavilion”, was opened in 1874, and has remained virtually unchanged to this day.

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The Kurhaus was built to serve two purposes: as a spa and a place for entertaining guests. The Kurhaus was intended to serve two main purposes: as a health resort and a place of entertainment for guests, and that is why it had rooms for smoking, games, discussions, reading, a ladies’ room, concert and ball rooms, a stage and gambling rooms that were as exciting as a real casino. The Kurhaus, where many scientific congresses have always been held, has also contributed greatly to the fact that many people now associate Merano above all with congress tourism.

The new wing of the palace, called the Courthouse, was built according to a design by Friedrich Ohmann on December 31, 1914. The elegant foyer, spacious staircase, gallery, majestic ballroom and concert hall are an undeniable architectural masterpiece. Stucco, wrought iron gilding and frescoes adorn the entire building. The rotunda, surmounted by a dome with a tympanum decorated with dancing girls, has become the symbol of the whole palace.

Historical Thermae

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The former “Physiotherapy Center” is located in via Huber. Once built in 1907 to a design by the Bavarian architect Max Langheinrich, it was Merano’s main thermal complex, bringing it to an international level in therapeutic tourism. The three-storey building is topped by a dome, the entrance is decorated with an elegant semi-circular portico and the second floor is reached by a marble staircase with a black iron railing. A massive wooden chandelier hangs from the ceiling, decorated with full-length statues of Tyrolean men in traditional dress. On the second floor is the waiting room, and in the corridor are the entrance doors to the treatment rooms, now converted for other purposes.

Puccini Theatre.

The theater was built in 1900, designed by the architect Martin Dulfer, one of the most original representatives of Art Nouveau, as Art Nouveau was called in German.

Despite numerous deviations from the original design during construction, the building fully expresses the philosophy of eclecticism, fashionable in Bavaria when the architect studied there. Marble decorations adorn both the exterior and the interiors of the building. Since 1937 the theater is named after Giacomo Puccini, who lived in Merano in 1923.

The historic center of Merano

The Via dei Portici, the street connecting Piazza Duomo and Piazza Grano, was built in 1200 by the Tyrolean Count Mainardo II.

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The facades of the houses of the center, although built in different epochs, have a common feature – the characteristic projections on which are the porticoes. The long vaulted corridor, 400 meters long, is supported by stone columns. The layout of the traditional buildings with staircases, courtyards and mansard windows is quite beautiful. Locals still call the porticos differently: “Portici del fiume” on the Passirio promenade, “Portici della Montagna” overlooking Monte Benedetto; “Portici inferiori” and “Portici superiori” are separated by the Via Cassa di Risparmio.

Via dei Portici is the main shopping street of Merano. Here you can find everything from fabric and food to boutiques, restaurants and bars where you can take a break from shopping with a cup of cappuccino.

Empress Sissy’s itinerary.

The Passirio River divides Merano into two parts. In winter it is worth a walk along its right bank near the historic center. The first section starts from the Posta Bridge (“Ponte della Posta”) and ends with the Teatro Bridge (“Ponte del Teatro”). The second is a continuation of the first and ends at the Iron Bridge (“Ponte del Ferro”). The first section is interesting with artistically decorated flowerbeds, palm trees, ice-cream parlors and simple cafes. From here, the Courthouse with its Art Nouveau architecture looks particularly spectacular. The second part of the route leads to the arrow where the Passirio flows into the Adige. In this place, well protected from the wind, there are many old buildings and it is very sunny. You can continue the walk by walking through the covered gallery “Vandelhalle”. It contains an art gallery with views of Alto Adige and busts of the city’s public figures.

The promenade on the other side of the river is planted with Lebanese cedars, wellingtons, poplars and pines that give shelter in the summer heat. That is why it is also called the “Summer Quay”. At its beginning is the so-called “Sissi Park”, in which there is an elegant marble statue of Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

The Tappiner’s Route and Trail

This sun-drenched trail offers amazing views of the basin in which Merano is located.

The trail was built and donated to the town by Franz Tappeiner, physician and scientist, a native of Val Venosta and a passionate apologist for Merano tourism. The route is a continuation of the Guilf trail (“Passejata Guilf”) and follows the profile of Monte Benedetto, ending in Quarazza. The total length is 4 km. It can be accessed in different ways from Merano: from the via Galileo behind the cathedral, from the “Salita Silvana” up the Via Verdi, from Castel S. Zeno and from the quays. Along the route you will find cork oaks, eucalyptus, Mediterranean pines, agave, olive trees and exotic palms, bamboos and cacti, in addition to the typical local plants.

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Next to the trail in 2002, an aromatic herb park was built, where about 230 different species of aromatic herbs and plants are cultivated. Signs with names will help you identify each plant. There are ten telescopes on the trail, aimed at different buildings in and around the city. The telescopes are one of thirty observation sites on the route, which is called Architecture in Focus.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Merano is a living tradition and centuries-old culture. Many tourists who come to a particular place try to comprehend its spirit through traditional cuisine. Merano is considered the apple capital of Alto Adige: they are used to make the famous strudel and natural cosmetics.

Only grapes can compete with apples, many varieties of which are used to produce quality wines and grappes. The famous beer “Forst” is brewed in Lagundo, a town just a few kilometers from Merano.

The most famous local product is Späck, protected by the IGP Sudtirol quality label (patented geographical name). In addition to späck, many other dishes are protected by this mark (above all, “kanederli”, or dumplings). Local bread is baked from different grains and seeds according to traditional recipes. “Schuttelbrot” is crispy rye bread, and “Paarl” is bread made of rye and wheat flour with fennel and cumin seeds.

A story about the local cuisine would be incomplete without mentioning milk and dairy products, butter and yogurt, honey, forest berries, jams and aromatic herbs. All local products can be bought in stores and supermarkets, grocery boutiques and markets.

How to get there

By plane The nearest airport is in Verona, Bolzano, Bergamo and Innsbruck. Then you should take a bus or train.

By train Main lines: Milan – Verona – Bolzano – Brennero Venice – Verona – Bolzano – Brennero Rome – Bologna – Verona – Bolzano – Brennero Fast train: Rome – Bolzano Regional trains: Bolzano – Merano (at least once an hour)

By car From south – exit Bolzano sud (at the fork with Bolzano-Merano freeway) – A22 Brennero From west – Passo Resia – SS 40 – Passo dello Stelvio – SS 38 (only in summer) From east – Passo Monte Croce (entrance to Val Pusteria, SS 49) – Via Val di Landro (entrance to Val Pusteria, SS 49)

Contact

Merano Accommodation Agency Corso Libertà, 45 39012 Merano – ITALIA E-mail: [email protected] Tel: +39 0473 27 20 00

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