Bolzano, despite the fact that such a small town, it seems to me, has some magical power. Because for three days he turned off my brain completely. And the story was born in terrible agony, because the pictures are still before my eyes, but to put these images into words – no, he does not want to. Immediately click – and not a single thought in his head, they all scattered, like guinea pigs who smelled that now they will be mercilessly dissected. Or maybe it is because we have had an extraordinary affinity of souls from the very first moment, and there is absolutely no need to decompose harmony with algebra…
Thoughts, too, need rest; both to thoughts and from thoughts, and if this is your case, too, you are welcome here. Little Bolzano is a totally meditative place. Everything is close. Five minutes from the train station and you’re in the hotel. Five minutes – this is even with a discount on imposing slowness of the suitcase bouncing on the cobblestone sidewalk. And it even feels a little awkward with that falsetto rattling sound that only those four little plastic wheels are capable of making…
Here in Bolzano, for the first time in years, I caught myself in a long-forgotten sensation from the olden days, when package holiday tours still happened in my life. I call it the “rookie effect,” when you’ve just walked into the resort world, you’re still in jeans and with a suitcase, and all the people in shorts and flip-flops, relaxed in summer and sunshine, are walking toward you. And I want to run to the hotel, change the city camouflage for something more appropriate to the occasion, put sunglasses on your nose and go, at last, to taste this life with a spoon.
In the five minutes it took us to walk from the train station to our apartment, everything went out of my head. And stretched, eternally dissatisfied faces of border guards made in USSR, and compatriots barking at the airport, and noisy multilingual international crowd at Milano Centrale – all impressions of the day fell off, like dried onion peels, and scattered in the wind. Bolzano welcomed me into its arms.
We settled in the very center, on Dr. Josef Streiter, in the nicest of apartments, Guesthouse Bauzanum Streiter. I won’t describe it here, if you are interested – the information on Bookings is correct. This is the best place for those who like to be always in the center and for the sake of this are ready to put up with some inconveniences like the street coming alive at six in the morning under the windows. However, this did not prevent me sweetly sleep until nine:)
Our side street, however, as well as all the surrounding streets, alleys, was very good for its relaxed, spa life. All the more or less decent cafes in such a blessed climate necessarily put tables on the street. The European culture of these outdoor street cafes adds to the pleasantness and coziness of any cityscape – that’s for sure. And hour-long, two-hour, three-hour wine and coffee parties, sedate and measured, with a favorite book or a fresh newspaper, with obligatory conversations with the waiter – whatever language of the world you call them, no matter art de vivre or dolce vita – their essence is the same, the enjoyment of life in all its manifestations.
For those who are looking for beauty in Bolzano, not only spiritual but also quite carnal, I highly recommend checking out the local marketplace in Piazza delle Erbe. I myself love markets and try not to miss them anywhere – and not only because I’m terribly fond of good food. Gastronomy is as inseparable a part of culture as museums and cathedrals, but what’s especially pleasant is that you can take a piece of this culture with you in your suitcase. That’s why I always go to the local markets. And this one is also working here since 1295… can you imagine how old it is?
The cuisine of Trentino, as well as that of any border region similar to it, is a curious mix of Italian and Austrian culinary traditions. In principle, with some hindsight, but we can still say that the Austrian element prevails. It is quite probable that you will find tiramisu on the menu, but you will definitely find the classical strudel.
Familiar to us Italian food – pizza, pasta, ossobuco, risotto, etc. – is also present in Bolzano, with the only difference that the variety of pasta on the menu will not be amazing, and will be limited to three or four items. One of which will definitely be “in the local style” – with pieces of spätzle.
Späck from Alto Adige is just the sort of thing that makes a visit to the market in Piazza delle Erbe worthwhile. It’s not just raw meat – it’s spicy smoked raw meat, a product unique to this particular region. And it’s a prime example of how a region with “dual citizenship” has accumulated the gastronomic traditions of both its parents. In the North, in Germanic lands, meat is mainly smoked, in the South, in Italy – dried. As a result of the mixing of bloods, the Tyrolean Späck – meat that is first salted with lots of different spices, then cold-smoked, and after all that it is sent to cure for several months – was born.
The result is an absolutely marvelous product. The meat is lean, not very salty and has a wonderful flavor of pepper and juniper berries. I really wanted to take a piece of meat like this back home with me from Trentino. But, bearing in mind the exorbitant prices of, say, Spanish Jamon, I approached the counters with some apprehension. And it turned out that a piece of shepeck weighing about 400 grams costs only about 10 euros. I took two pieces with joy, especially since such meat can be stored for a long time.
Here is a little historical anecdote. During World War II, Adolf Hitler was nicknamed “the Tyrolean spy” in our journalism, thanks to the hand of the writer and journalist Ilya Ehrenburg. It is unlikely that this nickname had any real basis under it, such as the Fuhrer’s gastronomic preferences, most likely simply because a spik… is a spik. A spork, and nothing more. I hope that this story will not change your attitude to this wonderful product of Tyrolean gastronomy:)
Cheese lovers won’t leave here empty-handed either. Besides the super-famous Grana Padano, of which Trentino is one of the production regions, try the similar Grana Trentin. Or the Austrian Bergkäse. It’s softer in texture and more delicate in flavor than Grana. And for those who aren’t afraid to experiment – Puzzone di Moena, “stinky from Moena”. As the name suggests, this cheese smells strong and quite peculiar. Although, if you’ve tried French Epoise or Pont l’Eveque, it will be just a child’s prank for you:)
Somehow, right away, Bolzano became gastronomic, so let me try to tell you a little bit of its history. And for that, let’s turn left from Piazza delle Erbe, just behind Neptune. Italians have an inexplicable love for this god of sea depths, I do not know if there is a single city in Italy that is not decorated with a fountain of Neptune. So Bolzano got its own, but it’s a small town, so they gave out a modest Neptune.
But behind the modest Neptune begins the magnificent via dei Portici, the most beautiful and historic street of Bolzano. Such houses – cut by long galleries with arched arches – appeared here in the late Middle Ages. And later, despite the fact that the city was rebuilt many times, this peculiarity of the local architecture was carefully preserved.
Through via dei Portici is pleasant to take a walk in the rain or in the sun – the arcades will shelter you from any caprice of nature. And also because this is the main shopping area in Bolzano. To say that Bolzano is a Mecca for shopaholic, I can’t, but after all, this is Italy – you will not come back empty-handed, for the lovers of Italian fashion here are Coccinelle, Falconeri, Pollini, Max & Co…
When you walk here – keep your eyes open, and not only on the store windows, here starts some curious “passages”, narrow passages, leading through the thickness of the blocks of flats to the parallel streets. In the old days, houses in Bolzano were built on the Arab-Spanish principle – with patios inside, invisible from the streets. But houses with such “stuffing” spread wide, there was no space between them – so you had to make such gaps in order not to bypass the entire quarter, if you need to get to the next street.
On one of the streets next door I saw some interesting houses, as if molded of plasticine by a not very skillful child’s hand. Obviously, I rushed to take a picture. See the picture of the man with the bike? That’s not just standing there, he’s waiting for me to finish my work, so as not to spoil the picture. And he smiles at me with all his might, which must mean, “Don’t worry, Fräulein, or signorita, take your picture in peace, I’ll wait! I have nowhere to hurry here in this small town anyway. Of course, afterwards I thanked him in every language I knew. All the things I love about Europe, this is one of them. For that level of politeness and humanity, which we, unfortunately, still have to grow up to…
And the central square of Bolzano – Walterplatz – greeted us with the sounds of the waltz. And the spectacle of couples passionately twirling to the music. It turns out that on June 8 in Bolzano there was a waltz festival – only later I paid attention to posters everywhere. The atmosphere was simply amazing – happy faces of the dancers, happy faces of the audience and Schubert dissolving in the hot June evening…
The next day when we returned to Walterplatz there was exactly nothing similarly romantic about it, only the marble Walther bored lonely on his pedestal. This Walther was Walter von Vogelweide, the famous German Minnesinger and songwriter. At least he was a man of culture and art, and not some political shirt-fighter, whose marble and bronze shadows are so fond of decorating squares…
But the Duomo di Bolzano, which is right here on Walterplatz, is very good! A wonderful example of Northern Gothic, so textured and decorative, with a magnificent, lace-wrapped bell tower. And with a beautiful roof, covered with glossy, glittering in the sun green-gold tiles.
But it was the cathedral that was an embarrassment to me. First time in my life, really! But I completely forgot to change the settings of my camera after shooting in the bright sun. I tell you, Bolzano is great at turning off the brain, here’s an example:) In the end, all the photos from the cathedral were terribly dark, nothing can be made out. Well, what can you do, so some other time.
By the way, in northern Italy, as well as in France, catering workers sacredly honor the silent hour. We were late with lunch, because the first half of the day devoted to climbing the Zwartzespitze, about which I will tell you, and for some reason we decided to have lunch there, and returned into town. In the end it was already four o’clock, and all the restaurants greeted us saying that the kitchen had stopped working. And the only place that agreed to feed us was the Walther’s on this very square. I am very skeptical about restaurants in such places, but here it was quite decent and decent. At least, the pasta I was served was very good, and most importantly – this pasta was fresh and homemade.
But, in spite of all the watercolor beauty of the streets of Bolzano, the main attraction here, as it turns out, is nature. Nature has done everything to make this place on the map of the world not just beautiful but truly unforgettable. The mountains enclose Bolzano in a strong ring of their arms, surrounding it with a green amphitheater on all sides, and mankind has done everything it could, too, decorating this already idyllic landscape. Trentino is a region with a castle on every rock, and only around Bolzano are five of them within relative walking distance of the city center – Roncolo, Marecchio, Sant’Antonio, Flavon and Firmian.
Roncolo, or Runkelstein – here all names are spelled with a dash – is the most impressive of these five, and it is about three kilometers on foot from the center of Bolzano. My supervisors’ eyes, of course, were awfully attracted to Roncolo – if you look on the Internet, you’ll understand why… such a beauty! But the temperature in Bolzano that day was over 30 degrees and we estimated our strength after a day in the mountains, we decided no, we were not able to go another three kilometers through such a miserable place. We have already admired castles in Merano, so we can forgive ourselves this small weakness… And Roncolo will be one more jag in our memory to return to Bolzano.
Well, we made it to San Antonio Castle. Because the promenade that leads to it is just a paradise, my friends! In Bolzano, three mountain rivers – Adige, Isarco and Talvera – merge together, and along the Talvera-Talferbach a very decent-looking city park with bicycle lanes, playgrounds and all kinds of sports gadgets is laid out. At the foot of the park is the lush Talvera, with a walkway lined with acacia trees on top. You can get there if you take the opposite side of Via dei Portici from our old acquaintance Neptune.
Or do as we did – at Neptune we turned north and, passing the walls of the Franciscan monastery, we came to the Via Castel Roncolo. The buzz of Bolzano tourism does not reach here, the street is built up with private residences, mansions and villas, and a slice of their beautiful life can be seen behind the high fences. But you can also come across such textured ruins.
Bolzano (Italy) – everything about the city, the main attractions of Bolzano with photos and descriptions, the most interesting tourist routes on the map.
City of Bolzano (Italy)
Bolzano – the capital of the South Tyrol, a small town in Italy in a picturesque area of the Italian Alps in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige. The city is located south of the Val Adige in a very beautiful valley. Nature is probably the main and best attraction of Bolzano – rugged mountains, forests, beautiful valleys.
In Bolzano 25% of the population is German speaking. In German the city is called Bozen.
The outskirts of Bolzano
The city is crossed by the river Isarco, the river Adige flows to the south towards Verona. The climate is mild and comfortable. Although in winter there may be frosts and snowfalls. So if you go to Bolzano in cold weather – take some warm clothes.
Among the remarkable sights of Bolzano in terms of architecture – the old cathedral, the Mercantile Palace, the Church of Franciscan. The very architecture of the city is a bizarre mix of Italian, Austrian and Alpine architecture. In the vicinity of the city are beautiful castles – Novale, Flavon, Marecchio, Roncolo. Nearby is the beautiful little town of Renon.
The history of Bolzano goes back to the 12th century when the prince of Trento united the neighboring settlements and founded a market here.
In the second half of the 14th century, the city came under Habsburg rule. At that time Frederick III granted the city various privileges.
In the 15th and 16th centuries Bolzano became the economic and political center of the County of Tyrol, which contributed to its rapid development.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, thanks to significant immigration from southern Germany and Austria, the city grew in population, trade, industry and crafts developed.
The outskirts of Bolzano
After the French Revolution and the weakening of Austria, the city was annexed first to Bavaria and then to the Kingdom of Italy.
During the Napoleonic wars, the city became the capital of the Alto Adige region.
After the fall of Napoleon, Bolzano returned to the Austrian Empire (Austria-Hungary since 1866), in which it remained until 1918.
After World War II Bolzano became part of Italy. However, under an agreement between Italy and Austria, the autonomy of Trentino-Alto-Adige was created here with guarantees for the German-speaking minority.
How to get to Bolzano?
You can get to Bolzano by train and bus. You can see timetables and buy tickets here – http://www.trenitalia.com/
Attractions in Bolzano
The Duomo Maria Assunto is the cathedral in the heart of the city. It is a true gem of Romanesque and Gothic architecture from the 11th century. From the side of the square look out for one of the most beautiful Gothic portals in Tyrol, adorned with several statues. Inside the cathedral is a fresco from the fifteenth century. While exploring the cathedral, traces of an early Christian religious building (V-VI centuries) and then of a smaller medieval church (VIII-IX centuries) were discovered.
Duomo Maria Assunto
Marecchio Castle is a castle of the twelfth century, a stone’s throw from the historic center of Bolzano. It is located in a picturesque area surrounded by vineyards. We recommend appreciating the view of the castle from the Lungotalvera promenade. Address: Via Claudia de’ Medici, 12, 39100 Bolzano.
Castle Roncolo is a beautiful castle located north of Bolzano. Built in 1237 as the residence of the Lords of Vanga on a rock, the castle was renovated and enlarged in 2000. The castle has preserved splendid frescoes from the Middle Ages depicting scenes of court life, hunting episodes and jousting tournaments. Tickets can be bought in the kiosks.
The Franciscan Monastery is a real treasure in the historical center of Bolzano. The structure, built 800 years ago, is preserved in excellent condition. The monastery of the Franciscan Fathers is surrounded by a high wall of medieval origin. There is also a rare fresco from the fourteenth century. Address: Via Francescani 1 – 39100 Bolzano.
Friary of the Franciscans
The Church of San Giovanni is an ancient Romanesque church from the 12th century in Bolzano. The simple architecture of the main building is enhanced by the beautiful bell tower of the early fourteenth century. The interior is decorated by itinerant artists of the Giotto school.
Address: Vicolo S. Vicolo S. Giovanni, 39100 Bolzano Opening hours: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Church of San Giovanni
Sarentino is a commune in Italy in the province of Bolzano. This is a real jewel of South Tyrol – tiny towns interspersed with meadows, dense forests, hills and fields. Even today the local farmers continue to keep intact the landscape and the ancient customs.
Flavon Castle is a medieval castle from the 12th century. It offers a magnificent view of the Adige Valley and the city of Bolzano to the north (Plateau Salto, Val Sarentino). The castle is open to the public as a restaurant and as a place for parties and receptions. Address: Via Castel Flavon, 48, 39100 Bolzano.
The Castle of Flavon
Interesting tourist routes on the map
Bolzano on the map
€200 per tour
Hidden corners of Venice
Medieval, elegant, fragile – walk through the most authentic quarters of the city and comprehend its soul
€120 per excursion
Rome – a sightseeing tour of the major sites and the undiscovered ghetto
Trace the city’s path from Antiquity to modern times and learn about the inhabitants of the past and present