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South Tyrol, Italy

South Tyrol, Italy

Dominated by the magnificent Dolomites in the north of Italy high amongst the mountains lays this somewhat unique autonomous region of the South Tyrol. It was Austrian until after World War I. The capital is Bolzano, but hundreds of tiny picturesque villages and towns spread across the valleys and slopes. It has more German speakers than Italian. There is even one of the few areas in the world where they still speak Ladin (Latin). An unspoilt treasure that still seems to remain fairly untouched for the most part by an influx of foreign tourism.

 

SouthTyrol-02

Sleep

Only reached by one of the worlds oldest cable cars the wonderful Vigilius Mountain Resort in Lana is part of the Design Hotels Group™ that is an eco haven at 1500 metres of silence and relaxation. Ulrich Ladurner, Founder and local, describes ‘being a guest at Vigilius is more than just spending a few beautiful days: It means gaining new experiences and discovering new values’. Combining minimalist design, a soothing spa utilizing natural alpine products and a view across to the Dolomites, this is the ultimate nature enthusiast’s luxury escape.

www.vigilius.it

 

SouthTyrol-03

Snow

This area is a ski paradise and the Dolomites (Dolomiti) have fast gained a reputation as the ultimate powder snow destination in Europe for skiers and snow borders alike. Now a UNESCO NaturalWorld HeritageSite and absolutely stunning scenery, this is the place for snow to head to. Without the teeming crowds of the French & Swiss Alps it remains a pristine and fairly undiscovered destination, with Cortina already a firm favourite with the jetset. Head to the Alpe di Suisi for a little more remoteness. There are thirteen major ski resorts and 1200 kilometres that range from 1500 metres to 3000 that are sun drenched and dramatically beautiful.

 

SouthTyrol-06Shop

The Tyrolean look is definitely a unique one and whether you feel like packing some lederhosen or a Heidi inspired look then this is the place. Merano is a fairytale town with a magical Christmas market and a host of small boutique shops full of traditional treats and clothing. Wandering the small streets is like stepping back in time with the antique architecture and a beautiful walking trail around the town

 

Scenery

Hiking is a big thing in the Tyrolean hills during the summer and many towns like Merano have trails around the town following the flowing crystal waters of the river or meandering around art installations, taking in the landscape or cityscape of this area is beautiful. Driving up or taking the greener option of the cable car there are lots of walking trails for all abilities and ages. The clean mountain air of this area with low pollution levels and a lack of large towns and industries makes it the ideal place for older and younger travellers looking for a little eco escape.

A particularly picturesque route is up to the Church of Santa Caterina that can be used for sleighing in the winter and has horse stables and a restaurant for taking trails through the woods. There are plenty of traditional restaurants to stop for a drink or lunch in the numerous trails that dot the mountainside.

 

Schnitzel & Strudel

So even though we are officially in Italy the cusine is very much influenced by across the border. Schnitzel, Spatzel, Bratwurst and Goulash are more staples in this area than Italian food all topped off by a traditional apple strudel. This is the perfect pace to indulge in some Tyrolean cuisine and take a break from the Italian classics. For a stunning view over the valley and a modern take on this very traditional food head to the Miramonte Panorama Restaurant in Avelengo. The weiner schnitzel and strudel are sublime here and you can choose from the a la carte or set menus. Sit on the large terrace or curved glass restaurant for the best view and modern traditional Tyrolean dishes.

www.hotel-miramonti.com

 

Speak

There are more German speakers in the South Tyrol than Italian and even more confusing than that, around four percent of the local population speak Ladin that is very closely related to Latin, but a unique language that has survived in the valleys and villages of the region. This is due to the region being annexed by the Italians after World War I from Austria and Germany. The two cultures have subsequently intermingled. The valleys steeped in the ancient past hold a history and secrets that are largely unexplored by non domestic Italian and Austrian tourists that are missing out on one of the most unique and picturesque natural alpine environments in the world.

 

SouthTyrol-07

 

Spa& Sauna

The Terme di Merano or natural thermal waters. This is a modern complex now that has a selection of indoor and outdoor pools (only open in summer). These deeply healing waters are kept at certain temperatures and contain one brine pool and a radon pool all believed to be deeply healing, especially for skin conditions. There are natural inhalation rooms for sinus problems and alternative doctors on site. Naturally saunas and steam rooms are part of the complex but be warned, the largest is traditional style no bathing suits allowed and unisex so definitely not for the timid.

The Spa itself utilises the natural products available from the region and specialities include the hay ‘bath’ treatment where you are immersed in warm hay and massages infused with the alpine ingredients from the region. Combined with access to the baths and all the facilities this is the perfect way to spend a day indulging in all the natural goodness the South Tyrol has to offer.

https://www.termemerano.it/en

 

SouthTyrol-08Summit – Messner Museum

The latest addition to the mountaineering museums that cover the area is the Messner Mountain Museum Corones designed by the legendary Dame Zaha Hadid. This ultra modern shrine to mountaineering sits at 2000 metres on top of the Tyrol on the Kronplatz Plateau. The border of Austria is a few metres away so it floats in between.

Reinhold Messner, who founded this museum amongst several others in the region, is a legendary mountaineer and explorer from the South Tyrol. He was the first to ascent Mount Everest without oxygen and summit all fourteen peaks in the world that are 8000 metres above sea level. This is his latest museum and is dedicated to traditional mountaineering.

These two iconic people have created a work of art to modern minimalism and mountaineering that has incredible views over this incredible region.

www.mmmcorones.com

 
 
© 2014 The Eco Gypsy - Ethical Exploration.
   


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