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A Quick Tour Of Italy - The Alto-Adige Subregion

If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy on the border of both Switzerland and Austria. Its tourist attractions include the Dolomite Mountains and some eight hundred castles. This article presents the northern section Alto Adige; a companion article presents Trentino.

Alto Adige residents must declare their first language: choices include Italian (26.5%), German (69%), and Ladin (4%). There is a German-speaking majority in fully 103 of 116 communes. Tourists can enjoy the two cultures.

Caldaro (Kaltern), population about 7500, annually attracts over 400,000 tourists. Its architecture combines Italian Renaissance and German Gothic elements as exemplified in the historic Church of Santa Caterina in the town center. The Caldero Lake claims to be the warmest in the Alps and is enjoyable from May to September. Visit the Provincial Wine Museum located in a princely manor.

The horticultural center of Naturno (Naturns), population about five thousand, boasts the Seventh Century Church of San Procolo with frescoes among the oldest in the German-speaking world. Then drive west to Reinhold Messner's Thirteenth Century Castel Juval. Messner was the first person to climb Mount Everest solo and the first to climb it without additional oxygen.

The capital Bolzano (Bozen), population about 100,000 people, many German speaking, but mostly Italian speakers. The South Tyrol Archeological Museum's star attraction is Oetzi, the more than five thousand year old iceman discovered in Italy near the Austrian border in 1991. The Gothic Duomo (Cathedral) was built from the Twelfth to Fourteenth Centuries. The city has many old churches, two main squares, and a beautiful promenade skirting vineyards on the edge of the city, and along the river in the middle of town.

Cortina d'Ampezzo is a fairly exclusive winter resort. Cortina was supposed to host the 1944 Winter Olympics but because of World War II had to wait until 1956. Known as "The Pearl of the Dolomites," it sits in a meadow about 4000 feet (1.2 kilometers) above sea level, surrounded by mountains. Cortina was the site of many popular films including The Pink Panther and For Your Eyes Only.

Alto Adige cuisine tends to be Austro-Tyrolean. Popular foods include wursts, cabbage dishes, dumplings, and potatoes. Pork is big, especially Speck, Austrian smoked ham. See our companion article I Love Touring Italy - The Alto-Adige Subregion for a sample menu and more information on Alto-Adige wines plus an in-depth examination of its tourist attractions. The San Leonardo, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, is said to be quite good but is pricey.

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