Bolzano – Bozen: Where North meets South

This is an excerpt from the book “The Great Dolomite Road – Bolzano to Cortina” by Enrico Massetti.  Buy the book here.

For me, Bolzano – Bozen is a mountain transformed into a city. The moment you move, it changes appearance. You edge forward and the profile is different, you go back and discover new faces. It speaks different languages. At its heart, it is an actor, enchanting and contradictory, haughty an alluring, warm hearted and chilly.”
R. Messner

Bolzano Sudtirol

At the Crossroads of Culture
Bolzano – Bozen, the only city in the world with both a competition in honor of F. Busoni and a house where Mozart slept. An elegant salon where different people meet, an exchange of cultures, music, and performances.

The central Piazza Walther named for the troubadour Walther von der Vogelweide, one street named for Dante and another for Goethe; a conservatory carrying the name of Monteverdi an Orchestra of Haydn. A trilingual University, and an Academy of Design and a Film School both bilingual. This is what makes Bolzano – Bozen a little big capital of European atmosphere!

Rosengarten – Photo © ON1TZUKA

Bolzano – Bozen: The Gateway to the Dolomites

Bolzano – Bozen lies 265 m above sea level along one of the most important routes running from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, connecting North and South. It is surrounded on all sides by mountains. Above the city, in the Dolomites, lies the “Rosengarten“- the  legendary realm of Laurin, the dwarf king. His enchanted garden glows an unearthly red at twilight.

Mediterranean climate with alpine splendor
With a yearly average high of 16.6°C (62°F) a yearly average low of 6°C (43°F), and no fog, Bolzano – Bozen has a very mild climate.

In fact, a part of Bolzano – Bozen, the formerly independent town of Gries was a health resort in the last century, beloved by all because of its climate.

Bolzano – Bozen is the portal to a world without borders, from the green of parks and grapevines to the living rock of the Dolomites. Pink mountains fringed with snow form a backdrop while below lie palms, olive trees, cedars, and magnolias on the slopes of the hills. An elegant frame for the meeting between the fresh northern wind and the radiant Mediterranean sun, a benediction for vines sagging with the weight of bountiful bunches, filled with the flavors of days gone by.

Bolzano roofs

Bolzano – Bozen: The Countryside in the city

There are over 300 hectares (740acres) of grapevines within the city limits, a full one seventh of the total area. In the fall, the aroma of freshly crushed grapes wafts through the city from its 27 wineries.

Bolzano Castle

Bolzano – Bozen: Some history

The recorded history of Bolzano – Bozen began with the arrival of Roman garrisons in the 1st century BC, although the area had been inhabited at least 2.500 years earlier.

Today’s town center began 900 years ago and is characterized by Gothic architecture. It was constructed by the bishops of Trento at a key junction between North and South and included an arcaded avenue to display goods, with German-speaking tradesmen on one side and their “Italic” counterparts on the other.

Although it was often touched by war, Bolzano – Bozen has preferred peace, favoring first the exchange of merchandise, later languages and customs. .

The wealth that rolled out of the arcades helped the church to erect such artistic monuments as Giottoesque frescoes, a cathedral bell tower designed by a Swabian architect, and the carved wooden altar by Michael Pacher. With the 20th century came Jungenstil and Neo-Gothic styles.

This is an excerpt from the book “The Great Dolomite Road – Bolzano to Cortina” by Enrico Massetti.  Buy the book here.

Recommended hotels and restaurants (we visited them…):
Turmbach Appiano sulla strada del Vino – Eppan an der Weinestrasse
Schoenblink-Belvedere San Genesio Atesino – Jenesien

Where to stay in Bolzano

There are high quality hotels, apartments, villas and guesthouses available, check them out and make a reservation here.