The chief town of the "most beautiful mountains in Europe", the Dolomites, crossed by the tranquil river Adige, Alto Adige is an exception under all points of view compared to the other Italian regions. Its history is exceptional, divided between the Germanic and the Latin world, but so is its present, a case of peaceful and profitable coexistence of cultures and languages, within a land of extraordinary beauty and prosperity.
Alto Adige had belonged to the Hapsburg empire ever since the Middle Ages, and it became Italian only after the first world war, in 1918. An extensive administrative, tax-related and cultural independence, conquered after decades of relative tension with the Italian government, permitted a pacific and profitable coexistence for German and Italian-speaking people as well as the Ladin minority, so that all people who live in this region can finally live and prosper in a land full of resources.
The region is almost entirely mountainous, with the long central Adige valley, and secondary valleys (Martello and d'Ultimo, westwards, and Senales, Passiria, dell'Isarco and Pusteria to the east, plus Val Badia and Val Gardena). Each of these valleys is a little natural jewel, where excellent cultivations (wine, apples, even strawberries) alternate with woods of unparalleled beauty. Alto Adige mountains host some of the most famous skiing centres in Europe, whereas during the summer the beautiful towns in the valleys are the destination for intelligent and respectful tourism, interested in trekking along the highest paths and relaxing, cocooned by unpolluted nature. It is impossible to mention all the places that would deserve a visit. From the treasures of tourism (S. Vigilio di Marebbe in Val Pusteria, Corvara in Val Badia, S. Cristina in Val Gardena just to mention a few) to the wonders of nature. Do not miss out on a walk through elegant Bolzano, the true capital of the region, or among the colourful decorated houses of Bressanone, Merano or Vipiteno, to breathe in the Central European atmosphere of this European beauty.
Although the Alto Adige region is considered by most to be the region for snow, interestingly it offers almost Mediterranean places and landscapes, with mild weather and lush nature. An example of this is the Renon plateau, near Bolzano, and the Appiano Wine Road, in the southern part of the region.
The Renon plateau, which mountain lovers call the "Riviera delle Dolomiti" for its warm weather, lies over a thousand metres above sea level, and twelve truly beautiful towns welcome weekenders from Bolzano. The little electric train crossing the plateau is famous, as well as the highly scented honey that is produced here and S. Maddalena wine, its vineyards reaching a thousand metres in altitude. Seekers of food marvels and prestigious wine cannot miss the Wine Road, winding from Appiano through other places famous for their wine production, at the borders with Trentino.
Alto Adige offers quite a lot of various food related, cultural and sporting events, both in summer season and in winter. Among the most heart-felt and fun are the Christmas markets, organised in Bolzano and in the region's major towns in the two weeks before Christmas. There you will find plenty of delicious specialities, precious wooden craftwork, and, of course any type of Christmas decoration.