BOLZANO-Italian name and BOZEN-the German name for a lovely city of approx. 100,000 people in the Dolomites. It is about 2 hours to Innsbruck, Austria and 4 hours to Munich, Germany.
The layout of the city, its design, its colorful architecture, outdoor cafes, murals, statues, open markets full of fruit, veggies, wine, nuts, meat and cheeses, flowers and breads make it a pastoral venture through the windy and cobble-stoned streets. You will find villas everywhere, shopping galore, and above the city, hills surrounding it with swathes of green slopes in every angle and castles, churches and much more. Hillsides offer flowers wild and full of life, cows wandering, sheep, ponies and horses and cable cars, in different parts of the city, taking you from 1,000-2,000 meters above the city and then through forests and villages where you’ll come across pine forest walks, children playing on open plush-green hillsides, barns and you know deep in your heart, issues of drugs or guns or violence is not a part of this culture. It is peaceful and beautiful. It is not an alpine region with towering glaciers, but it is lovely, calming, soothing and a joy to simply wander around.
It tends to attract walkers and bicyclists, and if you stay in Bolzano, as I did, and if you receive a free transportation/museum card you can use the cable cars, hilltop trains to go from village to village and throughout the city for free. The food (excellent), the wine, great (FLASH-the entire region is wine growing and throughout there are vineyards circling the city) tons of walking, a river, parks, Middle Ages castle where you can sit in a cobble-stoned courtyard, dine and drink and then visit the castle interior full of Middle-Ages remnants, murals and wall paintings that take you back 800 years. People speak English, German and of course, Italian. If you can, visit and you'll be glad you did.
Bolzano is a city in the South Tyrol province of north Italy, set in a valley amid hilly vineyards. It's a gateway to the Dolomites mountain range in the Italian Alps. In the medieval city center, the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology features the Neolithic mummy called Ötzi the Iceman. Nearby is the imposing 13th-century Mareccio Castle, and the Duomo di Bolzano cathedral with its Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Bolzano, the provincial capital of South Tyrol, is anything but provincial. Once a stop on the coach route between Italy and the flourishing Austro-Hungarian Empire, this small city is worldly and engaged, a long-time conduit between cultures that has more recently become home to Europe's first trilingual university. Its quality of life – one of Italy's highest – is reflected in its openness, youthful energy and an all-pervading greenness. A stage-set-pretty backdrop of grassy, rotund hills sets off rows of pastel-painted townhouses, while bicycles ply riverside paths and wooden market stalls are laid out with Alpine cheese, speck (cured ham) and dark, seeded loaves. German may be the first language of 95% of the region, but Bolzano is an anomaly. Today its Italian-speaking majority – a legacy of Mussolini's brutal Italianization program of the 1920s and the more recent siren call of education and employment opportunities – looks both north and south for inspiration.
Castel Roncolo: This stunningly located castle was built in 1237 but is renowned for its vivid 14th-century frescoes. These are particularly rare, with themes that are drawn from secular literature, including the tale of Tristan and Isolde, as well as depictions of day-to-day courtly life.