Bolzano (Bozen in German) is the capital city of the province of Alto Adige (South Tyrol) in Trentino-Alto Adige, an autonomous region in northern Italy. Bolzano lies at the crossroads between Italian and Austrian cultures. It has about 100.000 inhabitants of which around 70% have Italian and 25% German as their mother language. All street signs and official names are written in both Italian and German and most people seem to be able to switch easily between the two languages. Bolzano is ranked among the top cities in Italy in terms of quality of life.
Bolzano is surrounded by mountains and you can see some of the magnificient Dolomite peaks from the city center. The two rivers Eisack (Isarco) and Talfer (Talvera) meet here. The climate in this area is predominantly continental, with cold winters and the summers can be extremely hot with sudden drops to much cooler temperatures.
Bolzano is situated in a major wine producing region with vinyards right outside the city limits. The white wines are tasty and rich in flavors. Try a native Gewurtztraminer or the excellent Sauvignon from the Cantina Bolzano Winery. Two fine native reds are the Lagrein and the St.Magdalena, the latter made mostly from the Schiava grapes, possibly grown in the sunny hillsides only minutes from the town.
The city of Bolzano is home of the world famous “Ötzi the Iceman”, discovered in the Ötztal Alps in 1991 by a couple trekking in the area. Today this mythic and well preserved natural mummy (from 3300BC) can be seen through a small window of a sterile room at the Museum of Archaeology, lying on his back exactly as he was found, with the disjointed left arm extended across the chest.
According to a recent article in New Scientist online (June 13, 2013), studies of samples taken from brain tissue seem to confirm that Ötzi was in fact killed by a blow to his forehead, more than 5000 years ago.
The cable car from Bolzano to Soprabolzano departs every 4 minutes and the 4.5km ride takes about 12 minutes. The view from the cable car is spectacular. From Soprabolzano you can take a the train further into the Renon (Ritten) plateau, all the way to the village of Collalbo (Klobenstein). Stroll through this little alpine village until you reach the Lintner Pasticceria and enjoy the view of the Dolomites from the terrace there. Unforgettable.
From Collalbo (Klobenstein) or from any of the other stops along the 30 minute train ride, you can go hiking from one village to another on the many clearly marked trails that eventually lead to the top, to Corno del Renon/Ritten Horn.