- Countryside Alpine oxygen
- Country life Ski or spa, stroll or stride
Austrian until 1919, the South Tyrol – or Südtirol – is Italy’s most northerly province, with a uniquely Teutonic tone. Two-thirds of the population speak German as their mother tongue, and handsome schlossen dot every hillside, but still an Italian sensibility prevails, creating an intriguing cultural mix.
The landscape is dominated by the dramatic peaks of the Dolomites mountain range, towering over peaceful valleys of orderly farmland, apple orchards and award-winning vineyards. The spa town of Merano and ancient Bolzano are the South Tyrol's two main towns; their undoubted charms are perhaps eclipsed by the sheer beauty of the natural backdrop, which provides a perfect adventure playground for more open-air activities than you can possibly have time for.
Do go/Don’t go
The ski slopes open from December to February. From May through to autumn the upland pastures are popular for walking, biking and riding. The turn-of-season shutdowns are in March and November.
- Planes Verona and Innsbruck airports are two hours away by car. Lufthansa and Air Alps (www.airalps.com) fly to nearby Bolzano in four hours from London Heathrow. A stopover is required.
- Trains It’s possible to travel from London to Innsbruck, just over the Austrian border, via Brussels. See www.europeanrail.com for more details.
- Automobiles A car is ideal for getting to your next activity appointment on time | and scoping out hillside hamlets | but be prepared for frequent snowfalls and icy road conditions in the winter.
- Taxis It’s best to book ahead; ask your hotel for details of local firms.