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.
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.