South Tyrol Overview
- 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.
Suitably South Tyrol
Cablecars and a network of well-charted walking trails lead you up through deep green pine forests to the lofty peaks of the Dolomites, attracting hi-tech mountaineers and low-tech strollers.
- It’s best to book ahead; ask your hotel for details of local firms.
- Tipping culture
- Restaurant cover charges often represent the service charge, but it’s customary to round up the bill if the service is to your liking.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Some small shops still close for lunch. Supermarkets usually stay open until 19h.
- Packing tips
- Walking boots, sunscreen, all your usual ski paraphernalia in season. We swear by our CamelBak hands-free hydration systems.
- Recommended reads
- The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.
- The South Tyrol’s Austrian genes mean cricket-ball-sized canederli (dumplings) come drenched in melted butter. Try the hearty schlutzkrapfen – Tyrolean spinach and ricotta-filled ravioli. Vinschgerlen (Rye bread rolls) are chewy and spiked with caraway; smoked speck is tender and delicate. If it all sounds a bit heavy, a wide choice of gourmet restaurants have also sprung up, preparing local fare with a lighter, even Mediterranean touch.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Italy: 39. Merano: 0473.
- 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.