The castles, churches and museums of Bozen and Meran are home to genuine art treasures that can be discovered on guided tours. Experience the magic of Art Nouveau on the trail of the Empress Sissi in the city of Meran and the magical Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle. Experience the pleasures of shopping with a touch of Italian charm under the arcades and through the streets.
Castle Tyrol is the ancestral seat of the Counts of Tyrol, historically the most important castle in the land and now home to the South Tyrolean Museum for Cultural and Regional History. Temporary exhibitions, concerts and the Castle Festival ensure its primacy among the many castles and palaces.
The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle have received many awards for their beauty. Here can be seen blossoms and greenery at all times of the year, artfully arranged or growing naturally wild. Paths, streams and ponds are interspersed through the gardens, while there are educational stations on the slope above. Cultivated and natural landscapes rub shoulders in enchanting diversity. The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle and the South Tyrolean Provincial Museum of Tourism now occupy the ground where the Empress Sissi once strolled.
Meran, South Tyrol’s spa town, features two special attractions in its old town: the Prince’s Castle and the Women’s Museum. Outside the city gates, graceful Art Nouveau buildings such as the Kurhaus and the Municipal Theatre reflect the city’s popularity as an elegant resort around the year 1900. Stroll through the Sissi Park or along the Winter and Summer Promenades and admire the wild River Passer with its Gilfklamm ravine, a venue for canoeing competitions.
The Museum of Archaeology in Bozen is South Tyrol’s largest international attraction. It may sound like a detective story, but it holds what is in fact one of the most sensational Stone Age finds in decades. For 5,000 years Ötzi, the Man from the Ice, was frozen and perfectly preserved along with his coat, shoes of straw and bearskin cap. Reconstructions, videos and interactive multimedia stations all let visitors discover early history in a challenging yet fun way.
The shopping cities of Meran and Bozen are a complete experience, marked with Italian style. The squares become salons that host entertainment and culture. Both cities allow you to stroll under medieval arcades as you marvel at (and perhaps purchase) Italian and international fashions, with many a visitor leaving a shoe shop beaming, their bags full to bursting. The streets and squares have plenty of cafes and restaurants for you to enjoy, as well as ice-cream parlours offering homemade ice cream as you saunter through the narrow streets and listen to the sounds of street musicians and outdoor concerts.
Organic and farm produce complements the wide range of products on offer throughout the land, with street vendors, farm shops and markets. Health food stores and farmers’ markets are very popular and a showcase of farming culture. Not only fruit and vegetables, but also speck (smoked ham) and cheese are sold directly by the farmers to the delight of locals and visitors alike. Felt slippers are to be had alongside flower bouquets from cottage gardens, not to mention eggs, honey and baked goods. Organic food shops now also offer chocolate, beer and coffee from South Tyrol in addition to favourites such as wine, spirits and Schüttelbrot, the local crispy bread speciality.