Starting point of this itinerary is the town is Trento, worth a close visit. In fact you can enter the public walks of the old town centre as far as the Cathedral or the Buonconsiglio Castle, the old seat of the famous Council of Trent and, nowadays, of many museums, which make this town rich of cultural events.
Through the SS 12 Brennero main road you will enter the Wine Route. Via Lavis and Cembra, chief town of the homonymous valley at the foot of Mount Cembra (1250 m), you will get to Faedo, a village that still preserves the structure and the charm of old times, rich in narrow streets and old buildings.
After a long but relaxing descent among the vineyards, you will get to San Michele all'Adige. This town guests the Augustinian monastery and the "Museum of Uses and Costumes of Trentino People". At the beginning of San Michele all'Adige there is the store of the Agricultural Institute of the Province, which function is to watch over the wine production in the Province of Trento. At the Institute, moreover, it is possible to visit the winery, where old precious barrels are kept, and to taste wines and distillates, and perhaps, to buy some "delicious" souvenir.
Back again on the road through the Piana Rotaliana (Rotaliana Plateau) - also known as the most beautiful vine garden in Europe, rich in wineries and refreshment bars- you can give yourself another little digression and get to Thun Castle. The fortified structure was built in the XII century and soon became symbol of the Thuns' power. Nowadays it belongs to the Province that has opened to the public the bastions and the military towers as well as the more elegant inner rooms, such as the frescoed baroque library or the Bishop's Room, entirely covered with "cirmolo" wood.
After this stop drive again along the SS 43, continuing along the Wine
Route. You will meet the little towns of Salorno/Salurn, Cortina/Kurtinig,
Magrè/Margreid and Cortaccia/Kurtatsch: now you are in
South Tyrol, and the villages mirror the characteristics of the German
towns. The most picturesque village is certainly Salorno/Salurn, in the Monte
Corno Natural Park, where you can stop in one of the wine shops,
very similar to the German Biergarten, and taste wines such as Cabernet,
Merlot and Grauvernatsch.
From here, drive towards Termeno/Tramin,
home of Traminer, a white flavoured wine, and Caldaro/Kaltern,
home of Kaltersee wine (whose name comes from the homonymous lake) and
seat of an interesting Wine Museum.
Now it's time to reach the Passo
della Mendola. To get to it you must drive uphill along 15 km full
of bends and hairpin bends, where you can really enjoy your driving; the
view on the Adige valley and on the east Dolomites is wonderful.
Descent to Fondo, a nice village situated in a wide valley,
sheltered from cold winds. Continue to Castelfondo, Proves, Lauregno and
enter the provincial road that leads to Val d'Ultimo, passing by San
Pancrazio and getting to Lana, known as "the orchard of Tyrol", and
enjoy your drive among orchards and vineyards; past Marlengo/Marling,
the castle of the Forst beerhouse and Lagundo/Algund, you get to Merano.
located at the confluence of the rivers Adige and Passirio, is an
international, well-known spa and has a splendid climate. Strolling in
the old city centre, along the characteristic via Portici, you reach the
Cathedral, built in 1263 in Gothic style and consecrated to St.
Nicholas. On the outskirts there is the Prince Castle built in the 14th
century and restored in 1480. The manor is a rare example of Gothic
building. The residential area Maia Alta is really nice and there
you find the race-course, one of the meeting points par excellence,
famous for its exciting Haflinger horses races; every year, in
September, the Grand Prix takes place here. Walking along the river
Passirio is very pleasant, both in winter and summer. This town is
famous for its wine cures in autumn, for the thirty castles situated
among the vineyards and its beautiful outskirts.
Leaving Merano/Meran from Porta Passiria, follow the road along
the brook that flows in the valley, and past Rifiano, you find San
Martino/St. Martin at the foot of the Passirio Alps. Drive uphill,
passing by San Leonardo/St. Leonard, located at the confluence of
two valleys, Alta Val Passiria and Val di Vannes, at the foot of the
high pass connecting Mount Croce and Mount Giovo. The Giovo road
presents many hairpin bends. Pass by Vàltina and enter the Val di Vannes
valley. Past the last pastures, you get to Passo del
Giovo/Jaufenpass. Driving downhill on the opposite side you can
enjoy a fabulous view on the mountains. Pass by Calice and continue to
Casatéia, Val Ridanna. Following the road along the flat you get to
Vipiteno/Sterzing, a town with an unmistakable style that shows its
Habsburg influences. The Mines and the Multscher museums, the parish
church, built in the 15th century, the church of the Holy Spirit and the
medieval hospital are all very interesting attractions for the
Valle Isarco/Eisacktal is the valley of flavours ... here
you can still savour the traditional dishes and the excellent, famous
wines, especially the white ones, such as the Sylvaner, Müller Thurgau
and the flavoured yet delicate Kerner. All the year round you can take
part to the gourmets' weeks: the weeks of good cuisine, yogurt days, the
canederli festival, the apple and chestnut weeks, and the Törggelen,
the ancient traditional tasting of new wine and roasted chestnuts in the
From Vipiteno/Sterzing, past Campo di Trens and
Fortezza, drive on and reach Bressanone/Brixen, an important resort
located in a picturesque valley at the confluence of the rivers Isarco
and Rienza. Several monuments and its thousand-year-old history give the
town both artistic and historic value. The main square with the Baroque
cathedral and its Gothic Torre Bianca, the Palace of the Bishop
Princes, Pfaundler Palace, the arcades, the Diocesan Museum and the
famous cloister with frescoes that date back to the 14th century, the
baptistery and St. John's Church where the anti-pope was elected in
1080: all these buildings contain great masterpieces. Just 10 km
separate Bressanone/Brixen from Chiusa/Klausen, the Roman Sabiona,
called also "gate to the Dolomites". Here you can admire several
masterpieces, as well as nice frescoed houses. Between Chiusa/Klausen
and Bressanone/Brixen you meet Velturno/Felthurns, considered "one of
the pearls of Alto Adige": in this mountain town the ancient houses, the
old masi (traditional farmhouses), the little churches and chapels and
the castle are all remains of the Renaissance period.
Past the big
power station built in the rock, drive along the river Isarco in the
direction of Ponte Gardena/Waidbruck - this village is dominated
by Castel Forte, located at the entrance of the Val Gardena valley. At
this point your trip is coming near its end. Go on to Barbiano/Barbina,
surrounded by secular chestnut forests, and leave Isarco driving on in
the direction of the Renon/Ritten area. The Renon valley is very
popular, as it includes Collalbo/Klobenstein. Here you can admire
the seventeenth century church of Saint Anthony that still keeps
valuable paintings. However, before approaching Collalbo, you meet Longostagno/Lengstein
and the Earth Pyramids/Erdpyramiden, the very attraction of this
area: these incredible pinnacles are indeed a true geological miracle.
You can get to the pinnacles on foot: it takes about 10 minutes.
The itinerary continues among vineyards, with a splendid view on
the valley - you are now descending to Bolzano/Bozen, chief town of
South Tyrol: let's stop and have a look around. The wide Piazza
Walter and the Gothic cathedral (that dates back to the 14th -
15th century) with its nice bell tower is the heart of this town; the
Gothic Dominicans' church, embellished with frescoed chapels and
cloisters (dating back to the 14th and 16th centuries) is located
nearby. On the north side of the square you find the colourful Via
dei Portici, where the oldest and more characteristic streets end,
flanked by ancient stuccoed houses decorated with bow windows. On the
west side, Via dei Portici leads to the nice Piazza delle Erbe,
where the fruit market takes place. Nearby you can see the beautiful
Gothic Franciscans' church (14th century), housing valuable masterpieces
and an elegant fourteenth-century cloister. Then you reach the wide
Talvera Park; the white and imposing Monumento alla Vittoria
rises on the opposite riverside.