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 Germantowns. 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 SanPancrazio and getting to Lana, known as "the orchard of Tyrol", andenjoy your drive among orchards and vineyards; past Marlengo/Marling,the castle of the Forst beerhouse and Lagundo/Algund, you get to Merano.
Merano/Meran, 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 14thcentury and restored in 1480. The manor is a rare example of Gothicbuilding. 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 riverPassirio 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 tourists.
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 local stube.
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.
- Starting point from Trento, enter the SS 12 Brennero main road.
- In Lavis turn into the SS 612 towards the Cembra Valley.
- Turn to Faedo and continue to San Michele all'Adige.
- Continue to Mezzolombardo following the directions to the motorway.
- Leave the SS 43 and turn to Thun Castle.
- Drive back to the SS 43 towards Mezzocorona.
- In Mezzocorona enter the SS 43 again and then continue along the SS 12 towards Bolzano/Bozen.
- In Salorno/Salurn turn into the Wine Route.
- Drive to Cortina/Kurtinig along the Wine Route, passing Magrè, Cortaccia, Termeno and Caldaro.
- In Caldaro/Kaltern turn to Passo della Mendola/Mendelpass.
- At Passo della Mendola/Mendelpass descent to Fondo in Val di Non.
- Enter the main road to Val d'Ultimo, San Pancrazio.
- Descend towards Lana, Marlengo, Foresta, Birreria Forst, Lagundo, Merano/Meran
- In Merano enter the Val Passiria, reaching San Leonardo and Passo del Giovo
- Continue to Vipiteno/Sterzing and drive in the direction of Campo di Trens, Mules, Fortezza/Franzenfeste, Bressanone/Brixen
- At Bressanone/Brixen continue to Chiusa/Klausen and Velturno/Felthurns
- Drive back to Chiusa/Klausen and reach Ponte Gardena/Waidbruck
- From Gardena/Waidbruck continue to Barbiano in the direction of Renon Collalbo
- From Collalbo come back to Bolzano/Bozen