Trentino Alto Adige Photographs, Museums, Alpine Skiing, Transportation

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Trentino Alto Adige is perhaps the least Italian of regions. Laid out along the country's northeastern border with Austria, it is a breathtaking land of saw-toothed ridges and snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows and glittering waterfalls, popular ski resorts and immaculate medieval towns. In winter, the skiing is absolutely unparalleled. Spring and fall offer enchanting hikes along an extensive network of well-marked trails, with stops in remote mountain hamlets where German is the most common language and dumplings are more prevalent than spaghetti. Italians have long known this to be one of their best vacation spots, combining glorious nature, warm hospitality, reliable accommodations and, with a few memorable exceptions, extremely affordable prices.

If you look for Trentino Alto Adige on a map, you'll find that many of the localities have two names, such as Bolzano/Bozen, Merano/Meran, Bressanone/Brixen, Cortaccia/Kurtatsch, Castelvecchio/Altenburg, Corno Nero/Schwarzhorn and of course, Corno Bianco/Weisshorn. Despite its calm, pastoral, orderly appearance, this is a deeply divided region, an area which has long struggled to find a homogenous identity for itself. Napoleon was a key player in this story, as it was he who conquered the region and placed it under the realm of the Austrian Habsburgs, who ruled it until it was returned to Italy at the end of World War I. A large and very vocal segment of the local population never accepted that political arrangement, and in 1939, Mussolini gave them the chance to either accept Italian citizenship and remain or assume German citizenship and emigrate north. The overwhelming majority chose the latter option, leaving this largely rural territory even more underpopulated than before.

In 1948, the Italian legislature made Trentino Alto Adige an autonomous region. While this may sound like a reasonable solution, it has actually proved to be little more than another political expedient which has led, in a way, to further estrangement from Italy and to a sort of de facto internal division. Even the most casual visitor will have little trouble noticing that Trentino, the southern part of the region centered around the beautiful city of Trento, is far more Italian than Alto Adige, which is also known as Südtyrol. In addition, sprinkled throughout the mountain valleys of both areas are about 80,000 residents who, clinging to yet another ethnic tradition, speak an ancient language known as Ladin. This utterly incomprehensible tongue, a combination of Celtic dialects and Latin, resulted from the encounter of northern colonists and Roman legions in the first century BC. The town of Vigo di Fassa has an interesting museum illustrating the history and colorful customs of the Ladin people.

Many foreign travelers first encounter Trentino Alto Adige on their way south from Austria. Starting from the dizzying heights of the Brenner Pass, In Italy has arranged an itinerary for you to visit the many splendors of this, the Rooftop of Italy.

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[Regions of Italy]