The Internet's most comprehensive Travel website for Italy
Use quote marks to search for exact names eg "Hotel Florence"

Duomo on Piazza Walter, Bozano (Bozen)

City Hall, Bozano (Bozen)

Market in Bolzano (Bozen)


Bozen-Bolzano is internationally famous for the ice-mummy "Ítzi". Bozen-Bolzano is also the home of the Italian Army's Alpini High Command- COMALP and some of its combat and support units.

Welcome to Bolzano (Bozen)
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 94,989 (2001)
Official website: Bolzano (Bozen)
Wikipedia: Bolzano (Bozen)

Map: MapQuest

Bolzano - known to Germans as Bozen - sits where the Isarco River flows into the larger Adige River, which streams out of the Alps.  Though unquestionably Italian, the city sits on the A22 running north through the Brenner Pass and south to Trento, Verona and Modena, in the midst of the German-speaking part of the country, known as the South Tyrol.

A picturesque small town, with a mild climate, Bolzano is surrounded by gorgeous Alpine scenery.  And although tourism is a mainstay of its economy, Bolzano also boasts a busy commercial center and small manufacturing center from which aluminum, plastic, ceramic, wood, wool and other machined goods are exported.  It is also a busy agricultural area which produces an array of wines, vinegars and dairy products.  The city consistently ranks as one of the  best cities in Italy to live.

Originally settled by the Celts, the Romans imposed themselves on the town in about 15 BC, calling it Pons Drusi after their general Nero Claudius Drusus.  But, of course, Rome fell, and Bolzano witnessed the centuries long coming-and-goings of a succession of war-makers:  Goths, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Longobards, Austrians, French and Germans.  Even in the 20th Century its strategic position near the Brenner Pass put it in harms way, during the First World War, of course, but also during the Second World War, when it suffered at the hands of the Axis and Allied powers alike.

The official language of the area is Ladin, but most people are multi-lingual and can converse in Italian and German.  Alas, historically speaking, even up to the 1960s, co-existence between the Italian and German parts of the population has not always been peaceful, largely because the Germans have steadfastly resisted assimilation.

After World War I, Italy annexed the region which had been under Austrian control.  But, the land remained in dispute, and ethnic tensions caused perpetual conflict.  Hitler and Mussolini tried, unsuccessfully, to solve the problem by giving all the Germans who wanted to the right to move to Germany.   In the 1960's the UN brokered a deal between Austria and Italy, that resulted in Trentino being ceded officially to Italy, but as a Region with a special autonomy and corresponding rights.  As a result, the age old conflict has more or less subsided.  For more:  History of the South Tyrol

Its location has made Bolzano a trade center since time immemorial.  In early medieval times a market drawing traders from north and south was held here every quarter year.

When you visit Bolzano, in the "centro", you will find narrow, winding streets overlooked by "tyrolean" houses and commercial buildings featuring a lot of woodwork, wooden beams, high peaked roofs and balconies.  Bolzano is an episcopal seat, so there is a cathedral, the building of which started in 1184, done in the Romanesque style. It was rebuilt in the 14th Century at which time it took on a pronounced Gothic appearance.  There are a few medieval palazzos in the old part of the city, which travelers will see during their perambulations.

In the main piazza, the Walther von der Vogelweide Platz, keep an eye out for the statue of a minstrel - the minstrel for whom the piazza is named.  Those who like oddities can visit the archaeological museum, resting place of a 5,000 year old mummy affectionately known as  Otzi, which was found encased in glacial ice in the nearby mountains.  No one has yet raised him from the dead.

Mussolini built a large white, marble monument, to the Italian dead of WW I, which apparently remains controversial to this day.  Don't ask.

In and around the city there are a few castles built in improbable mountain locations, among them the Maretsch, Schloss-Runkelstein, Schloss and Sigmundskrop.  Listen for the sound of trumpets, and standards snapping in the wind.

If you have the time, energy and inclination (dig deep), then we highly recommend a journey to San  Genesio, about 800 meters higher than Bolzano in the mountains nearby.  It is one of those idyllic Tyrolean villages that one sees in the movies.  You can hike up, or drive a very windy road with great panoramas of the valleys below, or, most fun of all, take a 10 minute ride by cable car.  The village's main claim to fame are its horses, the famed Aveglinesi breed, a breed of gentle blonds bred for mountain work.

Take time for lunch or dinner, in either Bolzano or San Genesio.  Here is a combination of German and Italian cuisine that will appeal to English-speaking travelers.  The local grappa helps everything to go down, just right!

A destination?  We think so.

By Vian Andrews November 24th, 2005

Region of TrentinoAlto Adige

46░30′ N. 11░21′ E.


By Car: North from Modena, Verona and Trento on the A22, or  South from Austria, via the Brenner Pass on the A22.




Outdoor market in Bolzano (Bozen)