DISCOVER BOLZANO IN A CAMPER VAN

Discover bolzano in a camper van

Let’s head to one of Italy’s most livable and people-friendly cities.

Located at the crossroads between Italian and Germanic civilization, the city of Bolzano (Bozen in German) and its environs make a very pleasant holiday destination thanks to the stunning landscapes and vibrant, historic centre, which offers oodles of artistic heritage and cultural delights. There are also gourmet specialties to be enjoyed in the typical eateries and bars of the city. So, let’s discover Bolzano!

The local territory

  

Divided into five districts, the provincial capital of South Tyrol is a mix of ancient and modern, blending Germanic and Mediterranean tradition with Gothic architecture and rococo decorations.

 

Splendid vineyards laid out on terraces gently cascade towards the city, arriving within touching distance of the monuments, squares, castles and museums of the historic centre. To appreciate the local ambiance, we recommend getting around on foot or by bike: enjoy a stroll down Via dei Portici or ride along the cycle paths in the old centre and stop for a tasty snack in the typical downtown bars.

 

The Dolomites mountain range is within easy reach and three aerial lift systems will get you to Colle, San Genesio and Renon in minutes, where you will find countless hiking opportunities to suit everyone. The first aerial tramway for passengers opened at Colle over a hundred years ago and is still visible. It was built by Josef Staffler, a forward-thinking hotelier from Bolzano. Subsequently, Colle became such a popular tourist destination that some villas that were built here are now protected by the Superintendence of Historical and Artistic Heritage.

  

The historic centre and Piazza Walther

  

The Cathedral, an authentic Gothic-Romanesque jewel, is one of the city’s symbolic landmarks. It towers majestically at one end of Piazza Walther, in an area that was previously occupied by a proto-Christian basilica. Outside it stands the Leitacher Törl (the Wine Gate), whose name refers to the 14th-century concession made to the church to sell the precious tipple. Inside it is a sandstone pulpit by Hans Lutz von Schussenried (1514), an impressive altar and a 15th-century wooden crucifix. You can also visit the Cathedral Treasury with its collection of sacred vestments, relics, scrolls and numerous gold artefacts, dating mostly from the 18th century.

 

Don’t miss a visit to the nearby Dominican church. Built in the late 13th century, it houses a Guercino altarpiece depicting the apparition of St Dominic, a number of Byzantine paintings and the Chapel of St John (commissioned by Tuscan banker Giovanni de’ Rossi), containing an extraordinary cycle of 14th-century frescoes by the Giotto school with stories of Mary, St Nicholas, St John the Evangelist and St John the Baptist. The church is a stone's throw from Piazza Walther von der Vogelweide, the swankiest part of the city, at the centre of which stands the statue of the eponymous German poet who lived between the 11th and 12th centuries.

 

The square hosts characteristic events and attractions from the Flower Festival to the Christmas Market and draws citizens and tourists alike, who can be found there in summer and winter, exploring its most picturesque corners and frequenting its quaintest coffee shops.

 

Franciscan Friary

 

Piazza Walther is bordered to the north by Piazza del Grano, in the heart of the medieval town, where the grain market used to take place. The city’s commercial history stretches back at least a thousand years, when important trade fairs were held there due to its strategic position close to the Alpine passes. To make the most of the available space, multi-storey buildings were constructed complete with an underground cellar for goods, stores and workshops on the ground floor and accommodation on the upper floors. Narrow alleys link the arcades to the side streets. There you will find the Mercantile Museum, which from the first half of the 17th century was formerly the seat of the Mercantile Magistrate, who was appointed by Archduchess Claudia de’ Medici to resolve disputes between traders. On display there are historic documents, paintings and artistic furniture and, on the first floor, an impressive reception hall. Via Portici also contains some of the city’s best shops, which sell traditional objects and clothing. Continuing along Via Portici takes you to Piazza Erbe, with its picturesque market. In this area, dominated by historic buildings, you can buy flowers, seasonal products and the very best local produce.

Bolzano - Parish Lane (Vicolo della Parrocchia)

 

A walk along Via Museo takes you to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, which showcases exhibits from the Paleolithic era to the age of Charlemagne and even Romanesque relics. Don’t miss a glimpse of Ötzi, the Similaun Man who lived 5000 years ago. In 1991, German couple Erika and Helmut Simon discovered a mummified corpse in the ice near Giogo di Tisa, some 3200 metres above sea level; it was the remains of the Iceman, who lived over 5000 years ago at the beginning of the Copper Age. Ötzi, who may have been a shepherd or even a fugitive, died as a result of an arrow wound to the shoulder, with his body and equipment perfectly preserved by subzero temperatures. Today he rests in a sterile glass case that artificially reproduces the conditions up on the glacier. Since it opened in 1998, the museum has welcomed over four million visitors.

  

Castles and museums

  

From Talvera Bridge you can follow an easy circular route that is very popular with the locals. Set off northwards as far as Maretsch Castle, then along a path that starts at Sant'Antonio Bridge and climbs up to Runkelstein Castle. Surrounded by vineyards, the first manor was built in the 13th century and expanded in later periods. It can be visited by appointment or during concerts and events. Runkelstein Castle also frequently hosts exhibitions, concerts and theatrical performances. Perched on a rocky outcrop at the mouth of the Sarentino Valley, this imposing 13th-century building (where director Pier Paolo Pasolini shot scenes for his film The Decameron) is famous for some of the most important and greatest secular frescoes of the Middle Ages. They depict scenes of hunting and daily life, knightly tournaments and, in the Summer House, vignettes inspired by King Arthur and the love story between Tristan and Isolde. Back at Talvera bridge, the walk proceeds southwards to the Museion, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. The building is over 50 metres high, with two glass and steel façades that symbolically face towards the new and ancient parts of the city respectively. Also worth a visit is the Old Parish Church of Gries with its splendid altarpiece, an exquisite work of Tyrolean Gothic art by Michael Pacher. Built in the 15th century, the wooden altarpiece depicts the Coronation of Mary. Around the church and the nearby Benedictine abbey, let your gaze wander among the vineyards that extend right up to the edge of the city, an area that Wolfgang Goethe poetically christened the Gateway to the Dolomites.

INFORMATION:

Parking Areas

 

Rest area with camper service on Via Maso della Pieve, four kilometres from the city centre (buses 2, 10A, 10B).

Camper service on Via Buozzi, about four kilometres from the centre (buses 10A and 10B).

Camping Moosbauer (Via San Maurizio Moritzingerweg 83, tel. +39 0471 918492, www.moosbauer.com; open all year).

 

Places to Visit

 

Cathedral Treasury (Piazza della Parrocchia 27, tel. +39 0471 978 676, www.musei-altoadige.it)

South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology (Via Museo 43, tel. +39 0471 320100, www.iceman.it).

Civic Museum (Via Cassa di Risparmio 14, tel. +39 0471 997960)

Museion (Piazza Pietro Siena 1, tel. +39 0471 223413, www.museion.it)

Maretsch Castle (Via Claudia de’ Medici 12, tel. +39 0471 976615, www.mareccio.info).

Runkelstein Castle (Via Sant'Antonio 15, tel. +39 0471 329808, www.roncolo.info). Both castles are open for pre-booked and group visits only.

Franciscan Friary (Via Francescani 1, tel. +39 0471 977293) is open on Mondays–Saturdays from 10:00–12:00 and 14:30–18:00, and on Sundays from 15:00–18:00.

 

Useful Addresses

 

Bolzano Tourist Board, Piazza Walther 8, tel. +39 0471 307000, www.bolzano-bozen.it.

Tourist Association of Bolzano and its environs, Via Pillhof 1, Frangarto, tel. +39 0471 633488, www.bolzanodintorni.info.

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