I Love Sightseeing Tours of Italy - Winter Attractions and Events in Trentino-Alto Adige
The Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy borders on Switzerland and Austria. Its numerous tourist attractions include the Dolomite Mountains, which the famous architect Le Corbusier called "The most beautiful work of architecture even seen," glacier lakes, and Alpine forests. Needless to say, skiing and other winter sports are a major attraction here, but you can't really count on the snow until late February. There are other things to do and see.
This lovely region is composed of two parts, Trentino in the south and the largely German speaking Alto Adige in the north. Alto Adige, sometimes known as South Tyrol, really seems like part of Austria. Its second largest city, Merano (Meran in German), plays host to an International Wine and Culinara during the second weekend of November. There is quite a focus on biodynamic and organic wine as well as Asian food. Talk about multiculturalism, Asian food in a Germanic speaking part of Italy.
The first Saturday in December Passo dello Stelvio, the highest paved mountain pass in the eastern Alps, holds its Festa dei Klosen, which is dedicated to Santa Claus. Costumed locals wander the streets until the church bells are rung and everyone unites in prayer services. Given its proximity to Germany, Trentino-Alto Adige is a fine location for Christmas markets that sell beautiful local handicrafts and plenty of kitsch. At night the markets are well lit and often provide other festivities. Some of the best Christmas markets are found in Trento and Bolzano. The former hosts a large Nativity Scene in its lovely Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). You'll enjoy the Nativity Scene in Tesero. Cortina d'Ampezzo, "the Pearl of the Dolomites" celebrates Christmas Eve with a skiers' torchlight parade; at midnight hundreds of people ski down the mountain carrying torches.
Castelrotto (Kastelruth in German) is quite Germanic; you'll really enjoy the strudel, dumplings, and oom-pah-pah music. This town hosts several special events every January. First comes the Trial of the Witches, Castelrotto was said to be a center of witchcraft. Then enjoy the Dobbiaco Balloon Festival. On the third Sunday the town reenacts a traditional peasant wedding; about twenty sleds transport the traditionally dressed wedding party to the church.
The towns of San Candido and San Vigilio hold a great Ice Sculpture Festival in mid January. If you are driving there, make sure that you bring snow chains, a reflective vest and a warning triangle. Winter driving in the mountains is serious stuff.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on
computers and the Internet, but he prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website http://www.travelitalytravel.com which includes information on Italian wine and food.