Bolzano's history has been a trading point since its foundation and elevation to a city over 800 years ago. This was mostly due to its location between the two major cities of Venice and Augsburg. Four times a year a fair was held and traders came from the south and the north of Europe. The merchants would display and sell their goods under the arcades of the Lauben, Bolzano's main street, which still happens today. The mercantile magistrate was founded in 1635. At this time the city was a cultural crosspoint between the German & Italian speaking parts of Europe. This melting pot of languages & culture became even more complex through the battle of WW1 when the border between Austria and Italy was moved.
Today Bolzano is a small beautiful city that is home to just under 100,000 residents. The rich cobblestoned streets of the old town centre no longer plays host to public vehicle access, and therefore is filled with both residents and visitors going about their daily activities by foot or bicycle. Visit the traditional fruit and vegetable markets, one of the many churches and museums, enjoy the shopping or simply sit back and enjoy the atmosphere whilst sipping a ‘perfect cappuccino'.
From end of November for 4 weeks the Christkindl Market is taking centre stage in the old part of town. The Christmas Market in Bolzano is Italy's biggest Christmas market. For over two decades now it has attracted countless visitors every year to the magnificently decorated Piazza Walther, with its uniquely special Advent atmosphere. For almost a month, festive aromas fill the streets and picturesque alleyways in South Tyrol's regional capital; the shimmering sparkle of romantic lamps and flickering candles bathes Bolzano in a magical light for a short period.
Bolzano's oldest and most famous resident is certainly Ötzi, The Ice Man. The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano is home to Ötzi and approximately half a million people visit him and the museum each year. The Ice Man is over 5000 years old and has been rated as one of the top 10 most significant archaeological finds ever.
Surrounding Bolzano are various alpine farms, vineyards and orchards. There are 80,000 milk cows in South Tyrol, a large number of which spend the summer on the cool meadows or high pastures. Their top quality milk is used to produce butter, yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products. In autumn the harvest of apples, grapes, sweet chestnuts and other agricultural products typical to South Tyrol takes place. The area is also renowned for it's South Tyrolean ‘Speck'. Speck is where the haunches of pork are salted and rubbed with herbs and spices. The herb mixture gives the ‘speck' its aroma and flavour. The meat is then lightly smoked at a maximum of 20 C and then air dried. After 22 weeks the ‘speck' is deemed mature and ready to eat. There are many more traditional specialities within the area however with such amazing foods produced locally in South Tyrol, it is no wonder the area has become a complete gourmet delight.