Things to see in South Tyrol
I spent some time in a couple of the towns in South Tyrol- a province in northern Italy. I took the train from Turin to Bolzano and as soon as I left the station, I went to pick up my rental car. Driving around the Dolomites is probably the best and only option to get around and explore. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of Austrian influence here because this part of Italy used to be owned by Austria. People speak Italian, German, and a little English – you’ll even notice the signs will only be in Italian and German! The building architecture is much different from the rest of Italy and looks like it belongs in either Germany or Austria and is extremely charming.
I actually didn’t get to explore Bolzano as much as I would’ve liked because after a long train ride, and walking almost 2 miles with luggage to the car rental, I was ready to relax. I stayed at Hotel Rentschnerhof which turned out to be an awesome decision since they have a pool and you can’t beat swimming and staring at the view. What was even better was no one else was at the pool!!
After eating breakfast the hotel in Bolzano offered, it was time to go castle hopping! Driving around I realized that there are loads of castles in this region so I managed to pick a few.
- Brunnenburg – I assumed that you could drive up to these castles, but was wrong. There is, however, a parking garage near the castles I visited and after trying to translate German instructions from a kind, helpful person paid for a few hours (I’d give yourself atleast 4 hours to wonder around these castles and a few shops.) Brunnenburg is not a far walk from the parking garage and is only a short walk from Castel Tyrol. You can pay a few euros to walk around the castle/ museum and see what the family (who still lives there) has done to make a living and keep the grounds.
2. Castel Tyrol – This castle was built in the 12th century and is only about a ten minute walk from Brunnenburg. You can pay a few euros to walk around the castle/ museum to see artifacts found here and learn about the history. On each level in the castle tower there are pictures and information about how Austria influenced this region over the centuries.
After leaving Merano I stopped by Castel Trostburg. This castle is more secluded and there were only a couple people there. Trostburg offers tours for a few euros if you want to take a look inside too!
Val di Funes
If you’re wondering how to see picture perfect Val di Funes you see all over social media, wonder no more. I had a rental car which is the only way you’ll be able to get here and I used google maps on my phone. Keep in mind that as you’re driving through these mountainous regions, you’ll lose phone service so it’s a good idea to either take a screenshot of the directions or remember how many kilometers you have until the next turn. I set my destination to Hotel Tyrol which is in the small town to see Val di Funes. Once I reached the town I found a small parking lot and walked down the road until I saw a small trail going through the fields to give me the beautiful view of the mountains.
The day I went to find Val di Funes was cloudy, but regardless of the clouds, the Odle/ Geisler mountains could still be seen. It was peaceful sitting in the grass listening to the cow bells jingle as the cows wandered through the surrounding fields and watching the clouds float around the mountains.
If you have any favorites or awesome places that weren’t listed feel free to leave a comment, its much appreciated!