Merano, Val Venosta, Val d'Ultimo, in the midst of lakes, forests, castles, chapels and museums
Merano is a charming city, north west of Bolzano. The historic center, especially dear to both Franz Kafka and Ezra Pound, is characterized by elegant shopping streets, the pavements of which are sheltered from eventual snow falls by centuries old porticoes.
The evolution of wellness
Sites of historic interest include Merano's imposing Gothic Cathedral of San Nicola, the Castello Principesco and the old Thermal Baths.
Merano's new state-of-the-art, ultra modern spa center, which opened in 2005, has quickly become an integral part of the townscape.
Those in the area in December should be sure not to miss a trip to the month-long Christmas market held on the banks of the river Passirio
Beer, apples and armor
From Merano, passing by Lagundo, famous for its beer, we enter the Val Venosta, where the apples which sport the Alto Adige IGT sticker grow.
This area constitutes an important thoroughfare linking Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Once beyond Parcines and Laces, we come to Sludero and the magnificent Castel Coira or Churburg.
Castle Ciora's armory houses the world's largest private collection of armor, with 50 wonderfully preserved suits, the oldest of which dates back to 1365.
The journey through the Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio is one of the highlights of this trip, giving visitors the opportunity to marvel at some of the most important mountains in the Alps: Ortles, Gran Zebrù and Cevedale.
The Stelvio Pass is one of the highest alpine passes in Europe, and an agonizing challenge for the cyclists participating in the Giro d'Italia
The road, which counts a total of 60 hairpin bends, was realized between 1820 and 1825 for the Austrian-Hungarian Empire by the Brescia-born engineer, Carlo Donegano.
The larches of the Val d'Ultimo are considered to be the oldest conifers in the whole of Europe.
Growing at an altitude of some 1400 meters, the trees are located in the vicinity of Santa Gertrude, this latter the departure point for the Val Martello.
From the ancient church of the little hill top town, set between the Cevedale glaciers, a breathtaking view over the valley of the Valsura river, which aliments the immense 2km long artificial lake of Zoccolo, can be admired.
The town of Pracupola, at the end of the lake, is home to a chapel considered to be the oldest in the entire valley.
Following roads bordered by strawberry plantations, visitors reach the Culturamartell, situated just beyond the small town of Santa Maria alla Fonderia.
This is the Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio's visitors' center, and includes a permanent exhibition of traditional local peasant culture.
Hotels in the area
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Madonna di Campiglio
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Madonna di Campiglio
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