I'll be spending a few days in Gargnano on Lake Garda in September. I'd like to take a day trip to a nice town in the Dolomites that has a distinct Austrian/German flavor. I know Bolzano is about 2 hours away. Does anyone know of any towns that would be what I'm looking for but are a bit closer to Gargnano?
The Trento and Bolzano provinces were part of the Austrian empire till 1918 - so Austria included the north tip of the lake at Riva del Garda and all the river Adige valley north of Avio. But in spite of being in Austria, the Trento province was Italian speaking and its culture was Italian; in a way, the situation was the reverse of the present one, where an Austrian culture zone is aggregated to Italy.
Going north along the Adige valley, the first German speaking village is Salorno/Salurn, about half way between Trento and Bolzano. Bolzano is actually twenty minutes driving from the linguistic border, so it is probably the closer place to visit with the flavor you are looking. All the area north of Bolzano would sport the same flavor, but of course it would be more distant.
Just to build on what the previous poster said... that region is split in two halves, Trentino and Alto Adige. Trentino was - and still is - an Italian-speaking province and is also the southernmost. Alto Adige, with the notable exception of its capital, Bolzano, is mainly populated by German-speaking people (but they do study Italian at school and can speak it... even if somewhat reluctantly); there's also a sizeable Italian-speaking minority in AA.
Both provinces were part of Austria-Hungary before 1918.
That's helpful. It seems like it might be worth the extra 20 minute drive to Bolzano. Thank you
first of all congrats for the excellent choice of Gargnano.
If you are looking for a beautiful Tyrolean town, I much prefer MERANO (Meran) to Bolzano and it's just 10 minutes further along the Adige Valley. Also Bolzano is the most Italian of that area and I don't find it overwhelmingly beautiful, certainly nowhere near what Merano looks like.
Bressanone would be my second choice after Merano (along the A22) just 20 min. north of Bolzano. Everything else is farther, but if you have time to swing by Ortisei (St.Ulrich) and Brunico (Bruneck), you will be happy. If you have all day and leave early you can visit all of the above.
We used to stay in a little town called Klausen, just up the valley into the Dolomites north of Bolzano. Very quaint, real, very German/Austrian in food and language. Not touristy at all and very atmospheric. There is a beautiful convent above town where the nuns still make wine from grapes that they grow on overhead trellises. Walk up there at sunset and you can hear them singing at evensong...
Thank you. It sounds like I'll have a number of options