We just spent 3 nights in Merano after years of contemplating making a stop. We spend a lot of time up in the Val Gardena and Alpe di Siusi but never carved out time for Merano.
It is a delightful small city with a charming historical center and links to Austrian royalty. Most of the tourists here are German right now. One couple told us they come often as it is only 3 hours by car for room their home in Bavaria. And they are comfortable here because German is by far the preferred language of the locals. In fact, I feel odd speaking Italian and find responses from locals are often in German!
There is good walking here (The Tappeinerweg and the various waalwegs ) and a delightful garden at Trauttmansdorff Castle. We wiled away 3 hours there and could have stayed longer to do every path. Since Merano is on a train line, it is an easy stop only an hour from Bolzano. No cow-culture as it is not actually in the mountains, but it is in a high valley surrounded by peaks with vineyards and orchards galore.