The province of Bolzano (Alto Adige) consists of 116 cities and is the second largest province of Italy. Its number of inhabitants is around 530,000. The capital is Bolzano. Since German is the main language in this part of Italy, most cities have two names. It is one of two provinces making up the region of Trentino-Alto Adige.
The Capitol Bolzano (Bozen)
The capital is the city of Bolzano, which has more than 100,000 inhabitants. It is nowhere near the biggest city of the province as far as territory is concerned, however. Bolzano is considered to be one of Italy’s most livable cities. Its main attractions are the Piazza Walther, the Cathedral, the Piazza delle Erbe and the Dominican Church.
Most important cities
Other cities in Bolzano Province with interesting tourist attractions are Brunico, Bressanone, Glorenza, Malles Venosta, Merano, Ortisei, Rio di Pusteria, Rodengo, Sluderno, Tirolo, Varna, Velturno and Vipiteno.
The best known nature reserve in the province of Bolzano is the Stelvio National Park. Since the province is partly in the Alps and partly in the Dolomites, it is particularly liked by nature lovers. The whole area is characterized by mountain and hilltop views and there are picturesque woods and rivers everywhere.
The other cities in Bolzano Province
Aldino, Andriano, Anterivo, Appiano sulla Strada del Vino, Avelengo, Badia, Barbiano, Braies, Brennero, Bronzolo, Caines, Caldaro sulla strada del vino, Campo Tures, Campo di Trens, Castelbello-Ciardes, Castelrotto, Cermes, Chienes, Chiusa, Cornedo all’Isarco, Cortaccia sulla strada del vino, Cortina sulla strada del vino, Corvara in Badia, Curon Venosta, Dobbiaco, Egna, Falzes, Fiè allo Sciliar, Fortezza, Funes, Gais, Gargazzone, La Valle, Laces, Lagundo, Laion, Laives, Lana, Lasa, Lauregno, Luson, Magrè sulla Strada del Vino, Marebbe, Marlengo, Martello, Meltina, Monguelfo-Tesido, Montagna, Moso in Passiria, Nalles, Naturno, Naz-Sciaves, Nova Levante, Nova Ponente, Ora, Parcines, Perca, Plaus, Ponte Gardena, Postal, Prato allo Stelvio, Predoi, Proves, Racines, Rasun Anterselva, Renon, Rifiano, Salorno sulla Strada del Vino, San Candido, San Genesio Atesino, San Leonardo in Passiria, San Lorenzo di Sebato, San Martino in Badia, San Martino in Passiria, San Pancrazio, Santa Cristina Valgardena, Sarentino, Scena, Selva dei Molini, Selva di Val Gardena, Senale-San Felice, Senales, Sesto, Silandro, Stelvio, Terento, Terlano, Termeno sulla strada del vino, Tesimo, Tires, Trodena nel parco naturale, Tubre, Ultimo, Vadena, Val di Vizze, Valdaora, Valle Aurina, Valle di Casies, Vandoies, Verano, Villabassa, Villandro.
Archaeological finds, including a mummified corpse, indicate that the territory now existing as the province of Bolzano was already inhabited in the Stone Age, probably by hunters and shepherds. Between the Bronze and the Iron Age, the first agricultural settlements were created. In several cities in the area you can still see remains of the castellieri (fortified hamlets, from the 15th till the 3rd century BC).
Under the Romans many castellieri developed into fortified cities. The first ones to conquer the territory were Augustus‘ stepsons Drusus and Tiberius in 15 BC. An important event was the construction of the consular road Via Claudia Augusta, which connected the north of Italy to the Danube, in the 1st century AD.
In the early middle ages, the area was invaded by various northern European peoples. These included the Goths, the Franks, the Lombards and the Bavarians.
In 788 the entire Tyrol area became part of Charlemagne‘s Empire.
In 1207, the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II, gave the bishops of Bressanone and Trento political power over the area, which was thus divided into two principalities. This situation lasted until 1803, when the attribution of political power became more secular. Of course, the actual rulers changed many times during this long period of time, and in the 15th century the area was even, briefly, part of the Republic of Venice. Most of the time, however, the area was under control of Tyrol.
Toward the end of the 15th century, under King Maximilian I, the Tyrol area had started expanding both into Germany and into Italy. In 1522 the two brothers Charles V and Ferdinand I split up the area between themselves. The latter became the ruler over Tyrol. In 1564, under the Habsburgers, Tyrol became independent.
In 1665 the last member of the House of Habsburg died and emperor Leopold I inherited Tyrol. When he proclaimed the indivisibility of the Austrian territories, Tyrol lost its autonomy.
Toward the end of the 18th century the war between the Austrian and French troops was the beginning of the end of the ecclesiastical principality. It was under Napoleon that the name Alto Adige came to be used. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 made the area part of the Habsburg empire.
Until World War I broke out Tyrol remained Austrian, although the population gradually obtained more rights. Italy asked for their territories to be returned, but ended up having to declare war on the Austrians (May 23rd, 1915). The Austrians having been defeated, when the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye was signed (December 10th, 1919) Italy got the whole of South-Tyrol up to the Brenner Pass back.
During Mussolini‘s fascist reign the German speaking population of the area was discriminated against. Many people subsequently moved to Germany.
After World War II the province of Bolzano-Alto Adige was granted autonomy through the Degasperi-Gruber pact of 1946. Its bilingual status was also officially recognized. In reality, the pact did not have much effect on the way the people were treated. The 1960’s were characterized by violent protests, a situation which was resolved in 1972.
Only in 1992 Austria officially gave up any claim on the area.