The Sud Tirol

One of the things we enjoy most about our Arts Sojourns is introducing others to the country we’ve come to love. Barbara and I remember our first visit more than twenty years ago and how it impacted our lives for the good.

What we didn’t discover on our first trip was this country’s amazing diversity, from landscape, to culture, customs, and cuisine. In 1996, when we first visited the Sud Tirol, Italy’s northernmost region bordering Austria, we were disappointed. The strong Germanic flavor did not fit the naive vision we had of the country at the time.

Via Portici in the heart of the medieval center

We spent three weeks in Bressanone, also known as Brixen, far to the north. The region is bilingual, and in Bressanone, German is generally preferred. We made a day trip south to Bolzano, AKA Bozen, larger, more cosmopolitan, and a bit more “Italian.” The city impressed us then and we wanted to visit again.

The entrance to Castel Roncolo

Castel Roncolo – a very pleasant 30 minute walk from Bolzano center

Barbara and I usually try and spend some time exploring new areas before we meet up with our Sojourn groups. We approach these as “dry runs” for possible future Sojourns, trying to gain as much expertise as we can.

Last June we returned to the Sud Tirol and based in Bolzano. We loved it!! The Dolomite alps, the fascinating blend of cultures, the great variety of cuisine, our fantastic hotel, all left us longing to return to Bolzano with a group.

Looking down on Bolzano from the Renon cable car

It’s difficult to choose only one favorite experience in Bolzano, but I would have to say it was the day we took the Renon cable car up to Soprabolzano, and then the old-time railroad along the high plateau to Klobenstein (or Collalbo depending upon whether you’re feeling German or Italian.

Dolomite Alps from the Renon cable car

A beautiful view from the Renon Railway outside of Soprabolzano


From there we made the easy hike to the piramidi (pronounced pee RAM eh dee), rare and amazing natural earth formations. Along the way we heard live cuckoos for the first time, and yes, they sound just like the clocks. We followed that with a delicious lunch back in Soprabolzano, with a killer view of the dolomites.

San Genesio – Another cable car ride from Bolzano.

We took more hikes, rode other cable cars, visited castles and the Archeological Museum to see the amazing “Iceman,” the mummified copper age man discovered by hikers in a melting glacier in 1991.

“Otzi” – The “Iceman” in Bolzano’s Archeological Museum. This is actually a lifelike full-size replica. The real “Otsi” is in a refrigerated box and does not look quite this good.

We crammed a tremendous amount of “research” into a fairly short time, but feel as if we’ve only scratched the surface. We can’t wait to share this wonderful and unique part of Italy with our Sojourners in June of 2019.

Matthew Daub is a professional artist and university professor with works in major public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe. He has been leading plein air painting workshops in Italy since 1994. In 1999, Matthew and his wife Barbara formed Arts Sojourn as “a vacation for artists and their friends.” The program is designed to appeal to artists of all levels as well as non-artists who enjoy the company of creative people in a slow travel format.

Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.


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