Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy

Trentino-Alto Adige (in German Trentino-Südtirol) is an autonomous region of northeastern Italy. The region covers an area of 13,607 km² and borders with Lombardy, Veneto, Switzerland and Austria. It is made up of the provinces of Trento and Bolzano. The Vetta d'Italia is the northernmost point of the Italian state.

In addition to Italian, in the South Tyrolean area the majority of the population speaks German, while in Val Gardena, Val Badia and Val di Fassa Ladin is also spoken.

Spoken languages
The presence of many Italians who speak German as their mother tongue especially in the Bolzano area determines a dual language billboard in those areas. Differently in Trentino where this distinction does not exist but where there is a part of the population that knows German.

Culture and traditions
The Austrian cultural and historical influence determines a very precise and orderly character of the citizens. The cities show signs of great attention and quality of life comparable to beyond the Alps. If in the northern part people feel less Italian, because they mostly speak German, in the southern part it becomes the opposite. There is also a detached and less expansive cordiality compared to the southern regions.


Territories and tourist destinations

Trentino-Alto Adige is made up of two different territories from a historical-cultural point of view, the Autonomous Province of Trento and the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen. The first is identified with Trentino, the second with Alto Adige/Sud Tirol.

Trentino — It is the southern area of the Region; it borders with Lombardy to the west and south, with Veneto to the east and south. It extends from the northern tip of Lake Garda to the northern border with South Tyrol. Trentino is Italian-speaking, with a small German and Ladin minority, and is headed to Trento. Its main cities, after the capital Trento, are Rovereto, Pergine Valsugana, Arco, Riva del Garda, Mori.

Alto Adige - It is the northern area of the Region; it borders Trentino to the south, Lombardy, Switzerland and Austria to the west, which also borders it to the north, and Veneto to the east. Its main cities are, with the capital Bolzano, Merano, Bressanone, Laives and Brunico.


Urban centers

City of Trentino

Trent — Capital of the region, its symbol is the Castello del Buonconsiglio, the largest and most important monumental complex in Trentino-Alto Adige. From the 13th century to the end of the 18th century, it hosted the prince-bishops of Trento.
Andalo - Since the middle of the 20th century it has experienced a remarkable tourist development, quickly becoming a holiday resort of primary importance. The Paganella ski lifts and numerous accommodation facilities make it one of the most popular Trentino resorts during the winter season.
Arco — Between the mountains and Lake Garda, it preserves the Castle, the palaces and the villas with which the Habsburgs endowed it, who made it a place of climatic stay, recreation and treatment.
Madonna di Campiglio - One of the most famous summer resorts and winter sports resorts in the entire Alpine range, already renowned in the Habsburg era, when it could boast of being frequented by the Austrian imperial family.
Riva del Garda — Elegant center at the northern end of Lake Garda, it maintains the atmosphere of a holiday resort for the 19th century Austro-Hungarian nobility
Rovereto — Trentino's second city, is famous for its Bell of the fallen
San Martino di Castrozza — Tourist center in the upper Primiero valley dominated by the famous Dolomite group of the Pale di San Martino.
Molveno — holiday resort on the homonymous lake.


Spa towns

Peio — One of the most popular spas, it is also a well-known holiday resort appreciated for its lake.
Rabbi — More than half of the territory of the municipality of Rabbi is included in the Stelvio National Park, which makes it a place of great naturalistic interest.
Comano Terme - Locality in the municipality of Lomaso, in the Giudicarie valleys, it is in a narrowing of the Sarca valley.
Garniga Terme — The fundamental element of thermal treatments in Garniga is made up of herbs harvested early in the morning in the Viote meadows on Monte Bondone, with which grass baths (phytobalneotherapy) are practiced.
Vetriolo Terme — The highest thermal center in Europe joins the establishments of the municipal capital Levico Terme
Pozza di Fassa — In addition to thermal treatments, it has a well-developed tourist organization as a summer resort
Caderzone Terme — Recently established, its thermal baths are a further attraction for the already touristically known Val Rendena.
Roncegno — It combines spa treatments and climatic stay in a relaxing natural environment.
Levico Terme — One of the most popular spas, it is also a well-known holiday resort appreciated for its lake.
Arco — place of health and climatic stay already in the Hapsburg era.


City of South Tyrol

Bolzano (Bozen) - Main city of South Tyrol is its administrative and economic capital. Its historic center admirably blends the Nordic architectural and urban characteristics with the Italian ones, showing itself with a tone of stately elegance.
Brixen (Bressanone) - City with an important historical center enclosed by walls and gates. The Cathedral, its cloister with precious frescoes, the Bishop's Palace give an elegant imprint to the old city, with characteristic small villages that contrast with wide-ranging urban open spaces.



Other destinations

Prösels Castle
Reifenstein Castle
Runkelstein Castle
Schloss Brunnenburg

Dolomites - The beauty of this mountain group has found its culmination in the inclusion among the World Heritage Sites by Unesco.
Lake Garda — The Trentino tip of the lake includes the tourist centers of Riva del Garda, Arco, Torbole.
Madonna di Campiglio - One of the most famous summer resorts and winter sports resorts in the entire Alpine range, already renowned in the Habsburg era, when it could boast of being frequented by the Austrian imperial family.
Adamello-Brenta Natural Park — Consists of the mountain groups of the Adamello-Presanella massif (in part) to the west and the Brenta Group to the east, separated by Val Rendena. It is the largest protected area in Trentino. The symbol of the park is the brown bear.
Stelvio National Park — Crossed in its western section by state road 38 which passes through Trafoi and then continues through Val Venosta, the park has coniferous forests and eternal glaciers which allow skiing even in summer.
Val di Fassa — It is one of the most popular valleys for families for climatic tourism; the best equipped centers are Canazei and Moena.
Val di Funes — Due to its attention to promoting sustainable tourism and soft mobility, Funes is a member of the consortium of the Pearls of the Alps. Its valley is part of the tourist and administrative area of the Isarco Valley, whose capital and main city is Brixen.
Val Gardena — Its most famous centers are Ortisei, Selva di Val Gardena and Santa Cristina.
Val Rendena — With the centers of Madonna di Campiglio and Pinzolo.


How to get here

By plane
The only airport in the region is that of Bolzano where flights from Milan and Rome land. Verona airport is about 100 km from Trento and 150 km from Bolzano and can be easily reached from the A22 Brenner motorway.

By car
Brenner motorway A22.
State road SS47 of Valsugana.
Provincial state road SP350 of Valdastico.

On the train
The region is crossed from south to north by the Brennero Verona-Trento-Bolzano-Brennero-Innsbruck railway line of primary importance and international scope which connects peninsular Italy (from Verona it connects with the railway junctions of Milan, Bologna, Venice , allowing connections with the rest of the peninsula) with the Germanic world and the remaining states of Europe.
Line of interregional interest is the Trento – Venice, known as the Valsugana railway.
Local regional development are the Bolzano-Merano - Malles Venosta lines; the Trento-Malé-Marilleva: the Fortezza-Dobbiaco-San Candido.


Getting around

By bike
Cycle path of the Adige valley


What to see

Biotopo Lavini di Marco (Footsteps of the dinosaurs at Marco), Lavini di Marco, Rovereto. free. Free admission. It is a protected natural area where dinosaur footprints have been discovered, and due to its geological and archaeological particularity it has been protected as a biotope since 1992. The visit allows you to see the footprints and to understand the various geological and historical aspects of the area through explanatory signs.
Lake Ledro pile-dwelling museum, Molina di Ledro, Via al Lago 1 (Valle di Ledro),
Buonconsiglio Castle, Via Bernardo Clesio, 5 (Trento).
Castel Beseno, Via Castel Beseno (Besenello).
Lake of Lases (Lona-Lases).
Muse, Course on Work and Science, 3 (Trento).
Trento Cathedral (Cathedral of San Vigilio), Piazza del Duomo (Trento).
Palazzo delle Albere, Via Roberto da Sanseverino, 43 (Trento).
Doss Trento (Trento).
Palazzo Thun, Via Rodolfo Belenzani, 19 (Trento).
Piedicastello Galleries, Piazza di Piedicastello (Trento).


Events and parties

Trentino events
Itineraries Folk Festival of acoustic, ethnic and contemporary music, from mid-May to mid-August in Trento generally at the Centro S. Chiara (see Trento page)
The Sounds of the Dolomites High-altitude music festival, from the end of June to the end of August in various Alpine locations in Trentino.

South Tyrolean events
Christmas markets from the end of November to the end of December
Dolomiti Balloon Festival in January in Dobbiaco/Toblach
Moonlight Marathon cross-country ski marathon in the moonlight in January
Dobbiaco Cortina Marathon international cross-country skiing competition in February
Sellaronda Ski Marathon cross-country skiing night race in March
Appiano Castle Cavalcade in May, medieval riding tournaments, food and wine banquets surrounded by 180 Appiano castles
Show Wines of Bolzano in May
Jazz Festival in Bolzano in June
Alta Pusteria International Choir Festival in June in Val Pusteria
Maratona dles Dolomites cycling marathon that takes place in June and touches many places in the Dolomites
Gustav Mahler Music Week in the summer months in Dobbiaco/Toblach concerts dedicated to the famous Austrian composer



Some of the regional products are:
Zambana asparagus
Terlan asparagus
Val di Non apples
Val Venosta apples
Walnuts from Bleggio
Garda olive oil

Among the specialties of Trento you can find:
Potato tortelli (Val di Non)
Mortandela (Val di Non, not to be confused with Mortadella)
Dumplings (Knödel)
Stromboi (Strauben)
Roast potatoes
Storo polenta
Tonco del Pontesel
Stink of Moena
Salted meat
Press of the Giudicarie
Vezzena cheese
Casolet cheese
Trentingrana cheese

Among the specialties of Bolzano you can find:
Knödel (dumplings)
Strauben (Stromboi)
Schüttelbrot (crispy rye bread)
Vorschlag - Segalini
Meraner sausage



The following DOC wines are found in the Trento area: Casteller, Teroldego Rotaliano (red), Trentino and Trento, the latter a classic method sparkling wine.

In addition to these, the following wines are also worth mentioning: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Nosiola (white) and Santo (a passito from the Valle dei Laghi).

Also in Trentino you can find Grappa (the one from the Valle dei Laghi is of high quality), Parampampoli (coffee liqueur - Valsugana) and apple juice.

The following DOC wines are present in the territory of Alto Adige: Alto Adige, Delle Venezie, Lago di Caldaro, Valdadige, Valdadige Terradeiforti.

In addition to these, the following wines are also worth mentioning: Gewürztraminer (specialty of Traminer-Termeno, hence the name) and Lagrein.



In some areas in certain periods there is a risk of avalanches, ask the locals before venturing onto the mountain paths, otherwise it is better to only follow paths that you know or be accompanied by experts.

In the woods you are likely to encounter wild boars, bears or other wild animals which can become aggressive if they feel threatened by your presence.

Crime, on the other hand, is low even in major cities.



Dolomite passes — The itinerary runs through the most scenic passes of the Dolomites, where rock and nature are the protagonists.
Castles of South Tyrol — A journey to discover the South Tyrolean manors which, born for military purposes, then became largely refined stately homes, centers of culture, examples of fine architecture, testimony to the greatness of the families who had them built.
South Tyrolean Wine Road - The itinerary passes through 15 South Tyrolean municipalities (many of which have added the specification ....on the Wine Road to their official name) and involves an area of Oltradige-Bassa Atesina intensely cultivated with vines and rich in wine production among the most important of the peninsula.


Physical geography

Trentino-Alto Adige is the northernmost Italian region and is considered almost entirely mountainous with the exception of the Adige Valley and the Valle dei Laghi below 200 m and therefore considered plain. In particular, there are two large flat areas in the Autonomous Province of Trento: the Piana Rotaliana and the Basso Sarca. The mountain ranges rise to altitudes of over 3 900 m. In the southern part of the region, near the Trentino shore of Lake Garda, the altitude drops to 65 m a.s.l.

With its 13,607 km², Trentino-Alto Adige is one of the least densely populated Italian regions as it hosts about 1,050,000 inhabitants for a density of 78.98 inhab/km², well below the national average, ranking fifth from last, ahead of Valle d'Aosta, Basilicata, Sardinia and Molise in the ratio between number of inhabitants and land area.

Considering the orography of the territory, there are considerable differences between the density of inhabitants of the high mountain areas (where there have been phenomena of depopulation and migration towards the cities of the main valleys) and that of the main valleys, in particular the dell'Adige, where Trento and Bolzano are located.



The region borders Veneto to the east and south-east, Lombardy to the west and south-west, the Austrian Länder Tyrol and Salzburg to the north and north-east, and the Swiss canton of Grisons to the north-west. Valle Aurina is the northernmost valley in all of Italy and Predoi the northernmost inhabited center located between the foot of the valley and the Vetta d'Italia, on the Austrian border.

The region is between the Central and Eastern Alps, while to the south the border is delimited by Lake Garda and the Venetian Pre-Alps.



In the northern part of the region, on the Austrian border, along the line that goes from the Resia pass to the Monte Croce di Comelico pass, the Rhaetian Alps extend, reaching their maximum height in the Palla Bianca (3738 m a.s.l.) in the Aurina valley, the Western Twin Head (2837 m a.s.l.) has been recognized since 1997 as the northernmost point of the Italian peninsula. Traditionally, however, it is the Vetta d'Italia that is considered as the northern end of Italy.

In the western part of Trentino-Alto Adige rise the Ortles-Cevedale groups, including the Ortles, the highest peak of the region with its 3905 m above sea level, the Adamello-Presanella and the Brenta Dolomites.

In Trentino-Alto Adige stands the western section of the Dolomites (Sesto Dolomites, Puez Group, Odle, Sciliar, Sassolungo, Catinaccio, Marmolada, Sella group, Latemar, Pale di San Martino).

Continuing south, the mountains descend into the Pre-Alps.

The Alpine sections and subsections affecting the region can be grouped as follows, in order of section according to the SOIUSA:
Western Rhaetian Alps (Val Monastero Alps)
Eastern Rhaetian Alps (Ötztal Alps, Stubai Alps, Sarntal Alps)
Western Tauern Alps (Zillertal Alps, Hohe Tauern, Puster Alps)
Southern Rhaetian Alps (Ortles Alps, Val di Non Alps, Adamello and Paganella Alps, Brenta Dolomites)
Pre-Alps of Brescia and Gardesane (Prealpi Gardesane)
Dolomites (Sesto, Braies and Ampezzo Dolomites, Gardena and Fassa Dolomites, Feltre and Pale di San Martino Dolomites, Fiemme Dolomites).



Trentino-Alto Adige can be divided into two large geological areas: the predominantly siliceous one, which extends in the western and northern part, and the predominantly calcareous-dolomitic one, in the southern and eastern part.

The main valley is the Adige valley which extends from Merano to Rovereto passing through Bolzano and Trento.

Other Trentino valleys are the Primiero Valley, the Cembra Valley, the Fassa Valley, the Fiemme Valley, the Lagarina Valley, the Lakes Valley, the Ledro Valley, the Mocheni Valley, the Sole Valley, the Non (which extends both in Trentino and in Alto Adige), the Val Rendena (with its lateral valley, i.e. the Val Genova), the Valle delle Giudicarie (Valle del Chiese) and the Valsugana. Val Passiria, Val Martello, Valle Isarco, Val Gardena, Val Pusteria, Val Badia and Val Venosta are instead South Tyrolean

Val Monastero extends in Trentino-Alto Adige and in the Swiss canton of Grisons.



The Brenner Pass is the main border crossing between Italy and Austria. Other passes between the two villages are the Resia pass, the Stalle pass and the Rombo pass.

The Stelvio pass between Trentino-Alto Adige and Lombardy is the highest car pass in Italy. Even the Tonale pass unites the two regions.

The Porte del Pasubio, the Pordoi pass, the Valparola pass, the Cimabanche pass, the Monte Croce di Comelico pass, the Valles pass, the Fedaia pass and the Campolongo pass straddle the Veneto region.

The Mendola pass, the Rolle pass, the Sella pass, the Furcia pass, the Gardena pass, the Monte Giovo pass are internal passes in Trentino-Alto Adige.

Particular is the case of the San Pellegrino pass which, although connecting the locality of Moena in Val di Fassa (TN) with the town of Falcade in the Biòis valley (BL), is entirely included in the territory of Trentino-Alto Adige, as the border with Veneto is about four kilometers from the pass on the eastern side and not on the pass itself. The Vezzena Pass is similar, whose territory falls completely in Trentino between the municipalities of Levico and Luserna but in fact divides the Cimbrian plateaus (Luserna, Folgaria and Lavarone) from the Asiago plateau. The real border is located just before coming from Asiago in Termine.



Trentino-Alto Adige is rich in waterways. The main river is the Adige with its tributaries Passirio, Isarco (with its tributary Rienza), Noce and Avisio. The Brenta originates in Trentino-Alto Adige and flows into the Adriatic Sea, the Sarca is a tributary of Lake Garda and the Chiese is a tributary of the Po. The Drava originates in Alto Adige, where it flows for a few kilometers and subsequently enters Austrian territory, and is a tributary of the Danube. It represents the longest river that bathes, at least partially, the Italian territory.



The northern part of Lake Garda belongs to Trentino-Alto Adige, the largest lake in the region and in Italy, divided between Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto and Lombardy.

Lake Caldonazzo is the largest natural lake located entirely in the region. However, the largest internal basin in Trentino-Alto Adige is the artificial Lake Resia. The lake of Santa Giustina (artificial), the lake of Molveno, the lake of Ledro and the lake of Idro (natural) also exceed 2 km².

There are numerous lakes of glacial origin.



The climate of Trentino-Alto Adige has typical characteristics of the continental climate and of the alpine high mountain climate, above all in relation to the altitude. Based on the orography, exposure to the prevailing winds, altitude and the presence of large alpine lakes such as that of Garda, the climate can vary considerably, up to presenting the typical characteristics of the Mediterranean climate.

The rains vary according to the altitude and the orientation of the reliefs. In general, the greatest rainfall falls on the highest hills and in the southern and western sectors of the region, where the western and southern winds that accompany the passage of the Atlantic perturbations bring humidity: here the rains amount to 1200-1400 mm per year. Proceeding north and east, the Alps act as a barrier and the annual rainfall gradually decreases, falling below 1000 mm. Generally in the valley bottoms it falls from 700 to 900 mm, but in the northernmost valleys of Alto Adige, shielded by high hills, the annual rainfall falls below 600 mm per year. Precipitation falls mainly in summer in the Dolomites and in South Tyrol, while in the southern sector of the region the rainfall peaks are observed during the intermediate seasons. In winter, snowy precipitations prevail, more abundant on the hills. Precipitation is minimal in winter.

The most frequent winds come from the west and south especially during the intermediate seasons and in the summer. Conversely, in winter the currents from the north or east prevail, bringing cold and dry weather. The southern currents are mainly responsible for the bad weather episodes. Characteristic of the Alpine valleys is also the Foehn.

Summers are hot with values that easily exceed 30 °C and that in correspondence with heat waves can reach and even exceed 35 °C in the internal basins (particularly in the Bolzano basin). Winters are harsh. In South Tyrol and in the highest mountain areas, temperatures drop considerably below 0 °C and these are among the coldest sectors in Italy, with extreme values even below -30 °C. Winters are also harsh in the remaining areas of the region, but the protective action of the hills on one side and the mitigating action of Lake Garda on the other considerably dampens the winter rigors. During the intermediate seasons the temperatures undergo sudden variations, but generally the temperatures are quite mild with averages between 10 and 15 °C in the valley bottoms.



Due to the climatic and territorial nature, Trentino-Alto Adige has environments that favor considerably different types of flora. In the southernmost strip next to Lake Garda, the natural vegetation consists of oaks, chestnuts, manna ash trees and some typical Mediterranean species such as holm oaks and laurels. Vines, lemons and olive trees are also grown there.

To the north, hornbeams, beeches and maples prevail up to an altitude of 1200–1400 m. Further up, spruce, larches and birch trees prevail which above 2000 m give way to alpine pastures and typical tundra vegetation due to the rigidity of the climate.

The valleys of Trentino (Val di Non and Valsugana) and Alto Adige are suitable for the cultivation of fruit trees, especially apples.



Alpine fauna characterizes Trentino-Alto Adige. Chamois are quite frequent in the area between 1300 and 3000 m, roe deer in the range between 500 and 800 m. The ibex, already extinct in the past, was reintroduced in the Stelvio National Park in 1967. There are also deer. The marmot lives confined between 2000 and 3000 m (particularly in Val Rendena, in the Merano area and in general in western Trentino). Gray hares are found in the pre-Alpine region.

Among the carnivores the bear and the wolf should be mentioned. At the end of the nineties of the twentieth century only three bears were still present in the mountains of the Brenta Group. The situation has recovered and the bear population in Trentino-Alto Adige and in the surrounding areas was estimated in 2017 at around 52-63 specimens. The reappearance of the bear has aroused strong emotions among the population and a particular interest in the media (in particular the Bruno bear, shot down in Bavaria in 2006, and the Daniza bear, who died after being captured in 2014). The wolf, which disappeared in the second half of the 19th century, returned to Trentino-Alto Adige in 2008. Since then there have been some rare reports of its presence. At present, the wolf population is around fifty. The presence of the lynx, considered extinct, has also been re-detected.

Among the sedentary mountain birds are the capercaillie, rock partridge and gray partridge, as well as black grouse, eagle and eagle owl.


Protected areas

In the regional territory there is a national park, the Stelvio National Park, established in 1935, which also extends into Lombardy.

Trentino-Alto Adige also has ten provincial parks, two of which are in Trentino (including the Adamello-Brenta Provincial Park, which is the largest provincial park in the region) and eight in Alto Adige: among those in South Tyrol, the largest the Tessa Group Natural Park is large, while the Sciliar Natural Park is the first park established in the province of Bolzano (1974). The first provincial park to be established in the region was the Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino natural park in Trentino, in 1967.

There are also several regional reserves (including the integral nature reserve of the Tre Cime del Monte Bondone), special protection areas and other protected areas (biotopes, including the Laghetto di Gargazzone Biotope) present in Trentino-Alto Adige. Lake Tovel is included among the Italian wetlands on the Ramsar list.



Pre-Roman era

Archaeological finds demonstrate the presence of man in the valleys of Trentino-Alto Adige after the end of the last glaciation, around 12,000 BC. Settlements in the Adige valley date back to the Mesolithic era, the area most suited to human activities due to its climate and central position with respect to the lateral valleys.

The famous Similaun mummy, also known as Ötzi, would be around 5,300 years old. This places it in the Copper Age, a transitional moment between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age.

The Luco-Meluno culture developed between the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age. It originated in the 14th century BC. in the Adige valley between Trento and Bolzano and reached its peak between the 13th and 11th centuries BC, above all thanks to the extraction of copper, a material necessary for the production of bronze.

Around 500 BC. the Fritzens-Sanzeno culture, also known as the Rhaetian culture, developed and replaced the Luco-Meluno culture south of the Alpine divide and the Urnfield culture north of it. According to the Roman historian Tito Livio, the Reti would be of the same ethnic group as the Etruscans.


Roman times

The integration of the region into the dominions of Rome took place in the 1st century BC. The definitive defeat of the Reti, which took place near Bolzano, occurred following the military campaigns in the Alps by Drusus and Tiberius in 16 BC. In the 1st century BC. the city of Tridentum, current Trento, was also founded (although some scholars hypothesize a previous foundation, dating back to the Gallic invasion of the 3rd century BC). The city became a Roman municipium between 50 and 40 BC.

On the occasion of Augustus' administrative reform, the northern part of Trentino-Alto Adige was divided between the two provinces of Rezia (Raetia prima and Raetia secunda) and Noricum (Noricum), while the southern part which included the Val d'Adige up to Merano was included in the Regio X Venetia et Histria.

In the imperial age, Claudius (41-54 AD) understood the strategic importance of the Trentino area and exploited Trento's position by completing two major roads: the Via Claudia Augusta Padana, which from Ostiglia reached the Resia Pass, and the Via Claudia Augusta Altinate which , starting from the then important port of Altino, it rejoined the Trentino capital with the Padana through the Valsugana.

The Roman period lasted for five centuries and left deep traces in the region which was heavily Latinised. The native populations developed a neo-Latin dialect in which the Rhaetian-Celtic substrate, the so-called Rhaeto-Romance, merged.

After the year 400 AD, in late Roman times, Christianity spread, increasingly influencing public and private life.


Germanic period and of the episcopal principalities

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476, the region was overrun by Germanic barbarians. This led to the inclusion in the Kingdom of Odoacer and later in the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths (493-553). After the fall of the Ostrogothic kingdom it was the turn of the Lombards, who annexed the region to their kingdom. The Lombards founded the Duchy of Trento, which also included Bolzano.

In 774 Trentino-Alto Adige passed under the dominion of the Franks, who under Charlemagne conquered the Lombard Kingdom, including it in the framework of the Carolingian Empire. In the Carolingian age, by virtue of its strategic position, the area was often involved in periods of turbulence due to the wars of dynastic succession. With the Treaty of Verdun of 843, a part of Trentino-Alto Adige, including the Val d'Adige up to Merano, was assigned to the Kingdom of Italy governed by Lothair I, while the other valleys, which often remained the subject of dispute for control of the Alpine passes, went to the Kingdom of the East Franks where Louis II the German reigned. In the long run, this division led to the progressive Germanization of the South Tyrolean area, while the Trentino area managed over the centuries to maintain its character as a deeply Latinized territory. With the reign of Berengario I, the march of Trent entered the orbit of the more powerful march of Verona.

Having arrived in Italy following the call of Queen Adelaide, on 10 October 951 Otto I of Saxony assumed the title of rex Francorum et Italicorum in Pavia and the following year he assigned the brand of Verona to his brother, the Duke of Bavaria Enrico. Due to Henry's repeated rebellions, Emperor Otto II assigned the march of Verona to the duke of Carinthia Otto of Worms, who separated the march of Trento from that of Verona.

It was the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II who granted the bishops of Trento and Bressanone temporal power over their respective dioceses in 1027. The bishopric principalities of Trento (which included Trentino and part of Alto Adige) and Bressanone (which also included territories now part of Austria) survived until the Napoleonic secularization of 1803.

During the 12th century, the rise of the noble houses began to the detriment of the power of the two prince-bishops. The Counts of Tirolo succeeded in establishing themselves, a lineage that took its name from the homonymous castle near Merano. It was Mainard II who gave the Tyrol region the boundaries which then, with minimal expansions, remained unchanged until 1918. In 1363 Margherita of Gorizia-Tirolo was forced following political pressure to cede the county of Tyrol to the Duke of Austria Rudolf IV of Habsburg. The Hapsburg era began, interrupted by the Napoleonic wars.

The southern part of the region saw a brief affirmation of the Republic of Venice, which began in 1411, when the Republic of San Marco, as a result of the will of Azzone Francesco di Castelbarco, took possession of territories in Vallagarina, in particular of Ala, Avio, Brentonico and part of Mori. Rovereto was taken in 1416. In 1426 the Val di Ledro and Tignale passed under Venice. Venetian expansionism did not stop and in 1441 the peace of Cavriana sealed the conquest of Torbole and Riva del Garda. In 1509 the expansion of Venice, defeated by the League of Cambrai, could be stopped and the Serenissima was gradually forced to abandon the Trentino possessions. The operations in Val Vestino (1510-1517) ended with the definitive Venetian retreat.

The rebirth of the Episcopal Principality of Trento, now strictly within the Tyrolean-Habsburg sphere of control, took place in the first half of the 16th century, when Bernardo Clesio (1514-1538) from Trento was appointed head of the Trentino diocese, followed by Cristoforo Madruzzo (1539-1567, from 1545 cardinal). Due to its geographical and historical-cultural position as a median city between the Italian and Germanic worlds, in 1542 Trento was chosen as the seat for the Council of Church Reform (1545-1563).

During the 17th and 18th centuries the Episcopal Principalities saw their autonomy once again reduced in favor of the County of Tyrol.


Napoleonic era and Habsburg Restoration

The Napoleonic era also marked the history of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. In 1796 Trento was invaded by Napoleonic troops and following the repeated defeats of the Habsburgs, the Treaty of Lunéville (February 9, 1801) established the secularization of the ecclesiastical states, marking the end of the bishopric principalities of Trento and Bressanone, which became part of Austria. Following the Peace of Pressburg (today's Bratislava, 26 December 1805) the region passed under the pro-Napoleonic Kingdom of Bavaria, remaining there until 1810. Some measures adopted by the Bavarian administration, such as the elimination of the Diet, the suppression ecclesiastical and religious holidays, the obligation to military service and the heavy taxation caused an anti-Napoleonic insurrection in the spring, then repressed, led by Andreas Hofer. The movement exploded at the moment of the resumption of hostilities between Napoleon and Austria; it saw the participation of both the German-speaking population of today's Tyrol and Alto Adige/Südtirol, and (albeit to a lesser extent) the Italian-speaking population of today's Trentino.

The Treaty of Paris between France and Bavaria of 28 February 1810 marked the annexation to the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy of a large part of Trentino and some parts of today's province of Bolzano in the department of Alto Adige (it was at this time that coined the term Alto Adige), while Primiero and the area around Dobbiaco were aggregated to the Piave department. The territory north of the "Napoleonic line" which went from the saddle of Dobbiaco to Cevedale remained part of the Kingdom of Bavaria. The German-speaking populations incorporated in the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy were guaranteed the use of German in all administrative and judicial offices, as well as in all public deeds.

This arrangement was swept away by the resumption of hostilities in 1813 and by the reconquest of the territory by the Habsburg troops. The Restoration of 1815 confirmed the end of the Episcopal principality of Trento, also marking the definitive end of Trentino's political autonomy. With an imperial license dated 24 March 1816, Trentino was incorporated into the county of Tyrol, with a German majority. In 1818 the princely county of Tyrol, including the territories inhabited by Italian-speaking populations, became part of the German Confederation. Nevertheless, in today's Trentino the language used in public offices, in the courts and in teaching remained Italian.


The Renaissance

The arrangement of the county of Tyrol aroused widespread discontent in today's Trentino, where it was believed that the Innsbruck authorities did not invest sufficient public resources in their territory and did not allow its citizens access to the highest levels of administration.

In 1848 the Trentino claims of autonomy from Innsbruck began. The Trentino representatives refused to participate in the Tyrolean constituent Diet in Innsbruck due to the unjust disproportion of the representation assigned to them. The term Trentino began to be used to indicate the desire to separate the Italian-speaking territories from the rest of Tyrol. Trentino's requests for autonomy met strong opposition from the Tyrolean authorities and were never satisfied by the Habsburg imperial power.

The Habsburg Empire, which after the Restoration became the hegemonic power in the Italian peninsula, was a powerful adversary of the Italian Risorgimento; however, this failed to prevent the birth of the Kingdom of Italy, which was proclaimed in 1861. The process of unification of the newborn Italian state was not complete, however, since many territories inhabited by Italian communities, including Trentino, remained under Austrian control ; as a result, irredentism was consolidated. Irredentism also involved South Tyrol even if only a small minority of the population declared themselves Italian-speaking, and found its foundation in the principle of the natural border, since the South Tyrolean territory re-entered the geographical borders of the Italian peninsula and the Brenner border being militarily relevant .

The third Italian war of independence also involved the territory of Trentino-Alto Adige, with the invasion led by Giuseppe Garibaldi. Despite the Italian victory at Bezzecca, Trentino-Alto Adige remained Hapsburg, while Veneto and Friuli were united with the Kingdom of Italy.


At the turn of the century

At the 1910 census, the majority of the inhabitants of Trentino-Alto Adige (Welschtirol and Deutsch-Südtirol according to the Habsburg denomination) were overall Italian-speaking. In Trentino, out of 362,684 inhabitants, 96.4% were Italian-speaking and 2.9% German-speaking, while in South Tyrol, out of 279,213, 83.4% were German-speaking, 2.6% Italian-speaking and 13. 2% Ladin speaking.

Economically, the Trentino-Tyrolean territory in the Habsburg era was a region based above all on agriculture and breeding in small and medium-sized family-owned farms, of which the smallest and most numerous were found above all in the Italian-speaking part.

Regional agriculture had suffered severely from the great agrarian crisis that began in the 1870s. To the collapse in the prices of agricultural products had been added the diseases of the vine and the silkworm, as well as the violent flood of 1882. The Italian-speaking part was the most affected and tens of thousands of its inhabitants had to leave their land to emigrate to Europe or in the Americas.

The recovery of agriculture occurred only with the beginning of the 20th century. The cooperative movement, mostly of Catholic inspiration and widespread among both the Italian and German-speaking populations, played a fundamental role in reviving the fortunes of regional agriculture.[28] The only industry of any importance was hydroelectricity.

From the last fifteen years of the 19th century onwards, the linguistic diversity between Italian and German-speaking speakers began to become a cause for conflict. Symbols of this dispute were two monuments: the one to Walther von der Vogelweide in Bolzano (built in 1889) and the one to Dante Alighieri in Trento (built in 1896). These were the effigies of two poets who wanted to symbolize the link between the language of use and belonging to a people and a land.

The national conflict between German-speaking and Italian-speaking was not the only fault line crossing regional society, the clash between the Catholic world and the proponents of secularism (liberals or socialists) was equally virulent in both linguistic groups.


World War I

With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, a large part of the male population, both German and Italian-speaking, was enlisted in the imperial royal army. Constitutional guarantees were suspended, parliament closed and the press censored.

At the beginning of the world war, Austria-Hungary and Italy both adhered to the Triple Alliance, which was defensive in nature and did not contemplate Italian intervention alongside the Austro-Germans (who were the powers declaring war). Italy initially maintained its neutrality, but in exchange for territorial concessions including South Tyrol under the terms of the secret Treaty of London, signed in April 1915, it declared war on Austria-Hungary.

While South Tyrol was largely spared from the war events, Trentino became one of the main battlefields (the conflict also took place on the glaciers where it took the name of the White War). The war caused considerable destruction and a real exodus of the Trentino people: tens of thousands were displaced in the so-called wooden cities in Austria (in particular Braunau am Inn and Mitterndorf), large refugee camps in which many died of hunger and disease. The refugees from Trentino found themselves in equally dramatic conditions, coming from the towns and valleys occupied by the Royal Italian Army who between May 1915 and May 1916 had to leave their land to be scattered in various locations in the Kingdom of Italy. Furthermore, with Italy's entry into the war, Trentino society found itself split by the conflict: the Trentino soldiers enlisted in the imperial royal army found themselves enemies of the irredentists who, like Cesare Battisti, chose to flee to the Kingdom of Italy and enlist in the Royal Army. To this must be added the political repression both on the Austrian side, with the irredentists interned in the Katzenau camp, and on the Italian side, with the Austrians punished with imprisonment.

Following the Italian victory, the Treaty of Saint-Germain confirmed the passage of Trentino-Alto Adige (originally called Venezia Tridentina) to the Kingdom of Italy. This annexation sanctioned the dismemberment of the ancient County of Tyrol (in the extension it had since 1814) and the unification of Trentino and Alto Adige with Italy, i.e. about two thirds of it.



On 10 September 1919, with the Treaty of Saint Germain, the victorious powers of the Great War arranged for the division of the territories that had been part of the dissolved Austro-Hungarian empire. The following year, with the laws of annexation of the Venezia Giulia and Venezia Tridentina regions (the current Trentino-Alto Adige region), the passage of these territories under the sovereignty of the Italian state was made official, thus incorporating into the Kingdom of Italy also 220,000 German- and Ladin-speaking Tyroleans.

If at first the liberal governments pursued a fairly tolerant policy towards the German minorities, the fascist government which had taken over instead pursued a policy of violent assimilation of the German and Ladin-speaking minorities and a progressive Italianization of South Tyrol, encouraging the arrival of immigrants from Trentino and the rest of Italy (especially northeastern Italy). German-speaking schools were gradually suppressed. The German-speaking press was largely censored. The use of German toponyms was prohibited. Even names and surnames of people were officially Italianized.

In January 1923, a Royal Decree sanctioned the creation of the province of Trento (including Bolzano) and the extension of Italian legislation to its territory, which thus replaced the Austro-Hungarian legislation in force up to that moment. The Ladin municipalities of Livinallongo del Col di Lana, Colle Santa Lucia and Cortina d'Ampezzo were dismembered from the regional context and merged with the province of Belluno, Pedemonte and Casotto were unified with the name of Pedemonte and aggregated with the province of Vicenza, Magasa and Valvestino aggregated to the province of Brescia.

On 2 January 1927, a Royal Decree sanctioned the birth of the province of Bolzano, which was distinct from the province of Trento. This new administrative configuration saw the end of Trento's role as regional capital and the diversion of the most important investments towards the new South Tyrolean capital. In fact, the creation of establishments of the major industrial companies was encouraged, in order to employ workers from all over Italy, many of whom went to live in the large buildings built on the outskirts of Bolzano. In this way the Italian-speaking South Tyroleans increased from 6,950 in 1910 to 80,800 in 1939, out of a total of 234,650 inhabitants in the province of Bolzano.

Following the rapprochement of Fascist Italy with Nazi Germany, the options in Trentino-Alto Adige were implemented. The German-speaking population was forced to choose whether to become German citizens and consequently move to the territories of the Third Reich or whether to remain Italian citizens by integrating into Italian culture and refusing to be recognized as a linguistic minority. The majority of German-speaking residents, who had suffered severe political, economic and social marginalization by the fascist regime, declared themselves in favor of emigrating. However, the outbreak of the Second World War slowed down the exodus operations and about a third of the expatriates returned to Italy after the conflict. Among the reasons for joining the options were the pressures and violence exerted by the local Nazi organizations against the Dableiber (the German-speaking inhabitants who had opted for Italy and therefore to remain in their own land), in the substantial indifference of the authorities Italians who in the crucial months for the options let the legend circulate that whoever refused to move to Germany would be deported to Sicily. Thus it was that 86% of German-speaking South Tyroleans opted for Nazi Germany (the number of German-speaking Trentino citizens opted for Nazi Germany). In all, there were 213,000 people, of whom 75,000 actually left their homeland. In addition, the South Tyrolean optants of military age served in the German army and law enforcement agencies, being involved, among other things, in the Fosse Ardeatine massacre.

Despite the alliance, Mussolini didn't trust Hitler too much and had several fortified works built along the border: the Vallo Alpino del Littorio. Despite the enormous effort for its construction in a few years (1939-1942), these works, although some were not yet fully completed in terms of armaments, were never used.


Second World War

Following the armistice signed by Italy with the Allies, the entire region (together with the province of Belluno) was established as the Operations Zone of the Pre-Alps (in German Operationszone Alpenvorland) with the capital Bolzano, de facto annexed to the Third Reich, even if it continued to be formally part of the Italian Social Republic. Men in the age groups from 1894 to 1926 were forced to perform war service in the Order Service of the Province of Bolzano (SOD), the Trentino Security Corps (CST), the SS, the Wehrmacht, the FlaK (German anti-aircraft units) and in South Tyrol also in the police regiments (Südtiroler Polizeiregimenter, including the Polizeiregiment "Bozen"). From 1943 to 1945 the Habsburg-Tyrolean territorial integrity that had been shattered in 1918 was practically re-established.

The violence of the occupiers acted unevenly in the provinces of the Alpine foothills zone of operations. In Bolzano, the Nazis set out to liberate the German population from the twenty-year pressure of the Italian state. In the capital city they set up the Bolzano transit camp, the last stop for the deportees from the peninsula before the extermination camps of central Europe. In South Tyrol there were two different resistances, one Italian-speaking led by the Bolzano National Liberation Committee and one German-speaking led by the Andreas Hofer Bund; both could do little from a strictly military point of view due to the strong Nazi presence. However, their actions in intelligence gathering, propaganda and support given to dodgers and deserters from the German army should be reported.

In Trentino, however, the Nazi occupiers encouraged local autonomy by appointing Adolfo De Bertolini (a former liberal exponent who never compromised with fascism) Prefectural Commissioner. In the Trentino area, the presence of large partisan formations was not recorded, such as those active in the neighboring provinces of Vicenza and Belluno (areas in which many Trentino anti-fascists fought). The ban on rebuilding the fascist party, the decision not to send young people to the front in the German army or in that of the Italian Social Republic but to place them in a corps considered local police such as the CST, the illusion of local autonomy they were all moves that allowed the Nazi authorities to prevent the rise of a strong partisan movement in the province of Trento. To this we must add the killings and arrests that on 28 June 1944 beheaded the Trentino resistance and the local CLN, leading to the death of Giannantonio Manci who was at its head.

The Nazi parenthesis was also marked in Trentino-Alto Adige by the extermination of the Jewish population, by massacres against Italian soldiers and partisans (massacre of Lasa, massacre of Malga Zonta, massacres of Ziano, Stramentizzo and Molina di Fiemme, killings of 28 June 1944 in Rovereto, Arco and Riva del Garda) and from persecutions against the German-speaking inhabitants who had not opted for Germany.

Trento and also Bolzano were bombed by the allies from 2 September 1943 until 3 May 1945. The Portela massacre occurred during the first bombing of Trento.


Republican Italy and autonomy

After the end of the Second World War, the Trentino autonomist demands, repressed during Fascism, were taken up by the Associazione Studi Autonomistici Regionali (A.S.A.R), which claimed special autonomy for the entire Trentino-Alto Adige region. The movement had a large popular following and on 20 April 1947 managed to bring as many as 30,000 people to Piazza di Fiera in Trento. In South Tyrol, on the other hand, secessionist pressures prevailed, already in 1946 155,000 signatures had been collected to obtain the annexation to Austria.

The De Gasperi-Gruber agreement sanctioned that the province of Bolzano remained in Italy, providing adequate protection for the German-speaking inhabitants of South Tyrol. On the initiative of De Gasperi from Trentino, the Autonomous Region of Trentino-Alto Adige was created on the ashes of Tridentine Venice, which was endowed with the first statute of autonomy. In this way, the search for forms of autonomy that had always been requested by the people of Trentino was crowned with success, but South Tyrol's autonomy was weakened because it was linked to an Italian-speaking majority. In compliance with the De Gasperi-Gruber agreement, the first statute of Trentino-Alto Adige restored the teaching of German and re-established bilingual toponymy. Until the mid-1950s, the Christian Democrats and the Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP), the reference party of the German-speaking population originally led by members of the Resistance to Nazism, collaborated in the management of the regional body.

In the mid-1950s, following the return of many optants from Germany and the re-establishment of the Austrian Republic, determined to support claims, South Tyrolean politics radicalized. The Italian government was accused of not fully implementing the autonomistic agreements concerning the self-government of the German-speaking population and of continuing attempts at Italianization. The German-speaking press and clergy entered the ethnic controversy by evoking a "death march" orchestrated by the Italian government against the German-speaking population through industrialization and immigration from other regions of Italy. To the alarming figures, released by the canon Michael Gamper, which indicated "50,000 Italian immigrants in South Tyrol in the last seven years" replied a study by the Government Commissariat and the Central Institute of Statistics which quantified the increase in the Italian population between 1947 and 1953 in the figure of just over 8,000 units, linked to the post-war reactivation of state and military offices and the reorganization of public works. However, radicalization did not stop and the line of the Südtiroler Volkspartei was dictated by new elements, some of which were linked to Nazism in the past. In all municipalities with a SVP majority (all of South Tyrol except then Bolzano, Bronzolo, Egna, Fortezza, Merano, Laives, Salorno and Vadena) the issuing of new residences for Italians was suspended; propaganda was made against intermarriage; total ethnic separation was implemented in schools and buildings between people of the Italian and German language groups; the suspension of public housing works was requested since this would have favored Italian immigration; the dismantling of the industrial area of Bolzano was also requested.

Radicalization led to the birth of terrorist movements: the Stieler Group, perpetrator of various damages; the Committee for the liberation of South Tyrol, which also pursued a massacre strategy that caused deaths throughout the region and also in Veneto (Cima Vallona massacre). The Italian government responded to terrorism with a massive military presence in South Tyrol.

Following new negotiations between Italy and Austria, the so-called Alto Adige Package was signed (the set of measures in favor of the German-speaking population) and in 1972 the second statute of Trentino-Alto Adige came into force, which is still favors the autonomy of the two provinces, which in fact constitute two autonomous regions, only formally reunited in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol Region. Since 1972 the historical and political destinies of Trentino and Alto Adige have followed separate paths.

As regards South Tyrol, the second statute of autonomy handed over the political majority to the German group and institutionalized ethnic separation through the so-called ethnic proportional system. In fact, in the autonomous province of Bolzano importance is given to the language of belonging (Italian, German, Ladin), with a distribution proportional to the consistency of the linguistic groups in the attribution of public jobs, public contributions and assignment of social housing; schools (including nursery schools) are divided according to belonging to the linguistic group. All employees and officials of the Province of Bolzano must be bilingual, ie speak at least Italian and German.

Nevertheless, the terrorist attacks in South Tyrol resumed strongly in the second half of the seventies of the twentieth century, to end only at the end of the eighties. Alongside German-speaking extremist groups, in particular Ein Tirol, in favor of detachment from Italy, Italian organizations also appeared, such as the Italian Protection Association (Api) and the Italian Adige Movement (MiA), contrary to the provisions contained in the second statute of autonomy. South Tyrol's reconciliation was achieved at the end of the 1980s and coincided with a long period of economic prosperity, until the outbreak of the Eurozone crisis. After a troubled past, South Tyrol is now seen as an example of peaceful coexistence between ethnic groups.

The recent history of Trentino has been marked by the two tragedies of the Cermis cableways (1976 and 1998) and by the Val di Stava catastrophe in 1985.

Since the 1990s, cross-border cooperation between the regions of historic Tyrol between Italy and Austria has been strengthened. Together Trentino-Alto Adige and Austrian Tyrol form the Euregio Tyrol-Alto Adige-Trentino, a European cross-border cooperation group, whose meetings in the past also included the Land of Vorarlberg.