Wanderlust: Bolzano Region, Northern Italy

J&A Wanderlust

Feb 7, 2019

Bolzano Region and Dolomites in Northern Italy // Travel // Huntsville Photographers

After the highlight post from our trip, we shared even more of our favorite memories from Milan, Cinque Terra and Pisa, Florence, Tuscany and Siena, and Verona (including a photo shoot of our own!). Today we’re giving you a glimpse into our amazing time in the Italian Alps!

I’m really excited to share this blog post because the Bolzano region in Italy is one most people aren’t familiar with! If you had asked me about the Dolomites only a year before this trip, I would have had no clue what you were talking about. Maybe you’re a geographical guru and already knew about these northern Italy gems. If so, just humor me and everyone else who must have missed over that page in geography class.

How we went from Rome to Bolzano

So how did we end up spending a day in the Italian Alps? Joel sent me an email about a year ago, well before this trip was in the works. The email had a link to a video of some guy driving on “one of the most beautiful drives in the world”. The drive took place in the Dolomites of northern Italy, and Joel thought it looked amazing. He loves those curvy roads with a view.

Fast forward to our somewhat last minute trip to Italy, and Joel really wanted to add northern Italy to our itinerary. We spent some time debating because it meant taking Rome off our travel plans. I eventually agreed (how can I resist his sweet face?), and the Bolzano region it was.

We were definitely thankful for it later when we discovered that adding Austria, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland would be so easy once we were already that far north. It was a win-win for us both! The experience was spectacular, and we would recommend it.

Along the way

Our path north involved stops at a few small towns along the way. After we left Verona, we didn’t have really definite plans for the rest of the trip. We had AirBnBs lined up and knew our general destinations, but there was a lot more ambiguity in our route.

We gave ourselves enough time during these last few days to be able to slow down just a little bit. So come along and get a glimpse at our time in the Bolzano region of northern Italy!


As soon as we left Verona, we entered a countryside filled with apple orchards. It happened to be harvest time, which was so fun! If you look closely in this next picture, you can see the edge of an orchard.

These neat little apple trucks were everywhere. In the fields, on the roads, and in the parking lots.

Our first little town stop was Bolzano. (Yes, Bolzano is one of the main towns in the Bolzano region, in case that sounds confusing.) Such a cute little town! The history of this area makes it feel more German than Italian. That was definitely true! It felt like stepping into Germany with little hints of Italy thrown in for good measure.

We didn’t stop at the museum, but Bolzano boasts a very unique attraction. The South Tirol Museum of Archaeology showcases the actual body of Ötzi the Iceman. They found his body perfectly preserved in a glacier, along with clothing and gear. A little creepy, but quite remarkable!

After a week of pasta, croissants, and pizza, we were thrilled about Bolzano’s Obstplatz open air market. It was close enough to lunchtime that we browsed the stands and put together a perfect little market lunch. Bread, cheese, bratwurst, fruit, and tomatoes. The grapes and apples were locally grown and were delicious!

We wandered the streets for a few minutes on our way out.

Back to the countryside! We found a castle that we thought was open for visitors. The views on our way up the hill were stunning, but the road got narrower and narrower…

We eventually had to back down this narrow little pathway to get back out.

Goodbye, castle! Not today, but thank you for the memorable adventure.

The little town of Brixen was well worth a stop! Small and quaint with lots of character.

Not far from Brixen is the Kloster Neusift. This Augustinian monastery made for a great stop! We didn’t know what to expect, but we’re glad we made the time for a detour. The monastery grounds are open (and set up for) visitors. You can’t go in very many of the buildings, understandably, but the serene grounds create enough of an attraction.

We ran into a monk back here, who guided us to a walk back along the vineyards!

Their baroque-style basilica was pretty hard core. Lots of pink and fluff! This has to be one of the most decorative cathedral interiors we’ve seen so far.

We took that stroll along the vineyards. The monastery is mostly self-sufficient. They make their own wine from the vineyards, as well as have their own agriculture, herb gardens, and apple orchards. An on-site cafe is open to visitors and serves apple strudel and other delicacies.

My first official bump picture!

The cafe where we had the best apple strudel of the trip (and we tried several!).

So good.

The day was coming to a close, and we took the winding path up to Alpe di Siusi. This is a pasture in the heart of the Dolomites with spectacular views. And lots of alpine cows! The drive up there was what Joel was looking for. I admit it was nice, albeit a little nerve-wracking here and there.

Sooo beautiful, though!

We couldn’t get enough of these alpine meadows! With just a couple hours before dark, we took one of the simpler hiking trails around the plateau. It was chilly up there! Since it was so late in the day, we almost had it all to ourselves.

That tiny little baby bump! *heart eyes*

These alpine cows all wore picture-perfect bells. You could hear them coming over the hills!


We headed back just as the sun was setting. Pictures don’t do it justice!

We rolled into our mountainous AirBnB later that night and were reminded of an Italian tradition. Most small town restaurants are closed on Monday nights! As this was a Monday night, we ended up eating a 9:00pm dinner at a local burger place we found in town. Thank you for breaking tradition and serving on a Monday, Stars Gourmet Burgers!

The following morning we said goodbye to Italy and crossed the border into Austria. Our trip through the Alps and the tiny country of Lichtenstein is coming next to the blog!



{Looking for another adventure? Check out our adventure on an Alaskan cruise (you do not want to miss Glacier National Park), Nova Scotia (that incredible piece of Canada was even better than we dreamed) and Copenhagen, Denmark (looove that place, especially Nyhavn!)

Top Bolzano Region Recommendations

Bolzano’s open air market (Obstplatz)

A stroll around Brixen

Augustinian monastery Kloster Neusift (Abbazia di Novacella)

Don’t miss the basilica and the apple strudel at the monastery!

Alpe di Siusi (somewhat challenging to get to, but totally worth it)

Rick Steve’s Italy Guidebook (the best guidebook we’ve used, and we’ve used a lot)

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