Northern Italy’s South Tyrol region is known for its skiing and winter sports but has also become increasingly popular in the warmer months as well. Over 450 km of hiking trails, lakes, fresh air, great hospitality and so much more are putting it at the top of many travelers’ “must-see” list. Today, we’ll explore the town of Castelrotto (Kastelruth) in the Bolzano province.
Castelrotto is located just 45 minutes from Bolzano and is the largest town in the area known as the Alpe di Siusi in the Dolomites. The town is located at the foot of the largest Alpine pasture in all of Europe known as the Seiser Alm. Since the area is best known for its natural beauty, let’s start there!
Castelrotto lies within the Sciliar-Catinaccio/Schlern-Rosengarten Nature Park and, as already mentioned, there are over 450 km of hiking trails in this immediate area alone. One need not be an expert hiker because there are plenty of trails for all ages and abilities. The trails are well-marked and equipped with Alpine huts where you’ll be able to rest and taste the best cuisine South Tyrol has to offer.
A good starting point might be to take the Marinzen chairlift from the center of town which takes you to a lovely area in just a few minutes. You can choose to stay there with the kids and enjoy the petting zoo, fishing pond, sunbathing, and the restaurant or continue on to various trails.
This area is also a paradise for mountain biking enthusiasts, Parkour, swimming, golfing, and horseback riding!
There is so much to see and do in this small village. In 2018, Castelrotto made the exclusive list of one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” and when you visit, you will see why. This quaint medieval hamlet is made up of tiny shops and beautifully painted, colorful manor houses in the town center.
The church steeple is the third-tallest in all of South Tyrol and visitors can book a visit every Thursday at 5 pm. There are also various museums that really put the visitor in touch with the local culture and customs which are vastly different from the rest of Italy including a traditional costume museum, farmers’ museum, and a school museum to name a few.
From town, you can take the path up to Kofel Hill where you’ll find the remains of the castle, a beautiful park, and seven Calvary chapels constructed at the end of the 17th century.
Pflegerhof Farm is another interesting place to visit if you’re interested in Alpine culture. This farm has been growing native herbs and plant species for medicinal uses since 1982. They have a shop where you can purchase local products.
Trostburg Castle is also in the vicinity and includes a very extensive visit of the grounds and the interior.
South Tyrol Cuisine
Uniquely Tyrolean, the cuisine here is a perfect marriage of Mediterranean and Alpine influences. Dishes tend to be heartier than those of the rest of Italy and include bacon, sausage, and goulashes. Dumplings (canederli), risottos, and polenta are very common first courses while cured meats (speck) and Alpine cheeses also adorn the table. Common bread includes pretzels and heartier, dark rye. Artisan beer as well as wines like Lagrein (red) and Gewürztraminer (white) are the drink of choice. For dessert, you’ll, of course, want to try the strudel, the famous Sacher torte, and the delicious strauben funnel cakes.
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