By Meredith Pollock, MA 2015-16
We will begin our series on the geography of Italy’s twenty regions with Trentino-Alto Adige, the northernmost region of the country. It is composed of two provinces: Bolzano in the south and Trento in the north. Trentino-Alto Adige has a unique history and culture, as it was part of Austria-Hungary until just 97 years ago, as well as an incredibly beautiful landscape.
After World War I, Trentino-Alto Adige (called Trentino-South Tyrol in English and Trentino-Südtirol in German) was annexed by the Italian Republic, but the region retains much of its Austrian influence. The most common language in Trento is German, and much of the region’s culture is derived from its Austrian past. The population is just over one million people, and the region is 5258 square miles.
Most of the region is mountainous with an elevation of more than 3000 feet. The tallest mountain in Trentino-Alto Adige is Ortler at 12,812 feet. The Alps cover the northern and western parts of the region and the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are in the east. The Adige River flows through Bolzano and Trento, the largest cities in the region, before ending in the Adriatic Sea. The Adige, at 250 miles long, is the second-longest river in Italy, and most of the region’s population is concentrated in the river valley. The valley is very fertile and corn, barley, oats, grapes, and fruit trees are all cultivated there. The region also produces wine, dairy products, and timber. Tourism is very important to Trentino-Alto Adige. Some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Europe is in the region, and in the summer it is popular to go hiking and climbing in the mountains.
Trento is only a three hour train ride from Florence, making the region perfect for a quick weekend getaway. Spending time surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Trentino-Alto Adige is an excellent way to get away from the chaos of Florentine city life!