Merano, of art nouveau and contemporary design
In the footsteps of Sissi
But let the beloved empress guide you along Merano's most famous themed path, which bears her name. The three-kilometre-long Sissi Trail connects the city centre with the prestigious Trauttmansdorff Castle, via highlights and vantage points.
It starts from the Kurhaus, the Art Nouveau masterpiece palace and symbol of the city, and leads through the shady stretch of the Parco Elisabetta and the Roman bridge over the Passirio, the oldest bridge in the city, to the Hotel Bavaria, another Art Nouveau gem, and to Rottenstein Castle, where Sissi was a guest of her brother-in-law, Archduke Karl Ludwig. And then on to Pienzenau Castle, a jewel tucked away in a park of centuries-old cedars and pines, and finally to Trauttmansdorff Castle, the empress's official residence during her health treatments in Merano, where she occupied the entire top floor.
With its extraordinary variety of flowers and plants, the garden of Trauttmansdorff Castle symbolises the green soul of Merano, which has earned the name “garden city” because of its large parks and beautiful flowering promenades, the result of a favourable interaction between Alpine and Mediterranean climates. Botanical species from all over the world, from 80 different ecosystems, can be found here.
Merano 2000, the sportsman's paradise on the roof of the city
From Merano it is just a cable car ride to Merano 2000, in Avelengo, the sunny terrace of the city, a panoramic plateau with a large ski and hiking area. In the summer it serves as a base for hiking and mountain biking excursions, and in the winter it is criss-crossed by 40 kilometres of alpine ski slopes, most of which are covered in artificial snow, a snow park, two toboggan runs, one of which is one kilometre long, and two tracks for cross-country skiers. For experienced skiers, we also recommend the Val Senales glacier skiing area, with slopes that start at over 3,000 metres and are mostly black runs.
Ötzi Glacier Tour
And it is precisely from Maso Corto, the last village in the Schnals Valley, that the guided Ötzi Glacier Tour starts. It leads to the site of the discovery of the Similaun mummy, the so-called “Iceman”, who has lain on the Schnals Valley glacier for more than 5,000 years.
It is a tour either by foot or on skis up to the Giogo di Tisa, at 3210 metres, the terminus of a demanding but exciting crossing, involving a roped party and some rock passages secured by wire ropes, which is recommended for both mountain lovers and history and archaeology enthusiasts. Caution: you must be in good physical shape, have good stamina, experience and the proper equipment. As always, before a hike, enquire locally about the conditions of the route.