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South Tyrol

South Tyrol: in Bressanone, between the past and modernity

As the oldest city in Tyrol, it has been the crossroads between north and south for centuries.

15 July 2022

3 minutes

Bressanone, the heart of Valle Isarco, has so much to show you: ready to discover it on a hike, on foot or by bike?

A visit to Bressanone is full of culture, nature and gastronomy that feels like a journey through time, between modernity and the vestiges of an important past on display in the old town.

1. The Cathedral: emblem of the episcopal city

The majestic cathedral stands tall over the historic centre of Bressanone, as the landmark of the town whose origins date back to 980 AD.

Having survived two fires, the bishop's church in Bressanone has been renovated several times over the centuries, first in Romanesque style with three naves and two bell towers, then in Baroque style. Traces of the latter can be found in the 33 different types of fine marble decorating the interior. There are also ceiling frescoes covering 200 square metres, the high altar one of the most prestigious examples of Baroque art in Tyrol – and the organ with over 3,000 pipes. These are only some of the artistic treasures calling you to visit the Cathedral and linger inside for a contemplative moment. 

2. The Bishop's Palace: testimony to the ecclesiastical principality

Adjacent to the cathedral, the Bishop's Palace is the historical residence of the prince-bishops when Bressanone was an ecclesiastical principality and the bishops also held temporal power.

Today home to the Diocesan Museum and the Diocesan Archives, the palace has one of the most atmospheric residential courtyards in South Tyrol and its 70 rooms are home to precious artistic testimonies, from medieval sculpture and painting to the Baroque, Classicism and Romantic periods. The many treasures include the tiled stoves in the Emperor's Wing, Viennese porcelain and the liturgical nativity scene on the ground floor with about 5,000 figurines.

3. Tradition and innovation: Gasthaus and trendy restaurants

Bressanone is striking in its ability to blend the ancient with the contemporary. Want proof? A Gasthaus, or South Tyrolean inn, is ideal for enjoying traditional local cuisine.

The centre is home to several of them and the peculiarity is that each one is flanked by trendy clubs. A contrast between old and new that does not clash; on the contrary, it fascinates. 

4. Alpine-Mediterranean cuisine: crossroads between north and south

Bressanone also offers an unforgettable journey of flavours, with cuisine that mixes local ingredients with more distant tastes. The base of each dish is a mix of Alpine herbs and spices, such as those that enrich the local catch, but also acidic and sweet Mediterranean flavours, which together create uniqueness, such as sauces and citrus pestos. All this is accompanied by wines from the Isarco Valley, with their fresh and refined aromas.

5. Törggelen: holiday of colours and flavours

Your trip to Bressanone ends with a typical autumn festival, an ancient custom that has since crossed the borders of South Tyrol and attracts many tourists. We’re talking about Törggelen, a festival celebrated in the past in the setting of the Torggl, a grape press.

After the grape harvest, farmers would invite their helpers to attend a banquet full of their farm’s products such as nuts, chestnuts, speck, rye bread and smoked sausages. All, of course, with a glass (or more) of new wine and of must.

The tradition has continued over the years, becoming an annual occurrence at harvest time. Many dishes can be enjoyed in cheerful company in the inns and taverns while savouring South Tyrolean wines.