This autonomous Alpine region, incorporating much of the spectacular limestone Dolomiti mountain range, is best thought of as two distinct areas. Its provinces, Trentino and Alto Adige, are culturally, linguistically and historically separate. Alto Adige, or Sudtirol, in the north was part of the Tyrol area of Austria until ceded to Italy in 1918. The people, mostlyof Germanic descent, predictably favour the German language over Italian, although Ladin, an ancient Latin-based language is also spoken in some zones, mainly the Val Badia and the Val Gardena. Trentino, to the south of Alto Adige was a reluctant part of the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian empires for about a century until returned to Italy after WWI. The population here is strongly Italian, although German is widely spoken.
The marriage of Trentino to Alto Adige, Italian to Tyrolean, has at times created friction, and extreme right-wing political parties have always done well here. One of its primary aims is the preservation and development of German and Ladin ethnic groups, but more extreme elements want to secede from Italy. Bombings of railways, power stations and military installations that shook the region in the 1950s, 60s and 80s were attributed to radical secessionists. Only in 1992 was a long haggled-over deal covering the area's statutes and privileges formally agreed to by Italy and Austria, with the UN's blessing. Tourism throughout Trentino-Alto Adige is highly organised and travellers will have little difficulty finding good accommodation and extensive, information on their choice of activity, including walking, trekking and skiing.
TREKKING IN THE DOLOMITI
The Dolomiti, stretching across Trentino Alto Adige into the Veneto, provide the most spectacular opportunities for walkers in the Italian Alps - from half-day strolls to walks/treks that can include more demanding routes requiring mountaineering skills. Trails are generally well marked with numbers on red-and-white painted bands or inside different coloured triangles for the Alte Vie. Numerous rifugi offer over-night lodgings and refreshments. Tourist office usually have maps with roughly marked trails, but walkers planning anything more than the most basic itinerary should use detailed maps. Tourist office staff can advise on the trails degree of difficulty.
Surface: kmq 13613
National parks: Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio (1935).