Merano/Meran is the second largest town in South Tyrol with a population of about 35,000 . A slight majority of the population is German-speaking, while the others are Italian-speaking. Merano, with its delightfully mild climate, lovely surroundings and rich, varied vegetation, is a famous health spa resort. It is protected from the winds and bad weather by high mountains to the north, east and west and lies in a valley open towards the sunny south. 324 mts. above sea-level, Merano attracts holiday-makers, mainly Germans, throughout the year, with local hotels having 4.739 rooms and known for their high standards of comfort, service and good food. There are 52 romantic, old castles in and around the town, some used as hotels or museums while others are still private residences.
Museums, Galleries, and Memorials
Touriseum – South Tyrol Museum of Tourism with Botanical Garden. It’s a very interesting highlight. The Museum hosted at Trauttmansdorff Castle reports the long history of tourist tradition in South Tyrol. The ticket includes the visit to the well-kept and quite wide Botanical Garden. The Museum is open only from the first half of March to the first half of September, considering that the Botanical Garden is closed during the cold season.
Official Website – www.touriseum.it
City Museum – It’s located in a former hotel, it shows interesting archaeological and historical founds.
Princely Castle Museum. Building from the 15th century located in the old town with an interesting exhibition for lovers of medieval history.
Jewish Museum – free entry. The small museum located at the only South Tyrol’s Synogogue reports the history and documentation about the Jewish community in South Tyrol.
Women’s Museum Evelyn Ortner – – free entry. Unique museum about women specialized in culture of women’s everyday life.
Meran Art – City Gallery – free entry. Exhibitions of contemporary art, literature and architecture and other interesting features.
Official Website – www.kunstmeranoarte.org
Monument of Empress Elisabeth – is a statue situated at the Summer Promenade’s entrance, which was modeled with white marble after Sissi’s assasination in Geneva in 1898. The Empress of Austria visited Merano four times – the last time being one year before her death. During the fascist dictatorship it was deplaced, cutting off the statue’s head. After WWII the statue was replaced and the head re-modeled. It shows an interesting parallel with the Monument of Walther von der Vogelweide in Bolzano.
WHITE Art Gallery – free entry. Contemporary Art Gallery.
Official Website – www.whiteartgallery.eu
- Main Parish Church Gothic building with Baroque features in the old town built in different periods between 1302 and the 18th century. Its bell tower is one of the highest in South Tyrol (83 metres) and it shows 7 clocks.
- Holy Spirit’s Church Gothic building built between the 14th and 15th century beyond the Passer river. A building built by Fascist Italy in rationalist style hides the church, because the Gothic style was considered to be a symbol of the German-speaking countries.
- Holy Mary’s Church Located in the district of Untermais it’s an interesting Romantic building built in the 12th century.
Thermal Spa center
The new thermal spa centre, on the opposite bank of the river Passirio, was opened during the 1970’s and is furnished with the most modern equipment for therapeutic treatment. It also houses an indoor swimming-pool filled with thermal water and the natural radio-activity in this water has a most beneficial pathological effect. The spa centre is open all year round and specialises in a vast selection of curative treatments.
The horse race-course is one of the most beautiful in the world and is especially famous for the Grand Premium steeple-chase in September, which is run in connection with a rich national lottery.
There are also a large number of public open-air swimming-pools, an ice rink, 15 tennis courts of which 4 are covered for use in winter, a horse-riding and jumping school and a mini-golf course.
The river Passirio, which flows through the centre of the town, is often chosen to host international and world-class slalom and down-hill canoe races. It was the scene of the 1971 World Championship, the 1980 European Cup and the 1983 World Championship competitions.
The Tappeiner Walk
The Tappeiner Walk, named after the doctor who planned it and laid it out and who, later in 1892, gave it to the town, is a walk meanders pleasantly along the sides of the gentle slopes of the glacial hill of Mount St. Benedetto as far as the Gilf, a ravine on the river Passirio.
Merano is also a good base for walking enthusiasts and mountain climbers.
There are excellent winter sports facilities too nearby, with good ski-runs at Merano 2,000, on the Hirzer mountain and in the Ultimo valley. Less than an hour away by car, the Senales valley with its permanent glacier and snow field, is the ideal place for summer skiing.
Tradition and folklore still play a significant role in the every-day life of the town and its people and visitors to Merano greatly enjoy the weekly folklore evenings of singing and dancing with all the participants dressed in local Tirolese costume. Since the beginning of this century, the golden-coated Hafling horses from the little village of Avelengo or Hafling have competed against one another is a special race for amateur local riders which opens the horse-racing season on Easter Monday and in another race, later in autumn, to celebrate the Grape Harvest. Their riders, usually farmers or farmers’sons, all wear local costume, too. The celebrations for the Grape Harvest are always held on the second Sunday in October and include a procession through the town with bands, orchestras, decorated floats and lorries, folk dancing groups and displays of various traditional costumes.
The nearest airport is located in Bolzano.
Getting to/from the airport
Many hotels offer a transfer from Bolzano airport, especially if you book through a travel agency (in this case you probably have the possibility to have a transfer from other major airports). In the airport you will find some rent-a-car agencies.
In order to get in Merano by train you have to arrive in Bolzano first and from here you can take the train to Merano (every 40 minutes). When you buy the ticket at the departure station you can have the ticket from Bolzano to Merano included, saying that your destination is Merano. The Merano Central Rail Station is close to the town centre.
Some German, Austrian and Swiss travel agencies offer direct bus connection to Merano. Normally international bus lines stop in Bolzano and from here you can take the bus Bolzano-Merano at the Bolzano Bus Station or other stops inside Bolzano (like Dominikanerplatz). Buses are run by SASA (Website), which uses the same orange buses you can find inside cities, and SAD’s (Website), with grey-coloured buses (they operate on the same line). There is a departure every hour. A fare from Bolzano to Merano costs EUR 4 (only 2.61 with value card).
You have to exit at Bolzano South on motorway A22 and taking the modern freeway. In Merano there are three exits: Sinich/Meran Süd, Meran Zentrum and Algund (freeway end). If you are coming from Landeck in Austria or Engadin, Switzerland, you can follow the signs along the road.
The best way in order to discover Merano is by foot, but it’s covered by an excellent public transport system, which is composed by buses and a chair lift to the village of Tirol.
In winter (from November to March) the whole city is forbidden for the EURO 0 cars in order to prevent from air pollution. In cases of high concentration of polluted substances the streets are forbidden also for EURO 1 cars.
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