company logo

Home Wine Regions North East Trentino-Alto Adige
Trentino-Alto Adige

Regional capital: Trento.
Provinces: Bolzano (Bozen), Trento

Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol (Italian: Trentino-Alto Adige, pronounced [trenˈti(ː)noˈaltoˈa(ː)didʒe]; German: Trentino-Südtirol; Ladin: Trentin-Adesc Aut or Trentin-Südtirol; Austro-Bavarian: Trentino-Sidtiroul), is an autonomous region in Northern Italy. It consists of two provinces: Trento and Bolzano-Bozen. The region was part of Austria-Hungary (and its predecessor, the Austrian Empire) from 1389 until its annexation by Italy in 1919. Together with the Austrian state of Tyrol it is represented by the Euroregion Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino.

In English, the region is also known as Trentino-South Tyrol or by its Italian name Trentino-Alto Adige.

Climate and Geography

The region is bordered by Tyrol (Austria) to the north, by Graubünden (Switzerland) to the north-west and by the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto to the west and south, respectively. It covers 13,607 km² (5,253 sq mi). It is extremely mountainous, covering a large part of the Dolomites and the southern Alps.

The Autonomous Province of Bolzano has an area of 7,400 km2, all of it mountainous land and covered by vast forests. In Italy, the province borders on Lombardy in the west, Trento in the south and Veneto in the east. The climate is of the continental type, owing to the influence of the many mountain ranges which stand at well over 3,000 metres above sea-level and the wide valleys through which flow the main river, the Adige, from north to south and its numerous tributaries. In the city of Bolzano, capital of the province, the average air temperature stands at 12.2 °C (54 °F) and the average rainfall at 717.7 mm. The lowest pass across the Alps, the Brenner Pass, is located at the far north of the region on the border with Austria.

The Autonomous Province of Trento has an area of 6,207 km2, most of it mountainous land (20% is over 2,000 m (6,561.68 ft) and 70% over 1,000 m) and covered by vast forests (50% of the territory). The climate is various through the province, from an alpine climate to subcontinental one, with warm and variable summers and cold and quite snowy winters. The region has always been a favourite destination for tourists, both in winter for skiing in the high mountains and in summer to visit the wide valleys and many lakes (the largest being Lake Garda) can be found.

 Trentino-Alto Adige is walled in by the Rhaetian Alps and the Dolomites, so only about 15 percent of the land is cultivable. Much of that produces fruit and wine grapes. The difficulty of training vines over wooden pergolas on hillside terraces compels growers to emphasise quality. More than 60% of production is DOC and some 35% of the wine is exported (both Italy's highest rates). Yet, though experts agree that the alpine climate favours grapes for perfumed white wines, the focus remains on reds, which account for more than two-thirds of the region's production.



The region of current Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol was conquered by the Romans in 15 BC. After the end of the Western Roman Empire, it was divided between the invading German tribes in the Lombard Duchy of Tridentum (today's Province of Trento), the Alamannic Vinschgau and the Bavarians taking the remaining part. After the creation of the Kingdom of Italy under Charlemagne, the Marquisate of Verona included the areas south of Bolzano, while the Duchy of Bavaria received the remaining part.[11]

From the 11th century onwards, part of the region was governed by the prince-bishops of Trento and Brixen, to whom the Holy Roman Emperors had given extensive temporal powers over their bishoprics. The rest was part of the County of Tyrol and County of Görz, which controlled the Pustertal: in 1363 its last titular, Margarete, Countess of Tyrol ceded it to the House of Habsburg. The regions north of Salorno were largely Germanized in the early Middle Ages, and important German poets like Oswald von Wolkenstein were born and lived in the southern part of Tyrol.

The two Bishoprics were secularized by the Treaty of Luneville of 1803 and given to the Habsburgs. Two years later, following the Austrian defeat at Austerlitz, the region was given to Napoleon's ally Bavaria (Treaty of Pressburg, 1805). The new rulers provoked a peasant rebellion, led by Andreas Hofer a landlord from St. Leonhard in Passeier, in 1809 which was crushed the same year; the Treaty of Paris of February 1810 split the area between Austria and the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. After Napoleon's defeat, in 1815, the region returned to Austria. During French control of the region, it was called officially Haut Adige (literally "High Adige", Italian: "Alto Adige"; German: "Hoch Etsch") in order to avoid any reference to the historical County of Tyrol.

During the First World War, major battles were fought high in the Alps and Dolomites between Austro-Hungarian and Italian Alpini, for whom control of the region was a key strategic objective. The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian war effort enabled Italian troops to occupy the region in 1918 and its annexation was confirmed in the post-war treaties, which awarded the region to Italy under the terms of the Treaty of Saint-Germain.

A view of Bolzano-Bozen with the Cathedral on the rightUnder the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, the Fascist dictator of Italy (ruled 1922-1943), Alto Adige/Südtirol was subjected to an increased programme of Italianization: all references to old Tyrol were banned and the region was referred to as Venezia Tridentina between 1919 and 1947, in an attempt to justify the Italian claims to the area by historically linking the region to one of the Roman Regions of Italy (Regio X Venetia et Histria). Hitler and Mussolini agreed in 1938 that the German-speaking population would be transferred to German-ruled territory or dispersed around Italy, but the outbreak of the Second World War prevented them from fully carrying out the relocation. Nevertheless thousands of people were relocated to the Third Reich and only with great difficulties managed to return to their ancestral land after the end of the war.

In 1943, when the Italian government signed an armistice with the Allies, the region was occupied by Germany, which reorganised it as the Operation Zone of the Alpine Foothills and put it under the administration of Gauleiter Franz Hofer. The region was de facto annexed to the German Reich (with the addition of the province of Belluno) until the end of the war. This status ended along with the Nazi regime and Italian rule was restored in 1945.

Italy and Austria negotiated an agreement in 1946, put into effect in 1947 when a new Italian constitution was promulgated, that the region would be granted considerable autonomy. German and Italian were both made official languages, and German-language education was permitted once more. The region was called Trentino-Alto Adige/Tiroler Etschland between 1947 and 1972.

However, the implementation of the agreement was not seen as satisfactory by either the German-speaking population or the Austrian government. The issue became the cause of significant friction between the two countries and was taken up by the United Nations in 1960. A fresh round of negotiations took place in 1961 but proved unsuccessful, partly because of a campaign of terrorism by German-speaking separatists.

The issue was resolved in 1971, when a new Austro-Italian treaty was signed and ratified. It stipulated that disputes in the province of Bolzano-Bozen would be submitted for settlement to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, that the province would receive greater autonomy within Italy, and that Austria would not interfere in Bolzano-Bozen's internal affairs. The new agreement proved broadly satisfactory to the parties involved and the separatist tensions soon eased. Matters were helped further by Austria's accession to the European Union in 1995, which has helped to improve cross-border cooperation.




Italy's northernmost region with alpine borders on Austria and Switzerland is split into two distinct provinces. Trentino, around the city of Trento to the south, is historically Italian in language and culture. Aldo Adige, around the city of Bolzano or Bozen tothe north, is better known as Südtirol to the prominent German-speaking population. The South Tyrol, historically part of Austria, is officially bilingual.


DOC Areas

Grapes and wines

Alto Adige or Südtirol

The dominant variety is Schiava or Vernatsch, source of lightweight reds that flow north prodigiously to German-speaking countries. The most highly regarded of these is St. Magdalener or Santa Maddalena, grown on the picturesque slopes overlooking Bolzano. The best known is Caldaro or Kalterersee, produced from vines around the pretty lake of that name at the rate of more than 20 million litres a year, to rate high among Italy's DOCs in volume. But the ranks of roseate ruby wines from Schiava extend through the South Tyrol along the Adige river into Trentino and the Veneto under the Valdadige appellation.

Other reds can show greater class. Also Adige's native Lagrein and Trentino's Teroldego stand with northern Italy's most distinguished vines, making wines of singular personality. Marzemino makes a fresh, lively red for casual sipping. Considerable space is devoted to Cabernet and Merlot, which occasionally reach impressive heights both alone and in blends. The region also produces some of Italy's finest rose', perhaps the most impressive being Lagrein Kretzer. The sweet Moscato Rosa with its gracefully flowerly aroma is a rare and prized dessert wine.

The growing demand for white wine has influenced growers to plant more of the international premium varieties. The heights are favourable for aromatic whites: Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Müller Thurgau and white Moscato. But the quality of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Grigio, Sauvignon and Riesling Renano from certain cellars can also stand with Italy's finest. Trentino's native Nosiola makes fine dry white and is also the base of Vino Santo, a rich dessert wine from the Valle dei Laghi.

Production of the numerous varietal wines is centred in two large DOC zones: Trentino in the south and Alto Adige or Südtiroler in the north. Valdadige applies to red and white wines of popular commercial standards produced between Merano and Verona.

Several small DOC zones are noted for class. Valle d'Isarco and Terlano produce some exquisite whites in Alto Adige, and Santa Maddalena has a long-standing reputation for its refined light red. Teroldego, grown on the Rotaliano plain north of Trento, is an unusually attractive red when young, with capacity to a- ge splendidly from good vintages.

Although the region's white wines are often considered light by international standards, some have an unexpected propensity to age. Pinot Bianco, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Müller Thurgau have been known to remain fresh and vital for a decade or two. But the emphasis is on popularly priced Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco which can offer outstanding values.

Ultimately, producers in both provinces have been making whies of greater weight and complexity - in particular from Chardonnay, Sauvignon and the Pinots and also from Sylvaner, Riesling, Müller Thurgau and Gewürztraminer, whose name derives from the South Tyrolean village of Tramin. A few are also working with new techniques on red wines, notably in combinations of Cabernet and Merlot, but also with Pinot Nero and the underrated Lagrein. They are gradually enhancing the status of a region whose sterling record with DOC doesn't fully express its extraordinary quality potential.

Trentino, which boasts Italy's largest production of Chardonnay, is a leader with sparkling wines by the classical method, spumante that may qualify under the trademark of Trento Classico. Alto Adige has also stepped up sparkling wine production. Despite the traditional flow north, Trentino - Alto Adige's wines - whites especially - have been making steady progress in Italy and, just recently, on more distant markets, such as the United States and United Kingdom.





© 2011. All Rights Reserved. Developed by ICM Solution (UK) Limited.