If you have already visited Bolzano’s city center, then it’s time to see another side of Bolzano beyond the “classic tour” of the historic center. Follow these recommendations for an unconventional tour and experience a side of Bolzano most tourists never see.
Bolzano is actually divided by the Talvera River: on one side there is the historical and medieval town, the so-called German part; on the other side the more recent and Italian Bolzano, whose roots go back to the Fascist Era. It’s therefore not surprising that locals say, “Let’s go into town” when they go to the city center. Indeed, the city center of Bolzano is a totally different city compared to the rest of the urban fabric.
Leaving the city centre behind you and crossing the Talvera Bridge you will find yourself in front of the Victory Monument, designed by the architect Marcello Piacentini and inaugurated in 1928. Inside, a small but interesting museum has been recently opened. Entrance is free and in less than an hour, you can retrace the local, national and international events starting from the two dictatorships up to the present day. Moreover, you can learn more about the urban changes beginning in the 1920s and gain perspective on the complicated relationship between the two linguistic groups, German and Italian.
Bolzano’s Various Districts
Once you have visited the museum you can continue along Viale Venezia. Built in 1927 for the Italian middle class, the houses here are in typical Venetian style. Characteristic beautiful columns, balconies, terraces in a byzantine style. From Viale Venezia you can turn right onto Via Zara, continue on Via San Quirino straight up to Via Torino/Via Dalmazia. The group of houses in this area make up the so-called Rione Littorio, a district built in the 1930s for industrial workers coming from the Veneto region. An interesting contradiction of this quarter is certainly the beautiful Mariaheim. Founded around 1630 and surrounded by a large vineyard, this green patch is the only one left after the construction of the “new city”.
The Bartolomei Pastry Shop on Via Torino is one of the best in Bolzano and a perfect spot to take a break. From Via Torino, you can go straight and turn left onto Via Palermo. Once you reach the bridge you can turn right and then left on Via Bari. You’ll find yourself in the area which was known as Rione Dux or Semirurali under the Fascist regime. Houses here were built for laborers who could not afford the expensive rent in the Rione Littorio. They were poorly constructed with small rooms that were cold during Bolzano’s winters. The residents of this area were isolated from the rest of the city to the point that Rione Dux became known as “Shanghai”.
Today, only one house remains (via Bari 11) which now holds a small museum. It is only open on Saturdays from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm, but it is very interesting. Once you’ve completed your tour, you can reach Via Resia and have a look at the remaining walls of the concentration-transit camp of Bolzano. From here many trains departed for the horrible destinations of Mauthausen, Ravensbruck, and Dachau.
The tour could end here, but if you still have some energy and you are interested in rationalism you can take bus number 10A and reach the industrial area of Bolzano. The Aumix bus stop will drop you off right in front of the former Montecatini factory. This building, inaugurated in 1935, is now the headquarters of the Technopark NOI. Its beautiful facade made of red bricks, fountain, picturesque spaces and large glass walls framed with faux marble make this building spectacular.