Merano, set at the head of the Val Venosta Valley on the Austrian
border is a pretty, elegant and sedate medieval spa town that possesses
a charm unique unto it itself. It was famous for its water health
cures during the Hapsburg Austrian-Hungarian Empire when the rich
and beautiful would converge seeking cures and looking for a social
scene, with entertainments such as musical concerts and balls.
Merano now delights not only in transforming health
cures at the thermal baths but also in a "grape cure"
which involves a copious diet of grapes for the duration of the
regime! The entire region is bilingual, speaking not only Italian
but German as well.
Kurhaus is on Corso Libertà and used to
be the pump rooms but has since been converted into a concert hall.
The concerts are very Venetian in style with small orchestras playing
waltzes and polkas. The Gothic cathedral is Duomo di San Nicolo
and has a pretty crenellated gable. The Castello Principesco is
the ancestral home of the Counts of Tyrol and displays many original
Wandering through the town you will enjoy the
arcaded promenade of Via Portici lined with painted houses. Merano's
flower-decked streets have terraces, cafés, sumptuous pastry
shops, boutiques and waterfalls. One of the best times to visit
is in the autumn when strolling down Passeggiata Lungo Passiro an
appealing "winter walk" links the north bank of the
Passirio River with the so-called Roman bridge and all the trees
are turning red and gold. The other optimum time is in the spring
when the "summer walk" meanders through a park planted
with pine trees and palms, and the valleys are full of wildflowers
and apple blossom.
From the town a cable car will take winter sports
enthusiasts up to Merano 2000, a ski resort best suited to beginners.