Postcard from Merano: Part I

Last year my beloved elected to stay in Bolzano on our way to our pre-Christmas vacation in Seefeld. This year he decided we would stay in Merano. I was delighted as there was a hotel that I particularly wanted to visit. Thanks to everyman and his dog heading from Italy to the Alps for a long weekend of skiing, our three-hour journey took twice as long. However, once we’d relaxed in our truly delightful suite, our cares just melted away. 

Merano is probably best known as a spa resort, the second largest city of the province (after Bolzano). It’s located inside a basin, surrounded by mountains at the entrance to the Val Passiria, the Val Venosta and the Val d’Ultimo valleys. In the past, this idyllic town has been a popular place of residence for many famous scientists and doctors, who appreciated the mild, Mediterranean climate and the healthy air.

How it all Began

Old map of Meran (Merano) in 1911. Buy vintage map replica poster print or download picture

Once the home of the ancient Retic tribes, then an important transit centre, later a fortified Medieval town, Merano was chosen as capital of the then Tyrol region from 13th century onwards. It was also the administrative centre of the Burgraviate area stretching from Tel at the opening of the Venosta valley to Gargazzone in the Adige valley. The town retained its title as capital even when the new Counts of Tyrol moved their administration offices and the civic mint to Innsbruck in 15th century but, when no longer politically nor economically important, Merano later became simply a popular residential centre for the Tyrolean nobility who chose to build their sumptuous residences here in 16th century.

During 17th and 18th centuries many refugees from the Grigioni area (Graubünden in Switzerland) arrived in Merano to escape from religious persecution in their homeland. The 19th century marked the rebirth of the town when some of the local doctors, together with an attentive town administration, proposed Merano as a health spa and it soon became one of the most popular resorts in Central Europe. 324 metres (1,000 ft) above sea level, protected by the mountains from the cold north, the town has a delightfully mild climate and, soon, Hapsburg, Prussian, English, French and Russian nobility and aristocracy graced the resort with their presence.

Luxurious hotels and elegant public buildings were to be seen everywhere and it seemed that nothing could go wrong until WWI broke out in 1914 and everything came to a temporary halt. It was necessary to re-promote the town between the two world wars but the discovery of the health-giving waters at Monte San Vigilio helped until, once again, progress was interrupted by the start of WWII.

In recent years, Merano has slowly regained its name as a health spa and tourist centre. Its elegant buildings and beautiful gardens and parks help make the town truly unique in the Alpine region.

We much enjoyed a meander around town and a visit to its vibrant Christmas market which was sizeable and devoted many of its stalls to hospitality.

We noted that Merano boasts some of the most beautiful examples of Liberty-style buildings in the whole SudTirol Area, such as:-

  • The Civic Theatre, dedicated to the famous composer Puccini, was designed in 1900 by Martin Düfler.
  • The Post Office Bridge with its wonderfully ornate Liberty-style golden railings was built in 1906 and recently restored in 1993.
  • The Kurhaus, a magnificent building, designed by Vienna architect Friedrich Ohmann in 1914, is, without doubt, the loveliest example of Liberty-style architecture in the entire Alpine region. The great hall holds over 1,000 people and is equipped to host international congresses, conferences, exhibitions and concerts.. The adjacent elegant Pavillon des Fleurs, built in 1874, has seating for 300.

After WWI, Merano became part of Italy with the rest of the Alto Adige, but unlike Bolzano the plans of the fascist regime to assimilate the German speaking citizens by settling a majority of citizens from other parts of the Italian kingdom failed because of skilful negotiations of the city administration led by Baron Marcart. After 1945, it became and remains one of the main tourist sites in the region.

Our stay here definitely didn’t disappoint!

10 Comments on “Postcard from Merano: Part I

  1. 💜 YOU!!! Should have Taken Control Control Freak; remember that next time your “beloved” attempts organisation, he should stick to dentistry and leave the rest to YOU!!!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks and sounds fabulous. 🙂 I love towns about that size. Reasonably quiet, but still enough to do. Tiny towns and huge cities aren’t for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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