Trentino-South Tyrol and Dolomites
Northwest of Venice, this region has many things in common with Austria (it used to be part of Austria until after World War I), including gorgeous mountain ranges (including the Dolomites) and a large German-speaking population.
The Dolomites are a beautiful mountain range, the most southern part of the Alps, and offers a number of fun outdoor activities, from winter sports to summer hiking/climbing. See Hiking in the Dolomites page for more. The Dolomites have sheer rock faces that end in alpine meadows, including the large Alpe di Siusi meadow.
This province, centered on the town of Trento, is the southern part of the region and is mostly Italian-speaking.
Largest town in Trento, sometimes called "Trent" in English (you may have heard of the Council of Trent during the Renaissance).
Buonconsiglio Castle - old castle, closed Mon
Other Places to Go/Eat in Trentino
Lavis - N of Trento
Vecchia Sorni - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Civezzano - just NE of Trento
Maso Cantanghel/Trattoria da Lucia - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Baselga di Piné - just NE of Trento
Due Camini - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
La Stropaia - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Bedollo - further NE of Trento from Baselga
Stramaiolo - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Isera (S of Trento)
Casa del Vino - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Locada delle Tre Chiavi - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
ate there in 2014, pretty good food, lots of gluten-free options
Levico Terme ( just E of Trento, beautiful town overlooking Lake Levico and Caldonazzo)
Boivin - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Montagna Granda - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Folgaria (S of Trento)
Alla Segheria - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
northern end of Trentino, SW of Bolzano/Bozen:
Cloz - Cloz Restaurant, near Ultimo valley, typical dishes of the region (canederli, gulasch, homemade cheese) and homemade salumi, Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Coredo: Alla Pineta - Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Arco - just north of Lago di Garda
Val di Fassa
Vigo di Fasa: Fuciade Ristorante - Località Fuchiade, open every day, 046-257-4281, 45 minutes from San Pellegrino pass, Trentino/Ladina cooking
Northern province of South Tyrol (Südtirol in German or Alto Adige in Italian), most people grow up speaking German and then learn Italian in school. This region feels more like Austria than Italy; every town has both an Italian and German name...and sometimes also a name in Ladin language, which is similar to Swiss Romansch.
Tirol Castle - in the NW, near Texelgruppe park
Rick Steves recommends this as a home base in the South Tyrol/Dolomite region, since it's one of the few villages in the area that preserves its charm. Nearby is the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm high alpline meadow; see Hiking in Dolomites for more information.
Places to eat
Fiè allo Sciliar / Voels am Schlern with Alter Fausthof, Località Novale di Presule / Prösler Ried 6 (not too far from Castelrotto/Kastelruth), open every day for dinner only
Capital of the region (check out a 5000-year old "ice man" preserved at the South Tirol Museum of Archaeology, ride a cable car to the Oberbozen resort village)
Officina del Gelo Avalon - named by Dissapore as one of the top 100 gelaterie in all Italy in 2017
Val Pusteria / Pustertal
The "Puster Valley" runs east of Bressanone/Brixen (the town itself is technically in the Valle Isarco/Eisacktal, which runs N/S and has some good hiking). The eastern edge of the Dolomites are in the Pustertal, for example the Tre Cime hike (see Hiking in the Dolomites page)
Brixen is the largest town in the Puster Valley and has a cute historic center with nice shops (although it's ringed by more modern streets/suburbs).
Restaurants that are supposed to be good:
...just N of town is Abbazia di Novacella / Kloster Neustift, an Augustinian abbey which also makes wine (their pub is open M-Sat 10-7), guided garden tours M/W/F at 11:30 in Italian
beautiful, peaceful place!
good for flower/herb lovers/gardeners
(E of Bressanone/Brixen, old town has beautiful castle)
Ferienhaus Graber (just W of Brunico/Bruneck in San Lorenzo di Sebato) - went for dinner in 2014, was very good
Oberraut, Località Arneto 1, 047-455-9977, closed Thurs, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 for "breathtaking view of the valley", family-run 40-year "temple to Pustere cuisine", high-quality ingredients, including many that are raised themselves, traditional dishes with a creative twist (graukäse, stuffed zucchini, goat dumplings, lamb/herb risotto, bauergeröstel, strauben), also rents rooms
San Lorenzo di Sabato / St. Lorenzen (near Brunico/Bruneck):
***Saalerwirt Hotel & Restaurant, everything made with ingredients from their property, closed Tues (except in high season), we liked this so much in 2014 that we went twice!
...on the way to Brunico/Bruneck, in Pfalen: Ristorante Schöneck (Schoeneck), 1 Michelin star
Rasun Anterselva/Rasen Antholz (further E, 48 min) --> Eggerhöfe, closed Mon (except July/Aug) and Nov-April, rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014, says it's in "one of the prettiest little valleys in the Pusteria region", has nice lake, "enchanting villages and dreamy mountains". This family-run place has nice traditional dishes and rooms for rent.
Valle Aurina-Ahrntal (way up in NE corner, 1:10) --> Mösenhof rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 for "most authentic and simple Pustere hospitality", traditional, seasonal dishes (schlutzer, knödel, graukäsesuppe [grey cheese/onion soup], gulasch, gibochns, kaiserschmar), closed Wed, also rents rooms. Hikes nearby: http://www.mapmyhike.com/it/valle-aurina-ahrntal-trentino-alto-adige/
Picturesque valley between Bolzano/Bozen and Bressanone/Brixen, home to the northern edge of Puez-Geisler/Odle National Park (see Hiking in the Dolomites for more)
Santa Maddalena is a particularly cute-looking town --> popular in photos of "most beautiful places in Italy"
A beautiful valley known for skiing, hiking, and woodcarving. Many towns at least traditionally speak Ladin (a Romance language similar to Swiss Romansch, also spoken in Val Badia, Val di Fassa, plus a variety in Cortina d'Ampezzo in Veneto).
Ortisei (Urtijëi / Sankt Ulrich)
One of the larger towns in Val Gardena—a perfect home base for hiking in the Dolomites because there are chairlifts/gondolas leading to either the Geisler/Odle mountain range and Seceda plateau to the north, or the Alpe di Siusi area to the south. Mar Dolomit is a big swimming pool in town that is really fun for kids. You can get here without a car, mostly via bus 350 to/from Ponte Gardena (which has a train station), bus schedules here. St.-Jakobs-Kirche/Chiesa di San Giacomo is a cute little church outside of town that features in a bunch of photos.
***Ristorante Tubladel - our favorite restaurant in town, the food is high quality (somewhat fancy) but the ambiance is like a cozy ski lodge, so it's pretty kid-friendly too (they have a children's menu); popular on Google/TripAdvisor, rec'd Michelin...pretty much everything we tried was good, but the stinco di maiale was a highlight
Cërcia Enoteca - wine bar/bistro with good TripAdvisor/Google reviews; most of their food looks like cheese/salumi platters so not the place for a hearty meal (or vegans)
Hotel Genziana Restaurant - pretty good, we had a nice meal here
Restaurant Concordia - somewhat nicer/fancier place, just uphill from the main town, good TripAdvisor reviews
just outside town:
Caffè Val D'Anna - nice little spot to eat in the Val D'Anna (a valley near the top of the escalator/bottom of the Seceda Funivie); the food was pretty good, but the main draw is a lot of toys for kids to play with (so a nice place for families to relax), good Google/TripAdvisor reviews
Costamula Restaurant - also in the Val D'Anna (further along than Caffe Val D'Anna), good TripAdvisor/Google reviews, looks like a nice/cozy place
Selva di Val Gardena (Sëlva / Wolkenstein)
The second-largest town in Val Gardena
Elsewhere in South Tyrol
Vipiteno/Sterzing (NW of Bressanone/Brixen, not far from the Brenner (or Brennero) pass into Austria)
Known for the eponymous yogurt company (some of the best mass-produced yogurt in Italy!)
Schaurhof Restaurant - rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014, speck, roasted lamb, closed Wed, also rents rooms
Walcher bakery - rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Frick butcher - rec'd in Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
--> Check out the Südtiroler Gasthaus list (Saalerwirt, above is part of this)