Completely surrounded by snowy peaks, the city of Merano sits in a lush valley. The mountains that surround the valley can reach up to 10,000 feet, but the valley itself is only 1,000 feet above sea level. The valley is breathtaking in all seasons, and the city that sits within has just as much intrigue as its location.
To enter the ancient city, you must walk between three gates that date back to the 13th century. These gates are all that remains of the original walls of the city, but serve as a testament to the age and history of the town. Inside one gate, Porta Venosta, you’ll find the Piazza del Grano. This piazza offers you an up-close peek at the richness of the valley. An outdoor market is held here that features the fruits and vegetables grown in the region.
History in Action
To walk through the city of Merano, you’ll feel transported in time. In some sections of the city, such as the Steinach found between the Duomo and Porta Passiria, you could just as easily be standing in the fourteenth century as the twenty-first. The houses are ancient and whitewashed. They are joined across narrow streets by arches and the only relief along the walls is the collection of bright flowers in window flowerboxes.
Among the many areas to see and visit in Merano, you should be sure to see the cathedral of the town. Erected before the 14th century, the style of the building is gothic, and the frescoes are perfect examples of the natural, primitive style found in many alpine churches. The church is just one of many ancient buildings in the city, and simply walking through the streets or poking into local eateries and shops can give you a good feel for the well-preserved nature of the town.
While the buildings, such as the cathedral and the fortified homes and castles, of the area are interesting, the true beauty lies in the outdoors. The valley enjoys ideal growing conditions and the sheer amount of greenery and color throughout the parks and wilderness are breathtaking. Stroll the Merano Promenades, paved sidewalks that lead from the center of town to the wilderness, to see the best of what the city can offer to residents and tourists alike.
Photo: by StephanieAlbert