Trentino-Alto Adige has a reputation as one of the best holiday locations in Italy. It offers the visitor popular ski resorts and immaculate medieval towns, glorious nature, warm hospitality, reliable accommodation and extremely affordable prices. In winter, the skiing is second to none. Spring and Autumn provides hikers with an established network of well-marked trails, with stops in remote mountain hamlets where German is more widely spoken than Italian and Sauerkraut is more common than pasta. All year round, the area offers breathtaking scenery with saw-toothed ridges, snow-capped peaks, lush alpine meadows and glittering waterfalls.
Despite outward appearances, this is a deeply divided region, an area which has long struggled to find its own identity. Napoleon conquered the region and placed it under the realm of the Austrian Habsburgs, who ruled it until it was returned to Italy in 1919. A large proportion of the population never accepted that political arrangement, and in 1939, Mussolini they were given the opportunity to either accept Italian citizenship and remain, or assume German citizenship and emigrate north. The overwhelming majority chose the second option, which left the area extremely underpopulated.
In 1948, Trentino-Alto Adige was made an autonomous region. Unfortunately, this has increased divisions in the area. Trentino, the southern part of the region centered around the beautiful city of Trento, has become far more Italian than the northern part, Alto Adige, which is also known as Südtyrol. In addition, there are a large number of residents who belong to another ethnic group and who speak an ancient language known as Ladin. This utterly incomprehensible language, which combines Celtic dialects with Latin, resulted from the arrival of the Roman legions in the first century BC. The town of Vigo di Fassa has a fascinating museum dedicated to the history and traditions of the Ladin people.