Living and biking in Italy's South Tyrol (Südtirol / Alto Adige)
I'm a German who spent a number of years living in the United States and am now in Baden-Württemberg and love the weather of southern Germany. But I have the chance, if I'm interested, to spent some time in northern Italy to learn Italian in a place where German is still a primary (and constitutionally protected) language.
South Tyrol has weather that is a step better than the best in Germany, with about 25% more sun and 20% less rain than where I live, with winter lows below 0 but winter highs averaging 6 degrees — which is much more comfortable to bike in than 2 or 3 degrees! It means a longer biking season, too, with an average high in February of 10 degrees and average high in March of 15 (amazing!). In addition, Bolzano and Merano are both in valleys surrounded by the Alps, and it looks like there are some incredible hills in the area.
Does anyone have any experience biking in northern Italy? I'd love to hear about it, because it would be a major factor in my decision to move there.
Last edited by biciklanto; 05-06-14 at 08:22 AM.
Reason: Forgot to finish a sentence.
I've biked in the Dolomites, the area surrounding Cortina d'Ampezzo, the area around Lago di Caldonazzo (Kalterer See), around Corvara in Badia (Kurfar), as well as Passo dello Stelvio (Stilfserjoch) from Prato allo Stelvio (Prad am Stilfserjoch)—but only in the warm-weather months. The scenery is spectacular, but you gotta love climbing! You get German efficiency with Italian lack-of-uptightness, and a mix of the cuisines of both. Great wines too: Gewürztraminer for white and Lagrein for red.
Spec' Tarmac (road), Spec' Secteur Disc (commuter & tourer), Salsa Mamasita (MTB), CoMo Speedster (tandem), Surly Big Dummy (cargo), Airnimal (folder), a train pass, and NO car :)
I've ridden in and through the region several times, and would certainly recommend the cycling there. There are obviously lots of fantastic mountain roads, and some lakes not too far away. The roads tend to be decent quality (better than many other parts of Italy) and in many of the larger valleys there are separated bike paths that give a nice alternative to the main roads, which is something that doesn't exist in most of the rest of the country.
German appeared to be by far the dominant language in many parts of the region, and I had very little Italian.