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For the mathematician, see Bernard Bolzano. For other uses, see Bolzano (disambiguation). For the province, see South Tyrol.
Città di Bolzano
Stadt Bozen
Panorama of Bolzano
Panorama of Bolzano
Coat of arms of BolzanoBozen
Coat of arms
BolzanoBozen is located in Italy
Location of Bolzano
Bozen in Italy
Coordinates: 46°30′N 11°21′E / 46.500°N 11.350°E / 46.500; 11.350Coordinates: 46°30′N 11°21′E / 46.500°N 11.350°E / 46.500; 11.350
Country Italy
Region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
Province South Tyrol (BZ)
 • Mayor Luigi Spagnolli (PD)
 • Total 52.3 km2 (20.2 sq mi)
Elevation 262 m (860 ft)
Population (December 2013)
 • Total 105,713
 • Density 2,000/km2 (5,200/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Italian: bolzanini
German: Bozner
Ladin: bulsanins
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 39100
Dialing code 0471
Website Official website

Bolzano (Italian pronunciation: [bolˈtsaːno] or [bolˈdzaːno];[1] German: Bozen, historically also Botzen;[2] Ladin: Balsan or Bulsan; Latin: Bauzanum) is the capital city of the province of South Tyrol in northern Italy. With a population of 105,713 (2013), Bolzano is also by far the largest city in South Tyrol.

Bolzano is the seat of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, where lectures and seminars are held in English, German and Italian. The city is also home to the Italian Army's Alpini High Command (COMALP) and some of its combat and support units.[3] It is one of five mainly Italian-speaking municipalities in the Germanic province of South Tyrol.

In a 2010 quality-of-life survey by the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Bolzano was ranked first among 107 Italian cities on the survey's list.[4] In the 2011 edition of the survey, Bolzano was ranked number two and came after the top-ranked Bologna.[5] In the 2012 edition, Bolzano regained the top place as the city with the Best Quality of Life in Italy.[6]

Along with other Alpine towns in South Tyrol, Bolzano engages in the Alpine Town of the Year Association for the implementation of the Alpine Convention. The Convention aims to promote and achieve sustainable development in the Alpine Arc. Consequently, Bolzano was awarded Alpine Town of the Year 2009.


Bolzano in 1898

Prehistory and Roman Settlement

The modern-day Bolzano was in ancient times a marshy region inhabited by the Raetian Isarci people, traditionally believed to be descendants of Etruscan refugees fleeing Italy from the invading Gauls.[7] The Romans built a settlement after the area had been conquered in 15 BC by General Nero Claudius Drusus. The military settlement, Pons Drusi (Drusus Bridge), was named after this Roman General. During this time the area became part of the region Venetia et Histria (Regio X) of ancient Italy.

In 1948, excavations of the current Cathedral led to the discovery of an ancient Christian basilica from the 4th century. Also discovered was a Roman cemetery, including the tomb of "Secundus Regontius" with Latin inscriptions dating to the 3rd century, making him the oldest known inhabitant of Bolzano.[8]

Bavarian Settlement

During the gradual decline of the Roman's influence in the 7th century, Bavarian immigration took place and the first mention of a Bavarian ruler in Bolzano dated from 679.[9] At that time, the Bavarians named the nearby villages around Bolzano Bauzanum or Bauzana.[10] German populations have been present in the region of Tyrol since this time.

Bishopric of Trent

In 1027 the area of Bolzano together with the rest of the diocese was conferred, by the emperor Conrad II from the Salian dynasty, upon the bishops of Trent. In the late-12th century, the bishop founded a market town, along the Lauben thoroughfare. The town therefore became an important trading post on the Transalpine Augsburg-Venice route over the Brenner Pass, elevation 1,371 metres (4,498 ft) above sea level, within the Holy Roman Empire.[11]

County of Tyrol and Holy Roman Empire

In 1277 Bolzano was conquered by Meinhard II, the Count of Tyrol, leading to a struggle between the Counts of Tyrol and the bishops of Trent. In 1363, the County of Tyrol fell under the influence of Habsburg Austria and the Holy Roman Empire. In 1381, Duke Leopold granted the citizens of Bolzano the privilege of a town council. This gradually eliminated the influence and power previously held by the bishops of Trent over the next few decades. In 1462, the bishops eventually resigned all their rights of jurisdiction over the town.[12]

From the 14th and 15th centuries onwards, a large market fair was organised four times per year to greet tradesmen and merchants en-route the Brenner Pass. The Mercantile Magistrate was therefore founded in 1635 by the Austrian duchess Claudia de' Medici. During every market season, two Italian and two Germanic officers, who were appointed among the local tradesmen, worked in this magistrate office. The establishment of an official trade organisation strengthened Bolzano as a cultural crossroad in the Alps.[13]

Part of Italy

Bolzano in 1914, at the outbreak of World War I

After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Bolzano became part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy and was incorporated into the Dipartimento Alto Adige.[14] After the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) Bolzano returned to the County of Tyrol, within the Austrian Empire and subsequently the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1866. The County covered both modern-day South Tyrol and the Federal States of Tyrol and East Tyrol in Austria.

In 1915, the Triple Entente powers promised Italy territorial gains if she would enter the First World War on the side of the Entente instead of siding with the German Empire and Austria-Hungary. When Italy abandoned the Triple Alliance (1882), the Entente offered her territorial promises in Tyrol and Istria. This secret arrangement was confirmed in the Treaty of London (1915).

No fighting took place in the County of Tyrol during the First World War. Germany and Austria-Hungary, however, lost to the Entente and signed an armistice in 1918. The transfer of South Tyrol to Italy took place in 1919. At the time of Bolzano's annexation by the Kingdom of Italy, the town was settled primarily by a German-speaking population. As of 1910, 29,000 inhabitants were German-speaking and only 1,300 Italian-speaking.[15]

In the 1920s, along with the rest of South Tyrol, Bolzano was subjected to an intensive Italianisation programme under the orders from the Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. The aim of his programme was to outnumber the local German-speaking population by tripling Bolzano's population with Italian-speaking immigrants drawn from the rest of the country.[15] In 1927, Bolzano became the capital of the province of South Tyrol. In 1933, Adolf Hitler came to power in the Weimar Republic. There was worry among Mussolini and the Fascists that Hitler, in facilitating his extreme ideology of all ethnic Germans under one Reich, would reclaim South Tyrol from Italy. Consequently, Mussolini and Hitler secured an agreement, the Option Agreement, in 1939. Hitler would renounce his claims over South Tyrol as Germany's Lebensraum (living space). Nevertheless, those Germans who opted to stay in South Tyrol and refuse to relocate to the Third Reich would be regarded as traitors and subject to a full-scale Italianisation.[16]

Second World War

During the Second World War, Bolzano was the site of the Nazi's Bolzano Transit Camp, a concentration camp for persecuted Jews and political prisoners. After 1943, heavy fighting against Nazi Germany and the Axis Powers took place in the Dolomite Alps once the Allied Powers had liberated Italy.[17]

After the War, independence movements gradually gained popularity among the Germanic population in Bolzano and South Tyrol. In the 1960s, a series of terrorist attacks and assassinations were carried out by the South Tyrolean Liberation Committee – a German secessionist movement – against Italian police, officials and infrastructure facilities (one notable incident being the Night of Fire on 12 June 1961), forcing the United Nations to intervene in the negotiations with the Italian government in Rome. After 11 years of mediation and negotiation, a resolution was reached between Austria and Italy on granting considerable self-government to South Tyrol.

Euroregion Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino

In 1996, the European Union approved of further integration of the Austrian state of Tyrol with the Germanic province of South Tyrol and Trentino (Welschtirol) in Italy.


Linguistic distribution[edit]

According to the 2011 census, 73.80% of the city's inhabitants spoke Italian, 25.52% German and 0.68% Ladin as their first language.[18]

Language 2001[19] 2011[18]
Italian 73.00% 73.80%
German 26.29% 25.52%
Ladin 0.71% 0.68%
Largest groups of foreign residents
Nationality Population (2014)
 Albania 2,607
 Morocco 1,713
 Pakistan 1,107
 Romania 1,055
 Moldova 676


The city thrives on a mix of old and new high-quality intensive agriculture (including wine, fruit, and dairy products), tourism, traditional handicraft (wood, ceramics), and advanced services. Heavy industry (machinery, automotive, and steel) installed during the 1930s has now been mostly dismantled.[citation needed] The local economy is very dependent on the public sector and especially the provincial government.[citation needed]

Bolzano is the biggest city in South Tyrol, which is an autonomous province in Northern Italy with a special statute. This statute preserves the rights of the German-speaking minority in Italy. This unique system was admired by the Dalai Lama, who visited the city on several occasions to study a possible application in Chinese-occupied Tibet.[20] It has also been presented as role model for the successful and fair resolution of inter-ethnic conflict to other regions of the world.[21]


Being located at multiple climate borders, Bolzano features a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with hot summers and very cool winters. According to the Trewartha classification, this climate could not be really considered a subtropical climate because fewer than 8 months are at least 10 °C (50 °F), and thus would be considered a semi-continental climate with hot summers. Some of its suburbs are designated an oceanic climate (Cfb) based upon cooler summer temperatures, while mountains in the area may feature a continental climate (Dfb).

Climate data for Bolzano (1971–2000, extremes 1946–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 21.8
Average high °C (°F) 6.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.9
Average low °C (°F) −4.5
Record low °C (°F) −18.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 23.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 3.6 3.1 5.1 6.6 9.3 8.5 8.9 8.2 6.8 6.8 4.9 4.3 76.1
Average relative humidity (%) 72 69 62 66 69 66 66 68 71 75 74 73 69
Mean monthly sunshine hours 102.3 121.5 148.8 159.0 176.7 201.0 232.5 213.9 180.0 151.9 102.0 96.1 1,885.7
Source: Servizio Meteorologico (humidity and sun 1961–1990)[22][23][24]

Main sights[edit]

Bolzano Cathedral

Its medieval city centre, Gothic and Romanesque churches and bilingual signage give it the flavour of a city at the crossroads of Italian and Austrian cultures. This and its natural and cultural attractions make it a popular tourist destination.

Among the major monuments and sights are:

For more historical and geographical information see South Tyrol.

City districts and neighbouring communities[edit]

Location of Bolzano.
Aerial view of Bolzano.

City districts:

  • Centro-Piani-Rencio (German: Zentrum-Bozner Boden-Rentsch)
  • Don Bosco (German: Don Bosco-Neugries)
  • Europa-Novacella (German: Europa-Neustift)
  • Gries-San Quirino (German: Gries-Quirein)
  • Oltrisarco-Aslago (German: Oberau-Haslach)

Neighbouring communities are: Eppan, Karneid, Laives, Deutschnofen, Ritten, Jenesien, Terlan and Vadena.


Bolzano is connected to the motorway network A22-E45[26] to Trento and Verona and to Innsbruck (Austria) and Munich (Germany).

The city is also connected to the Italian railway system. Bolzano railway station, opened in 1859, forms part of the Brenner railway (Verona–Innsbruck), which is part of the main railway route between Italy and Germany. The station is also a junction of two branch lines, to Merano and Mals.

There is a 50-kilometre (31 mi) network of cycle paths, and about 30 percent of journeys in Bolzano are made by bicycle.[27]

There is a regular connection between Bolzano Airport (IATA: BZO) and Rome.


The town is host to an annual road running competition – the BOclassic – which features an elite men's 10K and women's 5K races. The event, first held in 1975, takes place on New Year's Eve and is broadcast live on television by Rai Sport Più.[28][29]

Bolzano is also the host city to the Giro delle Dolomiti annual road bike event.

Local teams[edit]

Ice hockey
American Football
  • Giants Bolzano The Giants plays in IFL (Italian Football League), the first league of the FIDAF
Softball and Baseball
  • Adler
  • Pool 77
  • Softball Club Dolomiti
  • SSV Bozen plays in the FBL (Austrian Fistball League), the first Austrian league.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Bolzano is twinned with:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bolzano": Rai Dizionario d'ortografia e di pronunzia
  2. ^ Ch. Dupont (1869). La Station hivernale et climatérique de Gries près de Botzen dans le Sud-Tyrol. Bale: Riehm.
  3. ^ Le unità di supporto del Comando Truppe Alpine (Italian)
  4. ^ "Qualità della vita 2010". Il Sole 24 Ore. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Qualità della vita 2011". Il Sole 24 Ore. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Qualità della vita 2012". Il Sole 24 Ore. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Pliny the Elder III.20
  8. ^ Karl Maria Mayr (1949). "Der Grabstein des Regontius aus der Pfarrkirche in Bozen". Der Schlern, 23, pp. 302-303.
  9. ^ As reported by Paulus Diaconus in his Historia Langobardorum, V 36, ed. Georg Waitz, MGH Scriptores rerum Langobardicarum, Hannover 1878, p. 35: comes Baioariorum quem illi gravionem dicunt.
  10. ^ Richard Heuberger (1930). "Natio Noricorum et Pregnariorum". Veröffentlichungen des Museum Ferdinandeum in Innsbruck, No. 10, p. 7.
  11. ^ Hannes Obermair (2007). "‘Bastard Urbanism’? Past Forms of Cities in the Alpine Area of Tyrol-Trentino". Concilium medii aevi, 10, pp. 53-76, esp. pp. 64-66.
  12. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCoolidge, William (1911). "Botzen". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 311. 
  13. ^ Ferdinand Troyer (1648). Bozner Chronik (Cronica der statt Botzen). Bozen.
  14. ^ Antony E. Alcock (1970). The History of the South Tyrol Question. London: Michael Joseph, p. 9.
  15. ^ a b City of Bolzano publication (Italian)
  16. ^ Claudio Corradetti (2013). "Transitional Justice and the Idea of ‘Autonomy Patriotism’ in South Tyrol." “Un mondo senza stati è un mondo senza guerre”. Politisch motivierte Gewalt im regionalen Kontext, ed. by Georg Grote, Hannes Obermair and Günther Rautz (EURAC book 60), Bozen–Bolzano, ISBN 978-88-88906-82-9, pp. 17–32, esp. p. 21.
  17. ^ Juliane Wetzel (1994). "Das Polizeidurchgangslager Bozen". Die vergessenen Lager, ed. by Wolfgang Benz and Barbara Distel (Dachauer Hefte, 5), Munich.
  18. ^ a b "Volkszählung 2011/Censimento della popolazione 2011". astat info (Provincial Statistics Institute of the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol) (38): 6–7. June 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  19. ^ Oscar Benvenuto (2007): "South Tyrol in Figures 2008", Provincial Statistics Institute of the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol, Bozen/Bolzano, p. 16, table 10.
  20. ^ "Dalai Lama erhielt Südtiroler Minderheitenpreis". STOL. Retrieved 15 January 2014.  (German)
  21. ^ Antony Alcock. The South Tyrol Autonomy. County Londonderry, Bozen/Bolzano, May 2001, p. 22
  22. ^ "Bolzano (BZ)" (PDF). Atlante climatico. Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  23. ^ "STAZIONE 020 Bolzano: medie mensili periodo 61 - 90". Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  24. ^ "Bolzano: Record mensili dal 1946" (in Italian). Servizio Meteorologico dell’Aeronautica Militare. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  25. ^ BZ '18–'45. One monument, one city, two dictatorships
  26. ^ Autostrada del Brennero SpA Brennerautobahn AG. Retrieved 19 June 2009.
  27. ^ Bolzano città della bicicletta (Bolzano as a cyclist's town)
  28. ^ Sampaolo, Diego (2010-01-01). Three-peat for Soi in Bolzano. IAAF. Retrieved on 20 May 2010.
  29. ^ Sampaolo, Diego (2008-12-31). Soi and Kibet at the double? Boclassic preview. IAAF. Retrieved on 20 May 2010.

External links[edit]

Media related to Bolzano at Wikimedia Commons