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154km (95 miles) N of Verona, 118km (73 miles) S of Innsbruck, 57km (35 miles) NE of Trent

Without even crossing a border, by heading north from Trent into the Alto Adige region, you'll find yourself in a place that doesn't resemble Italy at all. During its long history, this pretty town at the confluence of the Talvera and Isarco rivers has been ruled by the bishops of Trent, the counts of Tirol, and the Habsburgs, to name but a few of its lords. Bolzano (Bozen in German) has been part of Italy only since the end of World War I. As you explore the narrow streets and broad platzen (piazze) and stroll through the parks that line the town's two rivers, you get the sense that, with its gabled, Tirolean-style houses and preference for Germanic dialect, the city is still more Teutonic than Italian.

Bolzano's foundation dates back to the Iron Age -- and now there's even a full-fledged (and famous) Ice Man cooling his 5,000-year-old heels in the excellent local archaeology museum. But Bolzano didn't really pick up steam until the Middle Ages, when its situation at a river confluence just south of an Alpine pass made it an important small market town.