Men in Shorts: Alto Adige

When does Italy not seem like Italy?
When you are Alto Adige, the northern most part of the Trentino-Alto Adige region.

Just before snow began falling in this high alpine area, home of the Dolomite Mountains, I attended the fall harvest festival in Merano.

From somewhere around the year 1000 until the end of World War I in 1919, Alto Adige was part of the German speaking area that eventually became known as Tyrol under the Austrian Empire. According to the treaty that ended the war, the Italians got South Tyrol (Sud Tïrol) and re-named it Alto Adige (which translates to High Adige—the area is in the northern most part of the Adige River Valley).

Years of intense struggle between the German speaking population and the Italian government followed. Finally, a treaty in 1971 that included United Nations oversight allowed the region a fair amount of autonomy. As a result, the residents of this area predominantly speak German and a majority send their children to public schools where a German curriculum is taught in German.
All the signs at the food stands at the festival were written in German.
The local cheeses and smoked meats were decidedly alpine.
There was a beer garden atmosphere…note the palm trees because of Merano’s sunny microclimate.
And most people were in traditional costumes.
My lunch, a variation on Italian bruschetta that had bacon on it, of course accompanied by a glass of beer.
After lunch, everyone began lining up for the parade…

…which began under this stone archway that was once a gateway into the town.
And wound its way through the streets.
With bands and costumed people marching along interspersed with elegant floats.

For more information on this festival (called Festival of the Grape) and others that occur annually, check out this link.

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