During a trip to Italy last week, we spent a gorgeous afternoon in the city of Balzano.  The reason it has three names is that this region has a complicated history and the people speak Italian, German or a local language called Ladin.  It has been an important trading post since at least 1190 as it sits between two major cities – Venice and Augsburg

Some of the city’s history is dark.  Having been part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, it was annexed by Italy after World War I.  It was mostly German speaking at the time, but underwent an intense period of ‘Italianisation’ under Mussolini during the 1920’s.  During World War II the city was held by the Germans until the end of the war and for nearly a year there was a Nazi transit camp here.

Today the city is rather serene, with beautiful architecture set against a dramatic mountain backdrop.

The Duomo in the corner of Piazza Walther, completed in 1420.

One of the two lions holding up the porch columns of the Duomo.

Lion number 2!

The Obstmarkt on Goethe Strasse. This famous market is open 6 days a week selling food and flowers.

More colour at the Obstmarkt

Carciofi and carciofini (artichokes) at the Obstmarkt.

The famous Laubengasse or Portici – the heart of the medieval commercial centre, with its historic arcades and archways.

A chemist shop on the Laubengasse.

Advertising the Walter opticians on the Laubengasse.

The historic Amonn House on Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square), at the end of Laubengasse.

There’s a beautiful park and walkway alongside the River Talvera / Talfer, with a view up to the Dolomite mountains.  The walkway leads from the bridge in the city centre.

Maretsch Castle, from the 13th century. The vineyard within its ancient walls grows Lagrein grapes.  The castle is only about 5 minutes walk from the Tafferbrucke bridge along the river walkway.

An evening view from Piazza Walther / Waltherplatz.