This Italian Town Might Make You Think You're In Germany ... And It's Totally Worth A Visit

It's no surprise that Italy is a popular tourist destination, with its timeless architecture, charming people, delicious cuisine, and overall romantic atmosphere. Many people think of Italy as a stereotype: pictures of men in striped shirts riding gondolas in Venice or nonnas (grandmothers) hand-rolling pasta and hanging clothes out of their windows. While this is true in more tourist-heavy areas, Italy is much more than the clichés we know. In fact, if you dare to venture away from Venice, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, and Florence, and head further north to Cavalese in the Trentino region, Italy transforms from stereotypically Italian to stereotypically German.

Cavalese is a small town with strong German and Austrian roots. Thanks to a rich history dating back to the early 1900s, this beautiful Italian oasis has some unique offerings that will leave travelers pleasantly surprised. In Italy, it's easy to travel around thanks to efficient and sprawling trains, especially with an unlimited Eurail pass. This makes it even easier to venture out from the typical large cities and pay Cavalese a visit on your next vacation to Italy.

History of Trentino and its German influence

You might be scratching your head thinking, "Why does a random town in Italy resemble Germany?" Well, the history is long and complicated. Under Napoleon rule, Trentino (the region in which Cavalese resides) was part of the "Alto Adige Department," making it part of the Kingdom of Italy. After the Napoleonic era, however, Trentino became part of Tyrol, which was primarily German-speaking. Trentino's geographical location made it strategically important in the chance there was a war between the Austro-Hungarians and Italians, driving high troop levels and heavy fortifications. In 1915, when Italy entered World War I, Trentino was disproportionately effected and became the brunt of battlegrounds.

Trentino was eventually annexed by Italy in 1919 and officially united with the country. The area is commonly referred to as Südtirol, or South Tyrol, which is the official name of the Italian province. Trentino has since been an autonomous region of Italy, but the German influence still lingers today in the architecture, food, and language. While there are many towns to choose from when visiting the Trentino region, few remain more charming than Cavalese.

What it's like visiting Cavalese today

Cavalese might appear to have that fairytale-like charm of Austria or Germany, but it's still very much Italian. Italian is widely spoken, though seeing German translations on signs, especially in train stations and restaurants, is quite common.

The food is further evidence that German influence is strong. While many associate Italian cuisine with pizza and pasta, ingredients in this region include speck, cream, potatoes, mushrooms, and meat, like rabbit and beef. Hearty dishes like polenta and spaetzle are commonly found on menus.

There's no shortage of great accommodation in Cavalese, but the best of the best is La Roccia Wellness Hotel. One of the hotel's best amenities is an infinity pool overlooking the Dolomites. This family-run establishment offers guests to visit their private winery and farm, Maso, where guests can enjoy eating eighteen-month cured speck that is made right on the premises, along with a glass (or two) of Solaris wine.

Cavalese is also well-known for their sports, such as skiing and volleyball. Skiing is extremely popular in Val di Fiemme, the valley in which Cavalese is located.

The best ways to get to Cavalese are by taking the train to either Trento or Bolzano. From either of these locations, it's about an hour drive or bus ride (though, having a car is highly recommended here). The nearest major airports are Milano Malpensa, Innsbruck, Munich, and Venice Marco Polo.