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South Tyrol: Culture and history

Moving history. Preserved traditions.

Your holiday region in Hochpustertal has quite a history, which has also characterised the culture landscape in South Tyrol. Discover the historically and culturally thrilling Hochpustertal!

South Tyrol has been inhabited since the Middle Stone Age. In the huge and thick forests of Europe at that time, the areas above the tree line were important for people.  In addition, the valleys were swampy and unproductive and there was a great risk of malaria. That is why people first settled the uplands. Then they gradually settled the main valleys and through copper mining in the Bronze Age they experienced their first true boom. The most famous find from this time is the glacier mummy "Ötzi“, which was found at the border to the North Tyrolean Ötztal valley and can today be admired in Bozen. South Tyrol's history has been extremely eventful ever since the times of the Ancient Romans. Many different peoples, tribes and rulers came to South Tyrol over the centuries, fought over the area and waged war.

10 September 1919: under the terms of the Treaty of Saint Germain signed with the victors of the First World War, the hitherto Austro-Hungarian South Tyrol was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.

This area south of the Brenner Pass had always been swapped around between the surrounding major powers. Between 1804 and 1867 Tyrol, apart from a few years' interruption by Napoleon, was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The radical change

In the years of World War I Italy and Hochpustertal were involved in a bloody and very exhausting alpine war, the Sextner Rotwand was one of the battlefields of the fierce position warfare.

The new South Tyrolean history only begins after Austro-Hungary had lost World War I and South Tyrol was then occupied by Italy and finally in 1919 it was annexed to Italy. This makes South Tyrol Italy’s most northern region. 

Land of the freedom fighters

At the beginning of the 19th century many popular freedom fighters, with Andreas Hofer leading the way, fought for the freedom of their country, which was then under Bavarian-French reign.

But also before, during and above all after the Second World War South Tyrol was not peaceful. In the first years of Italian rule, Italian fascist dictator Mussolini introduced the Italianisation of South Tyrol, to annex it totally to the Kingdom of Italy. Under the fascist dictator Mussolini, Italianisation was introduced.  Anything Austrian had to disappear from South Tyrol. The German language was banned in schools and public life, names were translated into Italian, citizens were pushed to leave South Tyrol and those  who remained were considered to be second-class citizens and were severely oppressed by the Italians. 

The 1960s in particular became known as the 'bomb years'. In the entire region, South Tyrol activists blew up power pylons in order to make a protest with an international echo against the oppression and the discontent in South Tyrol, that didn’t get what the Italian government had promised.

It was only in the 1990s when with the South Tyrolean autonomy politics rested and peace was brought to South Tyrol, which has lasted until today.

The preservation of culture

Despite the many bans and initiated “Italianasation” the country still kept its Tyrolean traditions. The folklore is very much loved and appreciated by the guests. Today the Italian, Ladin and German speaking groups live together in peace and common ground is found through mutual respect. It’s just one of the reasons why the Hochpustertal holiday region is worth a visit, culturally, historically and because of its landscapes. 

Leitlhof tip:

We recommend the folklore museum in Dietenheim and the DoloMythos museum to the Dolomites World Nature Heritage in Innichen, if you want to know more about the topic.

For those who want to get more information already before their holiday here, we recommend to watch the successful film adaptation of the Josef Zoderer book “Verkaufte Heimat. Eine Südtiroler Familiensaga. TV-Film in four parts” by Felix Mitterer (1989-94) or the film “Traener der Sextner Dolomiten” (Tears of the Sexten Dolomites). This is a film by Hubert Schönegger (2014) that talks about the Great War on the mountains of Sexten and Innichen.

Send us your no-obligation enquiry now for your holidays in the Hochpustertal in the Sextner Dolomites. Your host family Mühlmann is looking forward to your visit!