Laurent Vella/Courtesy Relais & Chateaux
Top 10 European Cities for Smart Splurges
THE DRAW Among European cities, this little-known town in Italy’s Dolomites is an insider destination for savvy nature and food lovers. Surrounded by picturesque mountains, tiny traditional farms, small vineyards, and apple orchards, Bolzano is the area’s greenest corner, with fresh mountain air and almost 300 days of sun. The region surrounding Bolzano is also one of Italy’s most affordable; the price of a weeklong vacation in Tuscany will buy two weeks of vacation here.
DON’T MISS The area’s top-notch small vineyards; some are located within the city’s limits. One of the cult winemakers in Bolzano, Josephus Mayr, produces an extremely sought-after red called Lamarein.
WHEN TO GO Travel from April (when the apple trees start to bloom) through October (for the wine harvest festival).
WHERE TO STAY Bolzano’s first and only modern boutique hotel, Hotel Greif (www.greif.it), offers 33 unique designer rooms with wood floors, Persian carpets, and contemporary art. The location, just off the town’s main square, Piazza Walther, makes a stay there a smart splurge. Not far away is the cozy Hotel Figl (www.figl.net). A stay in the top-floor apartment, a two-room suite with a small kitchenette, is a great value.
COMBINE WITH A day at Terme Merano (www.termemerano.it) – a traditional spa stunningly redesigned by native son and famous architect Matteo Thun – located in the nearby historic spa town of Merano.