11. The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle & the Touriseum (universally accessible)
Blossoming gardens and eventful tourism history
Since 2001, the sunny slopes above Merano have been home to the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, where plants from all over the world thrive in over 80 garden landscapes. Rebuilt by Count Trauttmansdorff from medieval ruins in 1850, the imposing castle towering majestically in their midst today houses the Touriseum, South Tyrol’s Museum of Tourism. Tourism in Merano first began to flower after Empress Sissi’s sojourns, to whom a permanent exhibition is now dedicated.
Empress Elisabeth also left her own mark on the Gardens, where her “delightful footpaths, scattered with fine gravel” today lead through the steep white-oak woods to Matteo Thun’s Viewing Platform, and where, on Sundays in early summer, a sublime Breakfast at Sissi’s is offered on the stately Sissi Terrace. Moreover, the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle are part of Sisi’s Road, a cul-tural route of 1,400 kilometers tracing Her Majesty’s steps through six countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Greece and Switzerland).
A unique blend of botanical garden and recreational facility, Trauttmansdorff’s successful combination of nature, culture and art – together with its distinctive spirit of innovation – has garnered it several major awards, as well as recognition well beyond the borders of South Tyrol.