On one of our few days in this region, one of the owners of the contemporary South Tyrolean hotel, Hotel Muchele, (where we stayed) recommended we tour the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle in Merano (or Meran), Italy. She proved to have led us down the ‘right path’. I don’t think you want to visit the South Tyrol region without allowing yourself this visionary garden delight amongst the Dolomite region.
Although I am planning to write a post about these special owners and their hotel, in the meantime, here is a link to their hotel website. Meet the joyful family owners of the hotel where we stayed: https://www.muchele.com/en/muchele/hosts
If there ever was a garden that qualifies for a week long visit, or a year round visitor’s pass, this is it! Twelve hectares (30 acres!) of 80 varieties of botanical gardens. These gardens were named Italy’s Number One Garden one year and has claimed numerous other prestigious awards as well, including International Garden of the Year. The number of guests drawn to this attraction makes it the most visited attraction in South Tyrol.
It is easy to understand it popularity since it appeals to all ages due to its offering of a plethora of pleasing, stimulating, and educational activities, and, at the same time, acts as a gathering place for cultural diversity. During my travels I have had guidebooks supporting places of attraction that I have found, once there, disappointing, and can even qualify as a waste of my precious travel hours. But these gardens, well, they just don’t disappoint. This garden is an astounding feat, having taken a decade plus of planning and execution for it to come to fruition.
We had only allotted a couple of hours and, admittedly, at the time, I felt we did make a dent, yet, once I looked at their website, I realized there were a multitude of activities and views we certainly missed such as seeing the permanent exhibition in the castle, honing in on the experience stations, the grotto (there was a grotto?? Yikes! How did we miss that??), the lookout points, and aviary, just to name a few. This is also the kind of garden you could visit and spend an afternoon simply sitting on the platform off the pond, reading a book, and people-watching with a stop in at the nearby cafe for a drink. Aww–contentment….
As we made our way from our parked car, we had the opportunity to amble along a stream that started to prepare us for what was to come.
As mentioned, the spread over 12 hectares was vast but quite frankly, because of the long views of the surrounding area, it seemed to be endless, with the backdrop reminding you of where you are, the region of the Dolomites. As you start to take it all in, you come to realize the daily gardeners’ finely manicured care proves equal to the original execution of the landscape designers’ plans.
One of the hotel owners told us that the gardeners have been known to change out plantings in the middle of the night in order to keep the gardens always looking no less than meticulous! And, from what I can see, this must be true. Here is the website for the Trauttmansdorff Castle Gardens.
Once we got a glimpse of what we were going to be tackling, we voted for sustenance first and headed to the Tyrolean and Italian inspired restaurant to get a taste of the regional food being offered. The buildings and their layout are worth a look, of course. I remember thinking (but may not be true) that the stacks of suitcases acted as an homage to the immigrants. The stenciled glass door was aesthetically appropriate and spoke to my current day liking of blending the new and the old knowledge of craftsmanship.
As said, the long views beyond the 30 acres of official gardens didn’t always make it clear where the gardens officially stopped.
I was in awe of these overlook suspension platforms. And the blue skies and dark clouds took turns throughout the afternoon. With the sunny disposition of the flowers, the afternoon always felt bright and cheerful.
Exotic plants captured below…
Numerous pathways (above photo as an example) sending us in a variety of directions to see all the wonders of a vast number of plants and flowers thriving in this Mediterranean climate.
Bursts of color and flowing water….
A sunflower lover’s dream walk. This walkway carried us all along an extensive bed of nature-perfect sunflowers with not one backing down on showing off its sunny smile. The bottom photo on the right does reveal one flower that excels above all the others! It makes me smile every time as I am reminded of its ‘bravery’ to speak up and step out of line with the others, just as sometimes we need to do in our lives.
This section of the garden harbored sculptures of metal and wood. Ghostly, and leaning towards Halloweenish spooky, yet we maintained enough curiosity to explore more. Ah ha! I found a reference to this portion of the garden, known as The Forbidden Garden and the Fable of Belinda as well as an explanation of the various sculptures.
Then the pond…Well, it was calling us…
Views from the platform on the pond.
And, finally, the evening was drawing near…pulling us back to what turned out to be an unexpected but special dinner ‘event’ at the hotel. More about that in another post.