Surrounded by the green mountains of South Tyrol, Vipiteno is one of my favorite places in Italy. It’s a small, fairy tale village that encapsulates the authentic spirit of this northern region, with its pastel coloured houses, bow windows and little squares. Given its closeness to the Austrian border, Vipiteno has always been one of the most important towns in South Tyrol, together with Brixen (Bressanone). Founded by the Romans, most of the village was destroyed by a big fire and then rebuilt in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. On its coat of arms, you can see a crippled pilgrim; according to the legend, he was the first inhabitant of the modern town.
Vipiteno: a quick city tour
As you walk along the main street, you’ll come across some of the symbols of Vipiteno: the Tower of the Twelve, which separates the old town from the new town; the late Gothic Town Hall; the church of Santo Spirito – the oldest Gothic church in Vipiteno – and the church dedicated to the “Madonna della Palude”. A larger, tree-lined road leads to the Deutschhaus, an imposing palace which houses the civic museum and the Multscher museum. Beside stands St. Elizabeth’s Church with its beautiful decorations and wooden benches, which look more like sculptures. If you are as fond as I am of ancients maps, you cannot miss the collection displayed in the civic museum.
Pasticceria Prenn and the best poppy seed cake ever
I might have mentioned (once or twice…) that cakes are one of the greatest pleasures in South Tyrol. Don’t even try to resist. When I’m up there in the mountains, every day I wake up anticipating the moment of “merenda”, when I can have my slice of cake and cup of tea: ricotta cheesecake, apple strudel, Sacher Torte, Lizer Torte, buckwheat cake and, in summertime, apricot cake. But the winner will always be the apple and poppy cake of Pasticceria Prenn, the oldest patisserie in Vipiteno.
A buttery crust encloses a filling of almonds, poppy seeds and apples. Pure heaven. And it’s even better if served with a cup of black tea with milk, which warms you up in the cold days. But the other cakes are delicious, too. And they also make sandwiches, smoothies and hot chocolate. In short, there are more than enough reasons to visit Vipiteno and Pasticceria Prenn. And you’ll be looking forward to going there again.