Have you ever imagined Alps could encompass the most beautiful botanical gardens in Italy? Yes, they do. The Botanical Gardens of Trauttmansrdoff Castle in the Merano Mountains offer an exquisite array of colours and bloom for each season of the year. The castle had been one of the retreats of Empress Elizabeth – Sissi of Austria - and its gardens, nowadays, extend to 12 hectares. The area consists in 80 different natural environments, grouped into four bigger thematic zones which are The Sun Gardens, Forest of the Worlds, The Water and Terraced Gardens and the South Tyrol landscapes. This environment is the house for plants and flowers coming from all over the world. I went there in summer, so I could see the sunflowers and the roses blossoming, among other kind of specimen. There are sectors recalling of Mediterranean trees, buds and different flora of the sunny region. There is a stunning section made up of semidesert succulents and a trendy palm grove with sand in which you can easily go to get a tan.
Also, you can admire the lemon terrace, a 700 hundreds year old olive tree and the forbidden garden; this one having extravagant sculptures and poisonous grasses. The venue is dedicated to the witches' myths and legends, and it is pictured as the secret place to collect ingredients for the magical potions.
The beauty continues as you enter in the fern glen and in forest of redwoods and Australian specimens like the rare Wollemia nobilis. You are literally able to jump from those kinds of watery landscapes with falls and shadow, to the Japanese gardens, stopping by the glasshouse, where a clever engine shows the activity of the leaf-cutter ants. So interesting!
For the more romantics, Trauttsmandorf Castle has created a maze among the Water and terraced Gardens itinerary. Here, the attractive points are the lily pond (a lake inhabited by Japanese koi carps, swans and turtles) and the sense garden.
The countryside passionate can immerse in the south Tyrol experience: the traditional vineyards and nowadays disappeared varieties of apples and pears are being preserve within the gardens' soil. A vegetable garden belonging to the farmers' tradition grows few metres from the alluvial forest, highlighting, again, the perfect and clever planning of every single specific topic.
Furthermore, visitors can take a break at the Botany Stations that act as educational pit-stops. You can read about the history on geological rocks of Trentino, understanding the coordination of a beehive and the dragonflies' track clock.
Lots of animals live in the gardens: snakes, rabbits, sheep, butterflies and parrots to mention a few. I suggest to reach the aviary and the lily pond (just in front of the cafe') to interact with them.
Artistic pavilions and installations decorate the huge area, even though I am not completely in tune with the meaning of the works. If you want to live a break-taking moment, I recommend the scenic platform designed by architect Matteo Thun, that offers a specular view on the Adige valley.
I really appreciated seeing a group of young people getting involved in garden's maintenance and care. When a community put effort and love in preserving a precious site, then anyone can benefit from their commitment.
The castle hosts the Tourismuseum, but after six hours spent in the gardens, I was exhausted and I left Merano back home. Next time I shall visit it. However, if you are interested, guided tours are available, as well as personalized/themed/family excursions and events.
You can dine at the restaurant and the café; buy souvenirs from the gift shop or book to enjoy unforgettable experience packages. Click here to read about and get info on how to get there.