South Tyrol

A little history

Alto Adige came under Roman rule from the 1st century A.D. onwards and thereafter was controlled successively by Odoacre, Theodoric, the Longobards, the Carolingians and the Holy Roman Empire. In the 11th century the episcopal principality of Bressanone was formed under German dominion. During the medieval period the Hapsburgs broadened their feudal possessions to this area and began an intense process of 'Germanisation' that was well received by a population happy to be considered a part of the Hapsburg empire. In 1803, the Principality of Bressanone was secularized and became part of Austrian Tyrol; and, in 1810, Alto Adige was incorporated into Napoleonic Italy and known as "the department of Alto Adige" which, apart from the Trentino, also included the southern part of the Alto Adige. After the congress of Vienna in 1815 which was a means of bringing order to Europe after the definitive defeat of Napoleon, the entire area came under Austrian control which then took up again the policy of 'Germanisation' in the area, something much welcomed by people in the province of Bressanone (in sharp contrast to the rest of Lombardy and Veneto) due to the profound hatred felt by the people toward the Austro-Hungarian empire. At the end of the first world war Alto Adige was finally joined of Italy, and from 1927 onwards has been known as the province of Bolzano. The Italian-German alliance between Mussolini and Hitler, brought about an agreement on 23 June 1939 allowing for the transfer of the German-speaking population who wished to take up German citizenship, to do so on German soil. After the war, however, an accord was reached in Paris on 5th September 1946 between Italian P.M. De Gasperi, and Gruber granting Alto Adige a large degree of administrative autonomy which was meant to reflect the strong sense of regional identity felt by the German-speaking population as a result of historical events that had contributed over the centuries to forge this identity at all levels of society.