Between Veneto in the south and Austria and Switzerland in the north sit two self-governing provinces, combined in the 1940s into the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige, sharing one capital city but each with its own administrative powers. It's a unique area, to say the least.
The Trentino-Alto Adige region was long a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and one of the other names of the Alto Adige province—Südtirol—is evidence of its continued ties to the Tyrolian land of Austria just across the border. It's extremely mountainous, and often feels more Germanic than Italian—you're apt to see and hear German as often as Italian, in fact.
The mountains draw hordes of skiers and snowboarders in the winter months, while the great outdoors is a summer playground for hikers, mountain climbers, and lake lovers. A volcanic past means thermal hot springs, and there are several spa towns in Trentino-Alto Adige that have been attracting visitors for centuries.
Trentino-Alto Adige, like other Italian regions that are so heavily mountainous, can be challenging to get around strictly by train. The bigger cities are accessible via the country's rail network, but beyond that it's often much easier to get around with a car.
Photo credits: Kizel Cotiw-an