A Pan Shot of the Past.

The people of South Tyrol live and work in a relatively young territory. The South Tyrol we know today has only been in existence for 40 years. Since the issuance of the second autonomous status in 1972, the South Tyrolean regional government has the power to make sovereign decisions, independent from the Italian state, in numerous sectors including health care, industry, commerce, trade, public safety and road construction. From this special status emerge numerous advantages for South Tyrol as a film location. But more about that later.

Prequel. Once Upon a Time… Man

Perhaps you remember this cult TV series from the late 1970s? Although it was a French animation production, the series has a lot in common with South Tyrol. Once upon a time there was a very special man, who tells the story of South Tyrol. Post mortem, but to the entire world: Ötzi, the man from the ice. Found in 1991, his story shares vital insight and a historical view into the past of the “region in the mountains”. Around 15 B.C. under Emperor Augustus, Rome developed a continuous trade route between Italy and Germania. Military routes like the “Via Claudia Augusta” and early Christian churches remind us of the beginnings of transalpine trade. 500 years later, the Romans retreat from the Alps. Bavarian tribes move in from the north and influence the culture in the main valleys south of the Alps. But there is resistance, also of  linguistic nature. In the lateral and high valleys of the Dolomites, an independent language survives – and continues to do so today: Ladin is still spoken by 4% of the population in South Tyrol.

History-Telling: From Counts, Convents and Storybook Castles

The region carries their name – the Counts of Tyrol, who governed the region from the 11th century on as reeves of the Bishops of Trent and Brixen. Convents such as Gries, Innichen, Marienberg, Neustift and Sonnenburg, and famous castles and castle grounds like Castle Taufers, Castle Chur, Hocheppan and Castle Runkelstein relate the spiritual, cultural and secular creative power on the southern side of the Alps, even to this day. Even linguistically, South Tyrol speaks for itself. For example by way of the well-known minnesinger and politician Oswald von Wolkenstein (1377–1445) from the Pustertal Valley, who was known well beyond the borders of the South Tyrol. With a passion for writing, the fearless knight travels through Europe and the Levant, leaving a long trail of historical traces, poems and songs. In 1363 the county of Tyrol is passed over to the Habsburg Dynasty. The following centuries are marked by conflicts between secular and religious powers. Hungary and Bohemia fall to Austria in the 16th century and, from a political perspective, the comparatively small Tyrol leads a shadowy existence in Central Europe. After Austria is forced to relinquish Tyrol for a short time to Bavaria during the Napoleonic Wars, the province is returned to Austria in 1813.

Complex Screenplay: A German-Italian Fusion

Some 100 years later, at the end of the First World War, South Tyrol becomes part of the Italian state within the framework of the Peace Treaty of Saint Germain. From 1922 on, under Mussolini, a woebegone period of Fascist “Italianization Politics” begins for the German-speaking population in the region. Names of places and people are replaced with – sometimes even completely imaginary - Italian concepts. German as the language of instruction is immediately prohibited. During this time, the German language is secretly taught, often by laymen, in clandestine schools (so-called “Catacomb Schools”). In 1939, Hitler and Mussolini draw up a settlement, according to which South Tyrol would remain a region of Italy, but the South Tyroleans had the option of emigrating to the German Empire. Some 75,000 citizens leave their homeland – and went from bad to worse. The time up to the end of the Second World War left its mark on South Tyrol’s capital city, traces of which are still evident today. Young Italian architects were commissioned to create an Italian Bolzano and built an entire district of the city with rows of houses and buildings in Fascist Neoclassical style. Even after the Second World War, the situation in South Tyrol (the so-called “South Tyrolean question”) remained unsettled. Among the German-speaking population, there is a strong aspiration for independence from Italy. Within the framework of the Treaty of Paris, Austria and Italy come to an agreement to grant autonomous status to South Tyrol. In 1948 the Italian constitutional national assembly grants autonomy to the area. The South Tyroleans who emigrated to Germany are allowed to return and accept Italian citizenship. But the actual execution of the agreement remains a difficult endeavor. The increasing dissatisfaction culminates in the “night of fire” in June 1961, with over 40 perpetrating attacks on electrical towers and train lines. Suddenly the world becomes aware of the situation in South Tyrol and its German- and Ladin-speaking population’s desire for self control and autonomy. The “South Tyrol Case” is taken to the UNO plenum.

The Credits: Unique in all of Europe

In 1969 Austria and Italy ratify a “package” for the protection of South Tyrolean interests, which is followed by the second granting of autonomy in 1972. From then on, South Tyrol has the autonomous authority to issue its own laws in many areas of self-government, including the areas most significant to the economy of South Tyrol: tourism and the hotel and restaurant industries. But other areas also fall under South Tyrol’s autonomous authority: hunting and fishing, trade fairs and commerce, communication and transportation, agriculture, child care and schools. Today, Italy’s northernmost province is one of the wealthiest in all of Italy. Not least due to its rich cultural and architectural heritage, but also because of its manifold natural reserves and privileged location south of the Alpine main ridge, South Tyrol offers some of the most unique locations in all of Europe.

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