Vipiteno (Sterzing in German) is an active commercial center in the Inn Valley, in the province of Bolzano, dominated by Monte Cavallo to the west and Hühnerspiel to the north-east, crossed by the River Isarco, at just 15km from the Brenner Pass. It is a very popular resort for its wide and varied tourist offer: outdoor walks along the well-marked mountain trails, excursions of varying difficulty to Monte Cavallo, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and sledding (implantation of Monte Cavallo offers the longest toboggan run in Italy), but also several architectural works, witnesses during the centuries of the central role played by the Vipiteno, both in terms of trade and in politics, as well as the economic and cultural fervor that characterized the life of its inhabitants .
About the origins of the name, two different theories are recorded, according to some historians, in fact, it derives from Sterlz or Starz, a pilgrim cripple, also immortalized in the city coat of arms, whilst according to others, instead to a hypothetical foundry sesterces (hence, by assonance, Sterzing) located near the Roman Vipitenum.
The area was inhabited since prehistoric times. In 15 B.C., after the Roman conquest by Drusus, it became a military garrison of Vipitenum. In the IV century the Bavarians settled in the area and deforested the lands and built the a series of farms. In medieval times, the new settlement experienced a rapid growth, due to its favorable geographical position, at short distance from the main roads and on a border crossings. For this reason, Meinhard II of Tyrol, in 1280, to counter the ambitions of the bishops of Bressanone and keep under control the Inn Valley, had the centre fortified with tall walls and granted privileges to the local traders. The revenue increased significantly in conjunction with the extraction of silver and lead from the nearby mines and the hospitality business, boosted by the passage of pilgrims, travelers, couriers and traders. The city was enriched with palaces, public buildings and monuments. It was annexed to the State of Italy after the First World War.
Sites of Interest:
- the Stele of Mithras, which was found in 1589 and dating back to the Roman conquest, and in 1797 was transferred to Innsbruck before, and in Vienna, then. It is currently preserved at the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, after the Italian government has demanded the return to the Austrian and a copy is on display in the courtyard of City Hall of Vipiteno;
- the Roman milestone, discovered in 1979, is preserved in the courtyard of the town hall;
- the Tower of the Twelve, or Civic Tower is the symbol of the city. It was built in 1468-1472 and separates the Old Town from the New Town. The current appearance, with pitched roof and gables of stone and dates back to 1867, after a devastating fire destroyed the original wooden spire;
- the Town Hall, built between 1468 and 1473, contains a valuable work of art. Interestingly, the Council Hall, covered in wood, with exposed beams.
- the Palace of the Teutonic Order, which was originally a hospice founded in 1241 and was assigned to the Teutonic Order in 1254 and turned it into a commendation, holding it until 1805.
- the historical center, with beautiful facades, balconies full of flowers and the characteristic erker;
- the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Marshes, grandiose and imposing late Gothic building, built in the XV century and later embellished with Baroque style decoations. The chorus, however, dates back to the previous building in the Gothic style. Impressive is the wooden altar, sculptural masterpiece by Hans Multscher, whose altarpieces are now kept in the Museum of Multscher and the Civic Museum of Vipiteno;
- the Pilgrim Hospice and the Church of the Holy Spirit, a complex built by the will of the local inhabitants in 1399, the frescoes of the church are artworks of the artist Giovanni di Brunico;
- the Baroque Church of Santa Margherita (XVII century);
- the Baroque Church of Santa Maddalena dei Cappuccini, with an altarpiece by Joseph Renzler;
- the Church of St. Elizabeth, in the Palace of the Teutonic Order, octagonal, with altarpiece and frescoes by Matthäus Günther of Augsburg;
- the Gilfenkamm and the Stanga waterfalls;
- the Mill of Wolfen;
- the Museum Multscher and the Civic Museum, both housed in the palace of the Teutonic Order. The Multscher, in particular, retains some of