South Tyrol’s wineries produce a bounty of hard-to-find (in the States) Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Vernatsch, Lagreins, and Spumantes—they’re also a showcase in striking, sustainable architecture. Tour them along the Wine Route, stopping off at Manincor Winery, the region’s largest estate producer. The semi-subterranean modernist wine cellar, designed by local architect Walter Angonese, was built with minimal impact on the land. Alois Lageder, in Margreid, produces award-winning whites in a solar-powered ultramodern steel-and-glass building; even the equipment is run off a photovoltaic energy system.
The best way to protect the saw-toothed Dolomites—which have more than 10,563 miles of trails—is to explore them on foot. For rigorous hikes, take the Vigiljoch Seilbahn cable car up to Monte San Vigilio, grabbing a trail map at the station. Take the three-hour climb to Hochwart, a wind-swept peak boasting postcard panoramas. For a more leisurely stroll, head back to the valley floor to the Waalweges, a 100-mile network of pathways that follow century-old irrigation channels through orchards and vineyards. From Lagundo, the hour-long Waalwege to the medieval village of Dorf Tirol is idyllic for its twelfth-century castle.
Have your pick of 25 pools (salt-water, indoor-outdoor, cool-dip, whirlpool) at the 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Merano Thermal Baths. A transparent cube of glass and steel, designed by Thun, houses sauna, spa, and pool rooms, while the sprawling outdoor complex is dotted with larger pools and landscaped with lily ponds and rose gardens.