Trentino-Alto Adige might as well be two regions, Trentino in the south and Alto Adige in the north, near the Austrian border.
Both parts of the region enjoy semi-autonomy from central government, along with one of the highest standards of living in Italy.
Tourism, farming and wine production are the mainstays of the economy, and there are plenty of good, affordable guesthouses and agritourism places in the mountains and vineyards.
The landscape is dominated by the stark and jagged Dolomites, among the most beautiful mountains in the country.
One of the first things you'll notice about Alto Adige is its German character. It comes by it rightfully; until 1919, Alto Adige was known as the South Tyrol and was part of Austria. At the end of World War I, Austria ceded South Tyrol to the Italians, and Mussolini renamed it after the upper reaches of the Adige River, which bisects the region.
Many Tyrolleans opted for resettlement in Germany, but others stayed in the region and have maintained their language, culture and traditions. Gothic onion-domed churches dot the landscape of vineyards and forests, street signs are in German, and there's sauerkraut and strudel on the menu.
By contrast, Trentino is 98 percent Italian-speaking, and the food and architecture belong more to the Mediterranean world than to the Alps.