This semester, the BS Travel & Tourism Management biannual field trip saw AUR students exploring sustainable tourism in South Tyrol, Italy’s northernmost province (and, some say, its best-kept secret). South Tyrol is an awe-inspiring land of contrasts, where the Mediterranean meets the monumental Dolomites and where an eclectic mix of cultures: Italian, German, Austrian, and Ladin is entwined everywhere.
The Dolomites were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009 for their exceptional natural beauty as well as their international significance for geomorphology.
AUR students were given a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a majestic alpine landscape as well as a captivating variety of cuisine, architecture, history, and traditions while simultaneously experiencing and engaging with best practices in sustainable tourism.
THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
South Tyrol through the eyes of Kelly Staudinger
“I don’t know what to expect”...
“Mountains aren’t my thing”...
“I’m nervous because it's a school trip”...
“What if it's boring”...
“This is going to be exhausting”...
These quotes are some of the things I heard from some students before taking this Destination Marketing class at Bolzano in the Dolomite Mountains. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
Peace entered our souls again as we hiked with Dr. Walther Dorfmann, a retired geography professor specializing in the geomorphology of the Dolomites, and his dog, up these historical, archaeologically magnificent trails. The fresh cold air blew through our lungs as we were walking through the clouds. In front of the mountains hang a curtain of clouds, slowly drifting away revealing the masterpiece ahead of us.
There we were, at a small mountain cabin, Kaserill Alm located at 1,920 m above sea level in the Puez-Odle Nature Park, feasting on exquisite traditional South Tyrolean food. As the curtains cleared, we had a front-row seat of the snowy peaks - espresso and schnapps in hand - experiencing the beauty and traditional joy of mountain life in the Dolomites.
That day we experienced every aspect of South Tyrolian culture through a historical, food and culture, sustainable, and local standpoint. Whilst enjoying traditional foods and local wines we learned about the science behind the formation of the mountains, how they formed 250 million years ago underwater, and that the majority of the mountains are fossilized shells and corals. We were even lucky enough to find fossils of shells on the trail!
Sparkling blues, colorful lights, peace, serenity, and healing vibes. Terme Merano: Le terme in Alto Adige, the paradise of Italy, was one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. Aiming to be the first fully eco-run Thermal Baths and Health Facility in Italy, ecotourism is right up their alley, as it is mine.
Getting an inside look at the facilities opened up my eyes to the depth of the world of tourism, especially ecotourism. Receiving a presentation on the transparency of these thermal baths and the work behind the marketing, upkeep, and sustainable development of the facility by their Marketing & PR Director was an amazing learning opportunity for all of us. We were able to see first-hand what careers our degrees could lead us to.
Last day, we were gifted with the interactive experience of historical tourism and granted a tour of the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology to learn about Ötzi the Iceman, the 5,300-year-old wet mummy, one of the most important discoveries in archaeology, which changed the timeline of the Copper Age in the Alpine region by about 1,000 years and offered an unprecedented view of Copper Age Europeans. Before his discovery, it was believed that the Copper Age started a thousand years later than it did, but after finding him with a copper blade axe, history changed forever. This attraction is a locally beneficial tourism opportunity drawing people to the region for its culture and history.
Being enveloped in the cultural heritage, history, and stories of this region's most important discoveries revealed to me the different branches of tourism and how interconnected local and historical tourism are.
Having recently moved to Rome, the chaotic nature of this beautiful city, coming from the suburbs, has been an experience. Growing up in the middle of the forest in Northern New Jersey, the trees, the fresh winter air, and the northern vibes were all things I didn’t know were missing from my life. This trip instilled peace within me, a little break in nature, and a safe space, with other students like myself, sharing the same passions. It was a welcoming feeling.
I have always wanted to travel the world and see all there is to see out there, but I didn’t know where to start. Destination Marketing seemed like a perfect jump-start into exploring unique destinations and getting a deeper understanding of the world. The trip was daunting at first, but the experience inspired me to take action in the career path I want to pursue, regardless of how difficult it may seem. Being provided with a hands-on experiential learning opportunity to learn about ecotourism, historical tourism, food, and culture tourism, had allowed me to get an insight into my future. And now I know how I truly feel about what I want to do.
"It was exhausting, it was exhilarating, it was liberating, and it changed my life."
South Tyrol through the eyes of Aurora Till
Transferring to a college abroad was one of the most difficult choices I’ve ever made, and finding a university that valued experiential learning was a challenge in itself. Experience is what makes us human and unique from each other, and I believe we can learn so much about ourselves and each other just from our experience in the world. Before coming on this field trip, I didn't have much of an understanding of The South Tyrol region or its people. I had only done a little bit of reading and seen “The Instagramable” aspect of the destination. I was pleasantly surprised to learn and experience what felt like a completely different culture and exposed myself to a new sustainable way of life in which the people live. The Dolomites offers some of the most amazing and breathtaking views, along with endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Beyond the stunning nature and aesthetics lies something deeper, When you visit the Dolomites I would encourage any traveler unfamiliar to the area to speak and learn from the amazing people that live there. I found the local people I met on this field trip to be incredibly unique, creative, and deeply intelligent. The knowledge they carry has obviously been passed from generation to generation, sustaining their culture as a whole. I left this trip feeling inspired and changed by the experience. University in Rome can feel overwhelming at times, but in the end this trip completely reassured me that my decision to study at AUR was the right one. I am leaving this experience feeling more equipped for my future and inspired to work towards my goals, while striving for genuine intercultural communication and understanding.
South Tyrol through the eyes of Ali Alzayadi
Words simply could not express the South Tyrol trip as anything but a magical dream. It was the most stimulating region of the world I have ever experienced. I have been all over the world but nothing could even compare to the Dolomites. The voyage granted me plenty of inspiration for art, creativity, and wisdom from within. I would recommend this class to anyone that is curious about what the planet Earth has to offer.
South Tyrol through the eyes of Margherita Storij
I think I can speak for all the students who attended this trip when I state that it was an unbelievable experience, which is impossible to describe unless you were there.
South Tyrol through the eyes of Tatiana Parente
I have never been the type of girl who particularly enjoys walking, but I'd still do it a thousand times if I had to because it's worth the effort. It was a warm environment that made everything special; it makes you feel almost at home. It is a journey that makes you understand the importance of respect for nature and its ecological value, all this with the company of breathtaking landscapes. This is the kind of trip I would like to suggest and recommend to every student.
South Tyrol through the eyes of Nana Davitashvili
A trip to South Tyrol as an eco-tourist made me appreciate the rich culture, compelling nature, and delightful cuisine the area offers. Seeing all the hard work behind developing and supporting the site through eco-friendly measures changed how I view the tourism industry. It introduced me to the possibilities of creating a valuable, attractive, and thrilling tourism destination while practicing sustainability. I will always cherish the memories I collected during the journey to South Tyrol and continue reliving them through the pictures I captured.
South Tyrol through the eyes of Grace McNamara
One of the main things that I learned over the course of the trip is about how many of the towns are focusing on the slow food movement, so they source locally grown materials and also do things to enhance the natural beauty of the areas rather than destroy it.
South Tyrol through the eyes of Emily Troutman
It was definitely my favorite trip I have been on since coming to Rome. I was able to make so many friends and do so many unique things that I had never even heard about before. I will never forget the Dolomites and will be back one day to explore them again.
South Tyrol through the eyes of Maya Logan
Reflecting on my time in South Tyrol, I find myself thinking back and reliving this life-changing experience. It’s mind-boggling to think that before this trip, I didn’t know what South Tyrol was or that it even existed. This makes me realize how many places there are around the world that I don’t even know I’m missing and that it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity that arises. As a Sociology and Criminology major on a trip based on Travel and Tourism Management, it’s fair to say that I came into this trip with little knowledge about travel or tourism. However, the vast amount of firsthand experience and information that I acquired throughout the weekend was incredible. I can truly say that this was an experience that I will never forget.