Art and nature have been blending for 16 years at the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, set in a natural amphitheatre on the eastern outskirts of Merano, with more than 80 garden landscapes from around the world and several unique Experience Stations, Artist Pavillions and a spectacular viewing platform designed by star architect Matteo Thun, in addition to attractions like the Forbidden Garden, the Botanical Underworld and a „Lovers’ Garden“ that opened last year to celebrate the 15 years of the structure. For this gorgeous picture and the innovating spirit that lies behind its conception, Trauttmansdorff was named Italy’s Most Beautiful Garden in 2005 and Europe’s No. 6 Garden in 2006. Its subsequent crowning as International Garden of the Year in 2013 launched this unique complex in the firmament of world’s most beautiful gardens and parks. From the magnificent blooming of thousands of tulips to the enrapturing colours of fall foliage in November, these gardens delight guests the whole year through even with musical and culinary highlights, as for instance the “imperial” brunches, called Breakfast at Sissi’s, or the topclass world music of the evocative Garden Nights series, the Friday evenings in summer that last until 11 p.m. and again some wine tours that include a viewing of the largest and almost certainly oldest vine in the world, the Versoaln at Katzenzungen Castle in Prissian. Trauttmansdorff Castle sits enthroned in the centre of the gardens: this imposing structure, where Empress Elisabeth would come to stay during the winter, now houses the South Tyrol Museum of Tourism, a.k.a. Touriseum.