Province in northern Italy, formerly the South Tirol, and named from its capital, which to the German inhabitants, a majority in the province, is BOZEN (old alternative, Botzen). The city stands on the River Isaro, a little above its confluence with the Adige. The province includes the valleys of the upper Adige and the Isaro, and the Italian sector of the Pustertal.
The town of Bozen had its own Counts, subject to the Duke of Bavaria, until 1027, when the Emperor Conrad II gave it to the Bishop of Trent, at the same time as he gave control of the upper Isaro to the Bishop of Brixen. Conrad preferred the principal route linking Germany and Italy to be in the hands of clerics. The Bishop of Trent appointed his own Counts, who later came more and more under the influence of the Counts of Tirol, Habsburgs from 1363, until in 1462 the Bishop of Trent gave up his rights. Tirol became Bavarian in 1805, and the southernmost part of it, including Bolzano, was transferred to Napoleon’s Italian Kingdom in 1810, returning to Austria in 1814.
The South Tirol became Italian along with the Trentino further south in 1919, and was part of the Third Reich as the Alpenvorland, 1943-5, though without being formally annexed. In the new republican Italy of 1946, promises were made for autonomy and the promises were fulfilled by creating the autonomous Region of Trentino-Alto Adige, consisting of the provinces of Bolzano and Trento. The region as a whole had an Italian majority however, and so German dissatisfaction continued. During the 1970s, when the regional structure provided for in the post-war settlement began to be put into effect in most of the country, the provinces of Bolzano and Trento became autonomous provinces within the autonomous Region, and so the German population began to have the self-government promised in the mid-1940s.
In 1992 the autonomy of the province was further strengthened, with measures passed by the Italian and Austrian parliaments, and the Trentino-Alto Adige and Bolzano assemblies. Thus Bolzano, though in form part of a larger region, is in practice more like the Valle d’Aosta, a province that is also a region.