In the south west of Bolzano, above the little village of Frangarto in the municipality of Appiano, there is Castel Firmiano, sitting enthroned on the back of a mountain. This castle is one of the largest throughout South Tyrol and its original name “Formigar” dates from the Latin “formicaria”, which is one of the oldest castle names of South Tyrol. In fact, this name has been mentioned for the first time in 945 AD and later on changed into “Firmian”.
Since 1027 the building has been in possession of the Bishops of Trento, in 1473 it changed hands and was passed to Sigismund, Archduke of Austria and territorial lord of Tyrol. Only then the castle received the name “Castel Firmiano” or “Schloss Sigmungskron” in German. Not only the German name, but also the form of the castle complex reminds the owner (Sigismund and Krone, the German word for “crown”). Moreover this castle is a political symbol for many inhabitants of South Tyrol, as in 1957 the historical event “Los von Trient” was held in this place. This was a huge manifestation with participation of Silvius Magnago, calling for autonomy and protesting against the non compliance of the Treaty of Paris.
Since 1996 Castel Firmiano is in possession of the Province of Bolzano. In June 2006 the extreme alpinist Reinhold Messner inaugurated the Messner Mountain Museum MMM Firmian in the castle. The castle and the museum give an insight into the importance and significance of mountains for humans with the permanent exhibition “The enchanted mountain”. The so-called “White Tower”, however, is dedicated to the history of the castle and the struggle for the independence autonomy of South Tyrol.