Today I want to tell you about Bolzano, in northern Italy. If you are traveling by train up to Bolzano from Bologna or other points south, you will notice a distinct change in the terrain, the look of the villages along the way, as well as the language of the people who live in this area.
As the train travels further north, the terrain changes, becoming more rugged. Tiny villages are tucked into crevasses between giant mountains. Fields of hay are grown on the more flat areas, then there are apple orchards and vineyards. Some of the best white wine in Italy comes from this area.
This northern part of Italy once belonged to Austria. Most of the citizens here speak German, not Italian. The churches look more like the ones in Austria; in school, the children are taught in the German language. When there is a festival and the citizens dress for that, their costumes are Austrian in design; dirndls for the women, lederhosen for the men. The food, also, is different. The restaurants serve schnitzels, sausages, more potato dishes. While this food is delicious, it is not Italian food, as we know it.
A typical meal in Bolzano and the Dolomites: a ham hock, sauerkraut and a potato dumpling, with stone ground mustard to go with it. Beer is the preferred beverage, and in Bolzano, we found two very good breweries, both with restaurants.
From Bolzano, there is a cable car that takes passengers up to Oberbozen, as you saw in the earlier photo. That area is another very unique place to hike or ride mountain bikes. On one of my trips, some young men took their bikes on the cable car up to Oberbozen, then rode the trails down to Bolzano. There are trails for hiking or biking.
The earth pyramids. These are unusual rock formations, found in the Oberbozen area. The rocks are unique. I don’t know if there are any of these anywhere else but in this region. Notice the rocks sitting on top of some of the peaks.
Hiking down to see these was a challenge for me, but if I had taken hiking poles, the trek would have been much easier. Hiking up was even more of a challenge.
Bolzano is home of the South Tirol Museum of Archeology, where the main attraction is a preserved body of a man that was found in some glacier ice high up on a mountain near the Austrian-Italian border. After extensive research, it has been determined that the man is over 5,300 years old. The museum is well done, with exhibits on three levels.
Of course, Bolzano, to me, is the jumping-off point for a stay in the Dolomites. I usually stay two nights in Bolzano, for it is an interesting town to me. But from there, I take a bus for a one-hour, exciting trip through winding mountain roads to Castelrotto, in the Trentino-Alto Adige region. I will post just a few pictures here, for the Dolomites will be another blog post or two.
That is a rare sight. Usually, there are just other hikers or bikers.
So I will say “Goodbye” for now. I will write more about Italy next week.
You can be sure that sometime, before the first of June, I will write about the Dolomites, for there is my “Happy Place”.
Ciao for now,