Monday, November 5, 2007

Bolzano = Bozen

We went to Bolzano for the weekend (anniversary time, 18 years). 

First things first, Bolzano was amazingly clean. Florence with all its abundant charms is not exactly the cleanest city. (Our teacher at school blames the tourists. I think it is partially the locals as well.) Anyway, Bolzano was clean (no trash, dog crap, and few to no Senegalese hawking sunglasses or Rolexes or Gucci – sorry but only so much of that I can take) and the city was quaint. The city is also very German as it was annexed in only 1919. You will hear more German than Italian. We were the only American tourists around for miles…. The Germans thought we were Italian and the Italians thought we were German. Stuck in the middle.

Bolzano is a city that brings to mind the word “utopia” – it was that picture perfect (for the two days we were there at least). I’m sure it has its warts but I could not get over the miles of bike paths and walking trails, cable cars to higher mountain towns, efficient roadways, direct train service, and stunning scenery to name a few things. Coming from a city like Seattle that prides itself on being bike friendly, I had to just laugh and cry at the same time walking around and riding around (on a hotel beater bike) – Seattle ain’t got it going one bit as far as I’m concerned. Of course the median income in Bolzano I’m guessing is pretty high and dictates that those amenities are put in place? There were paths that ringed the city (mostly flat) or paths along the mountain side that ringed the city or paths that climbed into the mountains. Well-maintained paths with water stops (Bolzano also has amazingly tasty water).

We arrived on Friday night and walked to the hotel – a bit far, but doable from the train station. Saturday we had a fabulous breakfast and took the funivia up to San Genesio. We hiked around for several hours in what we thought was jaw dropping beauty. Maybe we are easily amazed? The picture above is from that hike. There was great signage along the trails, so folks who come unprepared (like us) can get by without having bought the correct maps. (We also asked some German guys, in Italian, on the way up in the funivia what to do and they suggested the route.)

Sunday we just took it easy and chowed down again at breakfast and then hiked into town on one of the popular mountain trails that rings the town and killed time before our 1:31pm train.

The dark cloud in this story: the train back to Florence was packed. We could not get on the train we wanted and had to take another. Standing room only for 4 hours, as in many people standing, seriously overbooked. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds as we had a huge window to look out of. But, don’t get between an Italian and his or her seat reservation. Also, they’ll watch you pass out from fatigue before offering you a seat for a few minutes. Even some nuns had to sit on the floor between cars – they gave it up for a higher calling and they still didn’t catch a break. Tough crowd. Lesson here: book early. It was also a holiday weekend which wasn’t the best timing. Thursday and Friday (for many) were holidays and so many took long weekends.

We did not make it to the museum which houses Otzi which is also in Bolzano. Something to consider for next time.

Here are some relevant links:

The region:
The town:
San Genesio, a town we took cable car up to (about 3300 feet):
Hotel we stayed at:
Majestic trees above San Genesio:
About the wine and grapes grown around Bolzano:
Lunch spot on Saturday during our hike:

1 comment:

  1. i just viewed the photos! oh my gawd. magnificent. so beautiful. i wish i was there!


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