Wednesday, 10 August 2016

28th July - Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy

The dark clouds of the night before had cleared overnight and we were greeted with some clearer views across the mountains from the room window.


We had choices today, both included travelling to Bolzano by cable car, one was a leisurely day exploring the city, while the other was a walk away from Bolzano.  We decided that after the long walk yesterday it was time to give the legs and muscles a chance to re-cooperate so we decided on the city tour.

 After a leisurely breakfast we set off to explore the city of Bolzano. The quickest way to get there was by cable car.  This was built in 1908 by a local hotelier Josef Staffler, and was the first ever suspension cable car to have been built, and was seen as a way of encouraging tourism to the area, and allowing people to move into the mountains from the hot humid air of Bolzano.  The journey to the bottom takes a little under ten minutes, and once out of the car we walked under the auto strata, and then along side the River Eisack for just over a kilometre and then inland to the main square Piazza Walther, or if you also want the name in German, as is the case here, Walther Platz

Here we sat and had a coffee looking out at the cathedral, again resplendent with a mosaic of green and blue tiles on the roof.  The cathedral dominates the square, being converted from a church in the 14th century. 



We sat here trying to get our bearings before setting off to find our main destination, the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, and the Otzi Exhibition.  However the maps were not too good (of course it was not the map reader!), and we ended up passing the Museion, a museum of Contemporary Arts, and a building designed to reflect its purpose.



After one or two more detours we finally found the museum, and a short queue to enter the exhibition.

Otzi is the famous Iceman found in the Tyrolean Alps above Bolzano in September 1991 by two hikers.  The full story is amazing and rather than go into detail here, it would be better to see almost the real thing on the Museum's web site here.  Originally it was thought the the body was that of an unfortunate hiker who had fallen to its death, but over a period of a few weeks as the investigation took on more detail it became clear that the body was very old, possibly over 3000 years.  Finally it was determined that it was over 5000 years old, and from the Copper Age.

In the museum the actual mummy can be seen hushed in highly technical advanced refridgerator that mimics the conditions inside the glacier where the body was found.  As you look in on this body you are overtaken by the circumstances, who was this man, what must it have been like then, does his spirit yearn for a permanent resting place.  I found myself think about this for a long time after the visit.  You couldn't obviously take pictures in the museum so I took this clip from the internet


Image result for otzi the iceman

With the body were found his Otzi's belongings, his clothes and possessions including a copper axe, and longbow.  The museum has displays showing all thse articles

It is thought that Otzi was a trader or merchant, and at first both Austria and Italy laid claim to the body, but it was later found to be deemed Italian from elements traced through his bones and the mummy is now housed in Bolzano.  At first the final death was puzzling, did he fall or freeze to death?  After some intense forensic investigation it was found that he was killed by an arrow that went through his back.

As you leave the exhibition you get to see an artists impression of what Otzi could have looked like.  At just under 160 cms tall, with a shoe size of 38 he is much smaller than what we would expect to see today.



A wonderful and thoroughly interesting exhibition which was well worth the visit.  When we came out we were glad the search for the museum had not taken too long as the queue was now very long.

From the museum we wandered the streets of Bolzano.  This is the main town of the South Tyrol, and grew up on the confluence of two rivers, the Talver and the Eisack in a broad glacial valley basin, which is packed with vineyards and apple orchards outside of the city

The area we walked around was the medieval town, which had a mixture of many different architectural types.  from exotic roof turrets.



Austrian - German influenced houses.



To Italian styled narrow streets.



And alleys.


Bolzano has changed hands many times in its history, with the Counts of Tirol, the Bishops of Trento in the Middle Ages.  Bavaria held power here in the 19th Century, followed by Austria, but was given back to Italy after the First World War.

As we walked around you could sense a real blend of cultures, German speaking.  


But with a sense of Italian style.


We wandered the streets of what was quite a large shopping and retail area, with high street shops hidden well behind the traditional buildings.  As you turned the corner you would be greeted with a complete change in style, but with a familiar presence.



Windows with shutters and random plant pots.



Quirky shops amongst colourful buildings


And more grand buildings with completely outrageous roofs and more mosaic tiles.



Here a very Austrian look to the windows on this building.



We made our way back to the main square for lunch where we found a table just out of the warm sunshine, and spent some time just people watching.  It was strange to hear so much of the German language, but the owners and people around you looking so Italian.



It was warming up now, and quite a lot more humid.  After lunch we decided to make our way back to the Cable Car and to return to the hotel, where hopefully we could spend the remainder of the afternoon by the pool.

As we walked up from the cable car we had a good view of the hotel with our room being at the top on the left had side, overlooking the valley.



It was a lovely afternoon that little bit higher up, and we did spend the time by the pool. Before dinner all was calm, the late evening sunshine bathing the valley below.  



The room had two views, this one overlooking the chapel and out towards the Sciliar Mountain.



We came down before dinner hoping to sit on the terrace with a drink, but dinner was to be taken on the terrace, and once again we were demoted to the tables at the back that had little view, you could though get up and find a view.



We did though have the last laugh because those with the prime views that were late in arriving to their tables were unfortunate to be soaked by a sharp shower that came in over the mountains, and forced those  still eating inside.



Today had been a completely different day, but quite enjoyable.  Our bodies appreciated the rest, and it was wonderful to get the chance to visit the museum, and an excellent exhibition.  Tomorrow we move on once again, this time to a slightly larger town, Kastelruth.


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