First Visit to Alto Adige (Sud Tirol)

It’s been far too long since my last blog post, but a lot has happened since then! I started university a couple of weeks ago, and already there’s a growing pile of books to be read and essays to write. Still, I think it’s a good time to remember what a fantastic summer I had!

The train journey from Munich to Brixen in Italy took about three hours. It was a beautiful and very interesting trip, but I’ll leave the details until I write about our more adventurous trip back to Munich at the end of the holiday!

Brixen itself is a lovely town. The Italian name is Bressanone, but it is mainly German speaking. On our first evening there, we watched groups of people wearing traditional German costume dancing to oompah music, against a background of Germanic architecture and clock towers- it’s actually very difficult to realise you’re in Italy! We ate pizza with a German beer near the Hofgarten – it was pretty bizarre.

We spent our second day in Bolzano/Bozen. In the morning, we went up in the cable car to see some earth pyramids, which are mounds of earth and mud with huge boulders embedded in the tops. I’ve truly never seen anything like it!

Back in the town, we went to see the Iceman, an exhibition of a Copper Age man who was found in the Otztal Alps, very close to the border between Austria and Italy. Although I disagree with having human remains on display at a museum, it was absolutely fascinating to see perfectly preserved examples of copper age clothing, weapons and tools.

On the 25 August, we visited Franzensfest, an Austrian fortress. When it was built in the 1880’s, it was the strongest of its kind in Europe, however it never experienced an actual battle, and became technically obsolete. It was used as a place for hiding Nazi gold in WWII, and is now just an empty shell, too far from anywhere to be of any real significance. It is built right over the river, and is a very dramatic spot – the odd modern artworks and the fact that we went on a rainy day made it feel particularly bleak and atmospheric!

We spent the afternoon in Italy’s most northerly town – although “Italy” and “Northern” should not be placed in the same sentence! It’s basically Austria. I heard very few people speaking Italian, all the shop signs were in German, there were restaurants selling wurst and kartoffelsalat and even the public transport ran on time. Actually, it was probably more Austrian than Austria.

Towards the middle of our holiday, we had a day in Bressanone, where we were staying. We went to the pharmacy museum, which is still a pharmacy, but the company just kept everything, right from when it first opened. It’s beautifully displayed, and there’s a lot of information about how mountain plants have always been used for medicine.

We also saw the rehearsals for the Miss Alto Adige contest. Quite entertaining to watch, as it was a searingly hot day and the contestants had to dance around in uncomfortable shoes until midnight. Actually, I just wanted to be able to say that I’d seen it!

Towards the end of our holiday, we did the classic Dolomites walk, to see the Tre Cime. I’ve never walked alongside so many other people in my life (we even saw some hiking nuns), but I can understand why it is so popular!
I had a really amazing time in Süd Tirol, and in my next post I’ll be writing about the rest of my holiday there!

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