About 8:30 Monday morning (June 6) I said goodbye to the App State group and started my solo journey through Northern Italy. I splurged and took a taxi from our hotel to the Termini train station. I took the bullet train straight from Rome to Bolzano. The ride was a little over 4 hours long, and the views of the mountains getting into Bolzano were absolutely incredible.
Once I arrive in Bolzano, around 15:00 that day, I spent the afternoon unpacking and getting settled at the hostel.
That evening, I went to a restaurant that Rick Steves highly recommends -Hopfen & Co. It’s been a tavern in Bolzano since the 1600’s. Now, it is a microbrewery that serves traditional regional cuisine. I got bacon dumplings and beer and it was probably one of the best meals I’ve had in Italy.
Day 1 – June 7th: (first full day)
I spent the day sleeping, resting and just lazing about- recharging from my school trip. I also felt a little under the wether that day, so I just took it really easy and planned my week. I also did a full load of laundry for the first time…so that was a nice feeling.
Day 2- June 8th
Got an early start-ate breakfast and was out the door by 8:30. I spent the day hitting all the major sights in town.
My first stop was the Bolzano Cathedral. The original foundation of the cathedral dates back to the fourth century-it has been rebuilt several times throughout history. Most recently, in 1948 after it was severely damaged by an Allied bombing during WWII.
Next, I went to the Dominican Church. This church dates back to the thirteenth century and is most noted for its Chapel of St. John. To my (pleasant) surprise, this chapel was painted by the Giotto School. The most striking aspect of this room was the ceiling- it was a deep blue. Not only is it stunning itself, but it’s very similar to the ceiling of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, painted by Giotto himself. Padua is my next stop after Bolzano, specifically to see the Scrovegni Chapel. It was cool to get a little unexpected preview of what I’ll be seeing in Padua.
After sitting in the Giotto School room and listening to the organist play for while, I headed to Museion. Museion, meaning the temple of the muses in Greek, is Bolzano’s museum of modern and contemporary art. The main exhibition was the work of Korakrit Arunanondchai- a multimedia, multidisciplinary artist from Bangkok. His work dealt with issues like art history, history in general, spirituality, globalization, and the role of technology in our lives. It was seriously fascinating. As part of the exhibition, they were playing his film “Painting with History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names 3.” I wish I could find a way to get my hands on it, but for now, here’s the trailer.
After my time at Musieon, I ate a picnic lunch of a cream cheese and jam sandwich.
The last thing I did was go to the South Tyrol archaeology Museum. This museum most famously houses the body of Ötzi the Iceman. Ötzi’s frozen body was found in 1991 in the Austrian/Italian Alps. Originally thought to be the body of a lost hiker, it was later found that the remains were the 5,300 year old remains of a pre-Bronze Era man. His body, clothes and other possessions had been perfectly preserved by the cold. Ötzi is also famous for his numerous (over 50) tattoos that cover his body. This is one of the earliest examples of tattoos on remains. Some researchers believe that these tattoos marked acupuncture points.
You weren’t allowed to take pictures of Ötiz’s actual remains (there were security cameras and guards surrounding him to enforce this), but you could take pictures of the recreation and the images of his remains.
Day 3 – June 9th
It was a stormy day in Bolzano; a perfect day for museuming. First I went to the Museum of Nature of South Tyrol. There was a lot of information (in Italian and German) about the region and its ecological makeup.
Next, I went to the Museo Civico of Bolzano. This museum features art exclusively created by artists from Bolzano. It also had a cool tower you could climb to see a 360 degree view of the city.
Day 4 – June 10th
I spent the day just wandering around town.
I ate dinner at a brewery/restaurant called Batzenhäusl. It’s a part of Bolzano’s oldest inn. They specialize in South Tirolean cuisine and make everything they serve in house- including their beer.
Day 5 – June 11th
It stormed all day, so I spent most of the day inside resting and planning.
Day 6 – June 12th
First, I took the cable car from Bolzano to Oberbozen, a 20 min ride. I spent the whole day hiking in and around Oberbozen. The highlight of day was seeing the 25,000 year old earth pyramids. These earth pyramids are a crazy natural phenomenon- they have just gradually formed over time from clay being deposited in different ways. In total, I think I hiked about 8.5 miles that day. It was such a lovely day.
Day 7 – June 13
Around mid-afternoon, I took the cable car back up to Oberbozen, then took a small train from Oberbozen to Klobenstein. Almost the minute I got off the train, it started down pouring. I hiked for a couple of hours before heading home. Because it was raining, I only have pictures from my phone from this day. I did get to see a rainbow on the train ride home!
Tuesday, June 14, I packed up and left Bolzano to head to Padua. I took a local train from Bolzano to Verona and then the bullet train from Verona to Padua. I’ll be in Padua for a couple of days.