Some basic background about the town. Before World War I Bolzano was part of the Austrian Hungarian Empire. After the war, (1929) it was annexed by Italy. At the time of the annexation, out of 29,000 people, only 1300 were Italian speaking. During WWII, Mussolini got the bright idea of creating an intensive "Italianization program". The purpose of the program was to outnumber the local German speaking population by trippling the Italian speaking population. Italians from other provinces were imported, and German speaking people were exported to the Third Reich under the Option Agreement of 1939-1940. As you can imagine, this created hard feelings that exist today.
After the end of that war, Bolzano became the capital of the South Tyrol province. This SudTirol province, known in Italian as Alto Addigio, has a great deal of independence and is admired for how it has integrated the three cultures of Austrian, German and Italian.
An owner of a wine shop told us that the three nationalities live in harmony and each bring specific gifts to the population. The Austrian element bring a love of flowers, and sense of beauty and order into their lives. The German element provides the drive, ambition and push to get things down. The Italian element brings the love of good wine, good food, and a culture that encourages the enjoyment of these things.
Our experience is that even though this is located in Italy, it is a very Germanic town. We missed our friend Luther, who is fluent in both German and wine! Because of the way we look, everyone thought we were German. They would address us in German, and when we answered in Italian, they switched to English rather than speaking Italian with us. It was very odd for us. The city and surroundings are absolutely beautiful, clean, prosperous. Below is a picture of one of the buildings in the old part of town.
We found a restaurtant that we really liked, what a surprise.
It is called Kaiserkron, and we highly recommend it.Kaiserkron Restaurant
The villa we stayed at "Villa Missian" Villa Missian is in the commune of Appiano on the Strada del Vino, or wine road. One of the towns we visited was St. Pauls. They had a charming cemetary that originated in the 1500's.
The thing that was remarkable about this cemetery were flowers that were placed on the graves. Each family plot had an individualized little garden that was beautifully maintained. We were later told that each family member was assigned one week during the summer months that they were to tend the grave and the flowers, making sure nothing was amiss!
It was fantastic to walk through and see the symetry of all of the gardens.
If you wanted to buy an electrice candle for your plot, those were for sale in a vending maching outside of the cemetery. So organised!
The house we stayed at was not in the middle of the cemetary, but rather in the middle of the vineyards. It had fantastic hiking trails behind it, and there were many happy hikers moving throught the fields.
The following are views from our bedroom.
The water up in the mountains is pure, and there is no need to buy bottled water. People still do so out of habit, probably, but it isn't necessary.
Hikers would stop by and drink directly from the fountain. This is something I have not seen in Italy, except in Rome!
Another characteristic of this region are the castels on the hilltops. They are very different architecturally from our Umbrian castles. They are more fortress like and severe. This is a picture of the castle behind our house.
I am standing in the back yard of the house, looking at the castle up above us. There is a trail that goes through the woods to reach it. The last day we went for it.
The path, like life, started out nice and easy.
It got steeper as we went on.
If you think it was tough to walk up, try biking up. These two made it to the top without stopping.
The views were great and worth the climb.
Inside the castle was a restaurant, of course. We skipped it and headed back down the path.
Later we ate at a fantastic restaurant called Schwarz Adler Schwarz Adler
The Stoic One had to have one of the special desserts. Good thing we made the climb in the morning.