Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bolzano Take Two

We tried to reach Bolzano in the fall of 2011, but an Italian train strike thwarted us. This time, the trains ran smoothly and on time.

Bolzano–Bozen is a bilingual town in the southern Tyrol, with German predominant over Italian. It is a nice size town of just over 100,000, and is the capitol of the region with lots of tourism, museums, and cultural activities, plus hiking access to the Dolomites. We wandered the streets and then sat in the main square, drinking the local concoctions of prosecco - "Venezia" is the orange one and "Hugo" has the lemon and mint.

Central square in Bolzano-Bozen

Drinking prosecco like a local
 The next morning, we went to the archeology museum featuring Ötzi, the 5,000-year old mummified man discovered melting out of the ice in the alps near here in 1991. While Austria and Italy both claimed him, he was found about 100 m on the Italian side of the border, so here he remains!

The museum had a fascinating exhibit covering his discovery, preservation, and analysis. They have done both mt DNA and y-chromosome DNA as well as blood typing, x-rays, cat scans, etc. You can read a good account of him in Wikipedia – very accurate from what we learned from the museum. The most fascinating aspect to me was seeing his clothing, tools, and weapons. He actually carried an axe with a copper head, which set the copper age back 1,000 years after his discovery. They had his leather belt with a pouch and all the things it held including a fungus with antibiotic properties. The displays were fantastic, and really did bring his world to life.

They even have Ötzi in a refrigerated room. They mist him so he has a glaze over him so he doesn't desiccate further. I took this picture out of the Wikipedia article and if you are squeamish you might want to squint! His arm remains across his chest in the position he was found in the alps.

Ötzi from Wikipedia
After the museum, we took a gondola up to a higher village, and then a small tourist train over to another village. From there we hiked to see the “earth pyramids”, well-exposed in an eroded gully. The glacial till, with its unsorted boulders imbedded in the matrix, erodes from the cliff. The large boulders protect the consolidated clayey till underneath them and form these strange pyramids, which we call hoodoos, some still with their giant boulders on top!

Setting of the hoodoos - earth pyramids

Notice the boulders still covering some of the hoodoos
We walked a little farther, admiring the picturesque views, and ended at a guest house that served drinks on their patio. We watched as the farmer picking up his bales of hay almost lost one when it started to roll. I can’t even imagine farming on these steep slopes!

Our friend Nancy recommended we try “bread soup” if we saw it on a menu, so we had salads, bread soup and pizza for dinner. The soup was thick and flavorful, perfect for sopping up with bread! Tomorrow we head to Trieste and we’ll see what new foods we find there!

May 18th
We caught an early train back to Verona, connecting to Trieste. The first train had wifi so we “facetimed” with Lindsey from the train. It was 11 pm in Flagstaff and 8 am in Italy, so the timing was good. It was so fun to visit, and a lot different than my first trip to Europe when I was 19 and called my parents just once in 5 months of travels!

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