Goodbye lovely Verona. I think I’ll return with Fumie after retirement, in my years of wealth and ease. Get a room overlooking the square, dine along the Adige, take in an Opera at the Roman Arena, etc.
Our train followed the Adige north to Bolzano, or Bozen if you prefer the German.
Bolzano wasn’t quite the mountain town I’d envisioned. This is the town Rheinhold Messner, great South Tyrolean climber, and first to ascend all fourteen eight-thousanders, calls home, but it’s still way down in the valley where the Isarco meets the Adige. It was quite hot without a breath of wind this day, and didn’t feel much like being in the Alps, and the mountains that surrounded the town were lush green with thick forest and underbrush. I found out at the tourist office that to get the Alpine feel you had to hop on one of the gondolas that took you to the mountain villages. She showed me the map of all these high elevation towns, well-connected by a train/tram/gondola network, and said that’s where you should stay if you want the Alpine experience. Alas, we had to be in Alpbach, Austria the next evening so we had to pass on the mountain experience in South Tyrol.
Bolzano is the capital of South Tyrol province, a land that used to be part of Austria, but was ceded to Italy after the Austrians lost in WW1. South Tyrol was promised to Italy as booty, an incentive to enter the war. Under fascism, Mussolini attempted to Italianize the region by banning German from publications and in school. In 1928 the Italians tore down an old Austrian war monument and put up the Bolzano Victory Monument. On the façade, the latin script reads, HERE AT THE BORDER OF THE FATHERLAND SET DOWN THE BANNER. FROM THIS POINT ON WE EDUCATED THE OTHERS WITH LANGUAGE, LAW AND CULTURE. He he, not provocative at all!
Hitler and il Duce had a plan to relocate the German speaking population to parts of Austria and Germany but that plan was put on the backburner when WW2 began.
Since WW2 there has been a considerable degree of ethnic tension and a number of secessionist movements.
When we got off the train, I expected to see swarthy Italians and blonde Germanics going at it- arguments, fisticuffs and the like. However, the scene in the park across from the station was, except for a little garbage and bare spots on the well-tread grass, downright idyllic. There was almost no ethnic tension whatsoever as the Somalis, Pakistanis, and Uzbekistanis got along swell.
We took a walk around town. By the looks of things, I wasn’t going to find any lodgings in the DW Shumway price range. Bolzano is often ranked at the top of the “Most liveable cities in Italy” list, and SouthTyrol is one of the wealthiest parts of Italy, and the entire EU, according to sources.
We found a cafe selling grilled sandwiches. I tried unsuccesfully to get a cheap place to sleep, gave up and we were soon on our way to Innsbruck.