Bumming around Bolzano…
Back in 2009, I spent about a week taking bus tours with Alpine Adventures, which provided services to guests at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. For those who don’t know, Edelweiss is a special hotel that is only for people affiliated with the U.S. government or military. It’s a very nice and large facility located on the small military installation in Garmisch. We haven’t been back to Edelweiss since 2009, but I understand it’s serving even fewer people nowadays, thanks to German tax laws.
When Bill and I were in Germany with the Army, he was working for EUCOM and they frequently had conferences at the Edelweiss resort. I would tag along with him and go on tours with Alpine Adventures. Most of our trips were in the winter, which to be honest, was a much better time to go to Edelweiss because they were a lot fewer people there. But in June 2009, after our very first cruise (Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas– Oslo to Stockholm), Bill and I had to rush back to Germany so he could attend a weeklong conference at Edelweiss. I spent that week taking tours that took me to Innsbruck, Munich, Berchtesgaden, and Italy– namely Vipitano and Bolzano (otherwise known as Bozen). We went to Bolzano to see Ötzi, the Iceman, and to mill around the city for the day. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in Bolzano. I remember eating lunch there and then getting back on the bus to go back to Germany, with a stop at a famous church to look at a ceiling painting.
I remember that week as interesting, yet frustrating. We had a very annoying tour guide who looked like an ancient version of Pippi Longstocking and, thanks to a chain smoking habit, had a voice like steel wool. She was obsessed with Stadls… (hay barns). Since she led most of the tours I took that week, I had to listen to her drone about the Stadls and Mad King Ludwig all week as I was forced to sit next to strangers on the packed buses.
Anyway, I had liked Bolzano, and wanted to visit again with Bill. But every time I tried to plan a trip there, something came up that made it impossible. That was why I had focused on Bolzano this time. By the way, it looks like Alpine Adventures has quit doing the Italy tours. I’m sure a lot of the tours they offered in 2009 are now defunct, thanks to COVID-19 and the need to socially distance.
On Thursday of last week, we decided to visit Bolzano, a city that is as Austrian/German as it is Italian, although I noticed more people speaking Italian when we were there. As we were driving into the city, the amber check engine light came on in the Volvo. Bill, who is not the handiest guy when it comes to cars, started to freak out a little. The Volvo is a 2020 model and should not be having engine problems of any kind. But after about twenty minutes of fretting, he figured out that whatever the problem was/is (the light comes on and goes off at random) is something that needs to be checked, but isn’t urgent. We spent the day walking around the city, which was even more charming than I remembered it.
My Italian friend, Vittorio, was born and raised in Italy. He later became a U.S. citizen, but left the United States because he was disgusted by it. He now lives in Germany with his second wife, a German. Vittorio has told me more than once that Bolzano is the one city in Italy that “works” and that he would live there, but nowhere else in Italy. But he’s still very much a proud Italian and though he is also a naturalized American, he does not identify as Italian-American. I don’t get to “talk” to Vittorio much these days. He got disgusted with Facebook, too, and dropped off of social media (and frankly, I admire him for that). But maybe he’ll drop by my blog and leave a comment about Bolzano. I was glad Bill finally got to see it for himself.
At about 11:30am, I started thinking we should look for lunch. I wasn’t actually that hungry, but I knew the restaurants would quickly fill up, and I hate it when I’m hangry. So does Bill, although he didn’t really want to eat so early. I talked him into sitting down, and that was a good plan… We had lunch at Trattoria Filo d’Olio, a tiny place in an alley. I liked that their outdoor tables were in a shady place.
We kept walking down the street and I suddenly saw the museum where Ötzi, the Iceman was displayed. There was a line to see him that stretched all the way around the corner. I saw the Iceman in 2009 and though it was fascinating to see his bones, that’s really all there is left of him– bones. I only need to see it once in a lifetime. Bill wasn’t interested in standing in line, either, so we kept walking and soon came upon an art exhibit. Bill loves looking at art, so we went inside. Donning our masks felt a bit stifling, as we spoke to the young artist who told us he’d rented the building for a week to show off his paintings.
As the day wore on, it got hotter, so we decided to head back to the hotel. On the way there, we stopped into 1000 e un Vino, an enoteca near the parking garage. We wanted to get some local wines to bring back to Germany with us. A lady helped us select some local varieties and even told us to take off the masks so we could understand each other better. As we were paying for the wine, she told us that since we’re in Germany, we can order from her store’s Web site and she’ll ship wine to us.
Before we went back to the hotel for our last night in Parcines, we stopped at a wood carver’s studio. I bought us a few treasures, since I’ve been missing doing that lately. I had a few wood carvings from prior trips to the Tyrol region, including my “drunk monk”, which I’ll share a picture of in a later post…
Since Thursday night’s dinner was particularly rantworthy, I will write about that in the next post.