I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Entries in Italy (9)


Homeward bound


I suppose, theoretically speaking, we've been homeward bound since Dresden, but today, setting out from Bolzano, we really felt that we're on the last stretch of our amazing trip.  Taking the scenic route over the mountains via the Mendelpass, at times the satnav screen looked like someone threw a ball of wool and let it fall into the pattern of the roads.  Needless to say, this was not the quickest of routes!



Gently, the vineyards and apple orchards became pine forests and villages perched on ledges rather than nestled in the valley



though from time to time, a collection of houses appeared to have spilled out of the end of a valley and a tumble of buildings nestled around a church for comfort.



Still higher, through the Passo Tornale, we drove through ski resorts and holiday villages, some with really unattractive tower blocks amongst the traditional chalets.  But the view of the mountains was unsurpassed.



Eventually we reached Lake Como and spent a few minutes recalling happy days spent here with Mummy before continuing over the last pass of the day into Switzerland.



At times, it was a little tight and tempers became frayed.  But being behind a local bus meant that we could squeeze through after he'd trailblazed the way forward. 



At last, the peace of Lake Lugano and our destination of Ponte Tresa, where we planned an evening with our dear friends Tonie and Pietro.  After a couple of weeks of eating out, what luxury to enjoy good home cooking with produce from the garden and wine from 200m along the way.  Not only that, but what fun to sit and chat on a warm evening in the garden as the sun goes down and for sure, Edna and Gordon were there in spirit too, surprisingly indulgent of their grandson enjoying a cigar with Pietro having persuaded him he needs an iPhone in a conversation before dinner.  Sitting around a table and finding answers for the problems of today is so much easier over a glass of wine or two: What to do about Afghanistan, democracy, the EU, the annoying fly, the slow driver of the car in front on an Alpine pass....the conversation never waned until it was time to say goodbye until the next time. 






Strada del vino

We set off on the Weinstrasse this morning but very soon found ourselves on the Strada del Vino as we went further into Trentino.



This is a fascinating part of the world, a real blend of languages, heritage and culture - somewhat confusing but also rather comforting: man spricht Deutsch but viva Italiano!




In Bolzano, we feel the Sudtirol outdoes the Alto Adige, but in Trento there's no mistaking, one is in Italy.



There's a wonderful cathedral - sorry, Duomo



with some formidable angels



and where they seem to be able to tie knots in stone.



My attention was caught by a window display for this newsagent, who had the largest selection of needlework magazines I've seen anywhere.  The photograph shows almost all of them.  Clearly, Giuliana Buonpadre has a strong following here - I've never seen so many books on Reticello, and this in a small town newsagent as well!

(stitchy friends might like to click on the photograph to enlarge it - see how many titles you recognise)



Driving back through the vineyards, I thought that geographers would appreciate this glacial valley - hard to imagine how it could be any more U shaped than this.



Yes, of course, we stopped and tasted - and bought - bringing a little bit of this glorious part of the world back home with us soon.



After the rain, a little sunshine


We were woken at 6am this morning by thunder - it didn't bode well for the day ahead.  But, undaunted by a bit of rain we set off after breakfast in the direction of Meran/o, where we'd read there were medieval arcaded streets to explore. Perfect for a rainy day, we thought.




Of course, everyone else had the same idea.  Not really feeling amenable to a s-l-o-w mooch along a crowded street with crying children and yapping dogs, we focused our minds beyond the souvenir shops



The bread here is excellent!



The speck is vacuum packed and we felt sure we could find room for it in the hotel minibar with the Mozartkugeln, if we took out a couple of things.



Then, since we can't focus solely on food, I left the men outside and browsed the trachten store where there was beautiful fabric to be found (for dirndls etc) - these two were in the window and cute as they are, I really admired the cushion they're sitting on.  Not really in keeping with our style at home, though, so not too hard to resist.



We'd had enough of Meran/o by then, but as we made our way back to the car, we spotted something to dance about - blue sky!



We decided to drive up to the village of Tirol high above all of those people and whilst we didn't quite have the place to ourselves, a short walk was rewarded with a quiet place to sit and enjoy a beer in the warm sunshine.  This is a great place!




Being the driver, Mark couldn't enjoy the Kapuzinerweisse that Edward and I did, but he was equally impressed by a glass of a more local brew - apple juice.  We'd driven for miles through huge apple orchards this morning and sitting there enjoying the view, we spotted them for miles in every direction.




The apples here seem to be grown like vines, with fruit low down on the tree and with fewer leaves.  We set off to walk downhill along the Falkenerweg through these fields of apples and some vines.






Alto Adige


I didn't think I'd have a great deal to blog about today.  We've moved south, into Südtirol and had hoped to drive over the Grossglockner road but a pretty dire weather forecast sent us a less adventurous route over the Brenner  pass instead.



Thankfully, the weather was none too bad and actually cheered up a little as the sun came out later in the morning.  A brief stop for a walk around Innsbruck and we were all feeling more optimistic as the rolling green fields of the Austrian Tyrol gently changed into rocky outcrops and steep vineyards as we crossed the border into Italy.


We checked into our hotel in Bolzano - another beauty in a charming city - and decided to take a short walk around to get our bearings.  Late Sunday afternoon, there were a few families enjoying the sunshine and we too, enjoyed a stroll through the old town.

Then a sign reminded us of one of the reasons why we chose to stay here



Ötzi’s here.


Rather than wait until Tuesday (once again, Monday's closing day for the museum) we decided to go and see him there and then.  We joined quite a long queue and feared a scrum inside.

Not so.  This is a really well thought out museum which caters well for everyone.  We found the background story to Ötzi fascinating and the detective story which has arisen from the findings is remarkable.  Other exhibits in the special "Mummy" exhibition were interesting but not quite so arresting as the one we (and everyone else) had really come to see.


So, Ötzi is the highlight of the day - though we haven't had dinner yet and now we're in Italy...



A lovely day with friends

We woke to a brighter, more settled day, thank goodness and were surprised to see fresh snow on the mountains opposite. But the 11.50 hydrofoil was bringing more sunshine for us, in the form of dear Swiss friends Tonie, Peter and Kathy.

We settled down for an aperitivo in the bar opposite the boat-station, whilst Peter ran round the town to do a recce for a lunch venue. He was soon back and we followed him to a small restaurant in a quiet corner we'd not found before. All home-cooking, served by "Mama", which was good. Sadly, too cold to sit outside, so after lunch we did a spot of window-shopping and finally settled ourselves back in the bar where we had started, for afternoon tea.

All too soon, it was time to say bye and we waved them off onto the hydrofoil again for their journey home. Hope to see you all again soon!