Bolzano is one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Italy as well as being the gateway to the magical world of the Unesco Dolomites and perfectly portrays the fusion between Mediterranean and Central European culture and traditions.
The Ice Man
One of Bolzano’s most famous attractions is a 5300 year old man. He was found in 1991 by pure chance in the mountains between Italy and Austria. He now abides in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology where all the information gathered during the years after his discovery are clearly portrayed. The museum is a tribute to Otzi, the Iceman, the oldest natural mummy in Europe, and all that his recovery has been able to clarify into the conditions and environment of his time. The mummy itself is stored in a cold cell and can be seen through a small window, while all his belongings have been carefully restored to portray the skills of that period.
Via dei Portici
The street of arcades is the oldest street in town and the main shopping hub. The arcades were built to shelter merchants and their wares from snow and sun and are still a great refuge on a rainy day. Both sides of the street are lined with stores of all genres with narrow alleys leading off to the connecting streets. Although not completely traffic free as bicycles are allowed, one should take a risk and walk in the middle of the road gazing upwards at the artistic and colorful facades. You can start walking along this street form the municipality square with it’s ancient buildings all the way to Piazza delle Erbe with it’s lively fresh produce market.
The old Fish Market with it’s original marble display tables and the fountain once used to wash the fish, has been turned into a quirky and unusual bar. Open only in the warmer months as all seating is located along a quiet and traditional cobblestoned alley. Mostly frequented by locals for an apperitivo it is also perfect for a light meal with a large selection of bruschetta and salads on offer. Cobo and his staff are friendly and welcoming and offer a colorful and eccentric atmosphere. A great place to relax and do some people-watching.
This rather plain church is located close to the main cathedral and with it’s beautiful cloister and annexed building is what remains of the original Gothic monastery built in the 13th century. The church hides a true gem in one of it’s hidden chapels, the Chapel of St.John, a frescoed treasure. Quite a surprise after the rather plain exterior and interior of the main church, this chapel is covered with important and ornate frescoes of the famous school of Giotto.
The Renon Plateau above Bolzano is where the aristocracy of the city would climb to escape the summer heat. Today the plateau is accessible via a large cable car from the center of Bolzano offering magnificent views over the city and it’s surroundings. The area is made up of 17 villages, scattered amidst vineyards and high alpine pastures. Some of these villages are connected via a traditional railway which winds itself through woods and meadows, allowing passengers to get on and off at every stop to enjoy some of the many scenic hikes along the way. The climate here is mild all year round and the views are unbeatable.
The imposing Dolomites can be seen from the center of Bolzano and can be easily reached via train or car. They are a rather unknown but wonderful area of Italy not to be missed.
Anna Moggia is Owner of Boutique Hotel Zenana. Boutique Hotel Zenana is a charming, family-run B&B in the mountain town of San Candido/Innichen in the UNESCO Dolomites.
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