Austrian Airlines, FRA-INN
We purchase bus tickets at the Tabac and catch a local bus from the Innsbruck airport to the train station, about a 20 minute ride. Our first stop is the speck shop in the station, to admire the display and to purchase speck sandwiches for lunch on the train. Speck is a cured meat dating from the 1200s and native to northern Italy and southern Austria. Meat from the rear leg of a pig is rubbed with salt and spices and cured for several weeks before being cold smoked for days, then air dried for months. It's wonderful!
Innsbruck itself looks truly appealing as we zip through on the bus and we again note that we should spend some time here someday. But, not today, we're heading to Italy.
Innsbruck train station speck shop
The wait on the train platform is scenic and we take in the mountains and scenery, including the Bergiselschanze ski jump used in the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics.
Surrounding mountains and ski jump
Bicycle parking at the train station
The scenery is beautiful as the train winds through the Alps, over the Brenner Pass, and enters Italy at Brenner, where we change engines and train crew.
Scenery along the train route, Innsbruck to Bolzano
We arrive in Bolzano in the late afternoon, check into Hotel Greif, just off the main square, Piazza Walther, and settle in at a small bar on the piazza for an aperitif before seeking dinner. It's getting a little chilly in the late summer weather and we hear that rain and snow are on the way so we're thinking of outside seating while we still can.
Piazza Walther in Bolzano
Just a few blocks from the piazza, restaurants are tucked in the buildings with plenty of sidewalk seating and we grab a table and share several bruschetta, a plate of speck and cheese, and fried eggplant (which turns out quite different from what we expect, but is really good). A great meal and a great introduction to the region.
Dinner sampler of delights
We wander a bit after dinner, sauntering through the evening streets of Bolzano on our way back to the hotel.
To our great delight, we hear sounds of music and enter one small piazza to find a band playing in the center, with everyone passing by stopping to listen and appreciate. This is clearly a German band, all brass, percussion, and winds. No strings. Really good. We stop for their last few numbers as we end our first day in this magical place with this special moment.
Band playing, everyone stopping
The band winds down just as it starts to rain and we stroll back through Piazza Walther, lit up for the evening.
Piazza Walther later in the evening
It's been a long day and we're a long way from San Francisco. We're loving every minute!