Bolzano is the capital of the South Tyrol province in Italy, but many residents are more comfortable speaking German than Italian. Bolzano was part of Austria until 1919 and most signs, maps, and names are in both Italian and German. As one resident told me, "I speak a little English, ok Italian, but best in German."
It's threatening to rain today as we head over to the central Bolzano bus station.
Piazza Walther on a weekend morning, rain on the way
We purchase tickets at the bus station and hop on the next express bus to Caldaro that gives us a tour of Bolzano on the way out and soon winds through the mountains and vineyards surrounding the city.
Vineyards on the routs to Caldaro
As we arrive in Caldaro, we see a map of the city and wander in to the main square. When we spot the tourist office, we ask for direction to Lake Caldaro and start our hour-long hike through the vineyards to the lake resorts.
Map at the entrance to old town Caldaro (Kaltern)
Caldaro main square
The path to the lake winds down narrow lanes, through vineyards and apple orchards, and, occasionally, on the main road.
Starting down the path
Approaching Lake Caldaro
Quiet at Lake Caldaro
As we start the walk back up to town, it starts to rain heavily. We hide under an apple tree for a while (note: young apple trees do not actually provide much shelter from heavy rain), but eventually just head out and walk in the rain.
Shelter from the rain
We meet several wet people hiking down from town and, as we approach town, an express delivery truck stops and offers us a ride. We're wet already and decline, finishing the walk in lighter rain as the mountain storm moves on. The mountains are radiant and beautiful in the storm and sun that peers through.
Walking back to town in the rain
As we trek into town, we're wet, but it's time for lunch and that should warm us up. Especially with some local wine. We stop at a restaurant in the square and share a bruschetta with tomatoes and mozzarella, a plate of speck and a bottle of local wine.
Bruschetta, speck, and wine
Wine tasting here!
Our ride back to Bolzano
More great scenery on the trip back
The bus returns us to the Bolzano central bus station and we walk back into the old town, watching the markets wind down in the rain.
We're back, it's still raining
Markets coming to the end of the day
We stop for an aperitif, then wander a bit until we choose a pizza restaurant for dinner and settle in with a carafe of wine and pizza (no pictures, we must be really hungry!).
Aperitif with view outside (still raining)
Rally cars fill Piazza Walther
It's been a great first full day in Italy and we wind it up and go to sleep to see what tomorrow will bring.