Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Bolzano, Italy

Bolzano (Bozen in German) 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 remarked, "I speak a little English, ok Italian, but best in German."

Bolzano is also in the middle of the Dolomites, part of the Southern Limestone Alps, located in northeastern Italy, near Austria, shared between the Italian provinces of  Belluno, Vicenza, Verona, Trentino, South Tyrol, Uding, and Pordenone.

We start our morning in Bolzano with a ride up to Castel Roncolo (Scholoss Runkelstein), a medieval castle just outside the city.  Castel Roncolo was built in the late 1200s and passed through many hands, including several Archdukes of Austria, Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I, various Prince-Bishops, the Count of Lichtenstein-Kastelkorn, and Emperor Franz Joseph.

The Castel was restored and donated to the city of Bolzano in 1893 and is now a museum showing works of the period and beautiful frescos painted in its rooms.

 Path up to Castel Roncolo

 View from above (we can't see this)

The interior of the castel is a maze with lots of small rooms and chambers on multiple levels and we wind our way up and down the stairs and hallways.

Wandering through

The restored frescos in many of the rooms are beautiful and a big feature of the museum.  This is one of the largest collections of frescos dating back to Medieval times, with stories of knights, court ladies, farm life, scenes from literature, and hunting panoramas.  Quite a collection.

 Frescos in the rooms

The views from the castle are great and we admire them as we head out and decide to walk back to town along the Talvera (Talfer) River.

 Views from Castel Roncolo

 Pathway along the river back to town

As we approach the center of Bolzano, we find the Saturday market in Piazza Vittoria going strong and we walk in to see what is there.  We quickly pass by the clothing, housewares, and kitchen equipment, looking for the regional specialties, and find the local produce, fish, cheese, and meat stands.

 Local food!

From the market, it's only a short walk through Bolzano back to Piazza Walther and our hotel.  It seems that everyone is out enjoying the beautiful day.

 Streets of Bolzano

One thing we are truly learning to appreciate in Bolzano is speck,  We are introduced to speck at a huge speck-only shop at the Innsbruck (Austria) train station, where we catch a train to Bolzano.  Then we find it in all the markets and the dishes of the restaurants

Speck available

Speck is a type of cured, lightly smoked ham made in South Tyrol, the region of the Dolomites (and Bolzano).  Speck is a close cousin to prosciutto crudo, but with its own personality.

Our first night, we share bruschetta, speck, and fried eggplant, participating in a great Bolzano tradition of speck with every meal. One lunch, we focus on the speck, sharing a speck platter. Everyone here has their own version of speck and they are all great! We can't get enough speck and look for it (and find it) when we get home.

 Speck platters

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