There is something about a snowy day in New Jersey that gets me thinking about our Northern Italy trip, which is a good thing, because those days wandering among these “B” towns definitely belong with my on-line memories.
Our base for our last days was the Goldene Krone Vital Hotel in Brixen/Bressanone. Yes, the town has two names, an Italian one and a German one. Like a few other areas on our lovely planet, this ground had been fought over many times, with the conquerors imposing their language and customs on the conquered. For the current inhabitants of German/Austrian ancestry, the preferred name is Brixen. The Italians opt for Bressanone.
Regardless of what you call it, the town is absolutely charming. We were lucky enough to be there during some kind of street fair. There was music, food and of course, lots of beer.
This alpine town is famous for its very realistic wood carvings. Admit it, if you look quickly, doesn’t this man and his dog look real? I was almost fooled. (But then, that’s not all that difficult to do.
At night, the streets quieted down, but the shops and restaurants were still open and within walking distance of our hotel. We took advantage of a “dinner on our own” night to enjoy a fantastic wine cellar type meal with two of the new friends we made on this trip–Julie and Roger. My only regret is I didn’t write down the name of that fantastic restaurant!
Our first hike, oh so many days ago, was in the Swiss Alps. Now we were given the opportunity to experience the Dolomites. We could either ride a lift way up the mountain to a station hiding in the cleft between the two peaks on the right, or we could go for a hike –but we clearly wouldn’t get as far up. Mike rode; I hiked.
It was hard to believe that it had snowed two days before we arrived, unless you chose to walk–then you were slipping and sliding on a trail that was quite muddy. Any guesses as to who ended up with a muddy butt?
This was the first year the trip was offered by OAT, so the itinerary was still being modified, based on feedback from prior travelers. One wonderful addition was a visit to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, home of Otzi, the “ice man”.
Otzi was found by two German hikers in 1991. What the archaeologists have been able to learn from that discovery is truly amazing. From his remains, they were able to recreate a model showing what they believe Otzi looked like. His tools, weapons, clothes and even the contents of his stomach were incredibly well preserved–for about 4,000 YEARS! Yikes.
The exhibits are accompanied by interesting explanations of what you are viewing. I apologize for the crooked photos that follow. I didn’t want to be a jerk, blocking the exhibits while I attempted to grab a perfectly centered, nicely squared off photo, but I figure you’ll get the idea.
The researchers finally determined Otzi was murdered, and that he probably bled to death from the arrow wound in his shoulder. But Otzi didn’t give up without a fight. From DNA analysis, scientists determined that there were traces of blood from at least four other people on his knife, coat and an arrowhead. Can you tell I really loved that museum?
Fast forward several thousands years to Bassano del Grappa. Over all those centuries, man’s inhumanity to man hasn’t changed.
You can still see the bullet holes in some of the the buildings in Bassano del Grappa’s old town from WWII, when the Italian partisans battled the Nazis.
This plaque tells the story about what happened along the river in 1944.
The trees from which the young Italians were hanged have been turned into memorials.
We all know how devastating WWII was, but when you see the long row of trees, each festooned with photos, names, dates and flowers, you get a feel for the very personal pain felt by the families in this area.
The town of Bassano del Grappa is also noted for (guess what) grappa, and we got to sample some after lunch at the Nardini Distillery. I’ll be honest. I didn’t like it. I’m more of a Franciacorta girl.
Overall, this was a wonderful trip to a part of Italy that I knew very little about. Next trip– to a different continent!
13 thoughts on “The Four B’s: Brixen, Bressanone, Bolzano, Bassano del Grappa”
Great post. Northern Italy is a favorite of mine. Always helps to know a few German words.
Thanks Greg. I knew so little about the area before we went. It really is an undiscovered treasure.
Sent from my iPhone
Gorgeous photos. Never got up there. Lake Como was as far north as we ventured. A little town called Bellagio. Also quite beautiful.
Thanks George. I had no idea that part of Italy was so wonderful. I hope you make it there some day.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I went to see Otzi during a GCT trip 5 years ago…we stayed several days in Bolzano. Loved it. The Road Scholar trip I took last fall took me to several small Italian villages in that area too…the Northern Italy trip is definitely on my list.
Interesting that GCT had a trip in the area. People have suspected that the company is making more of the land trips OAT trips, having GCT focus on river and ocean cruises. If you do go on this trip, be sure to go to the roof of the Milan cathedral if you haven’t already been there
I think there are still lots of GCT land trips. I won’t go on any more…up way over 40 people and not enough activity. Have a great trip!
It’s not snowing here, but it is chilly… so nice to see pictures of sun-infused northern Italy on a day like today. What a charming town. I love the wood carving, were there quite a few here-and-there?
There were. All over the place. Our guide knew a wood carver so she took us to his studio in his home.
Very great post. I’m sending it to Tom.
Thanks, Doll…I’m working on another one..
A trip to Italy is always a good choice. Excellent excursion.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Shelly. I am finally catching up with your posts. I love this one and all the B towns. They are wonderful . Reading about them makes me want to return.