We farewelled beautiful (yet cloudy and wet) Switzerland and passed into Italy. The most obvious difference was as the driver announcements came on there was a lilting, musical announcement from the conductor/driver, who was also obviously a comedian because all the Italians in the compartment had a good laugh and were shaking their heads in amusement. None of that in the efficient Swiss trains!
Today was a 9 hour train journey to get from Wengen (Switzerland) to Bolzano (Italy), with about 6 train changes. I think it would be fascinating to construct a research study into comparing fitness levels and their pelvic floor dysfunction in women between the ages of 50-80 from Australia (who drive everywhere) and Swiss women, same age cohort (who commute via trains and end up walking huge distances at a very fast rate between platforms – because it’s mandatory due to the slick timing of interconnecting trains). As I said in my last blog I am really clocking up the steps and today it was up and down steps and ramps, carting luggage and hoping like crazy Mr Efficiency has got the right platform (so far spot on).
Thirty two years ago we travelled down from Cortina into Roma and felt like I had literally melted. We had been travelling around in a campervan for many weeks through freezing Great Britain (where the water had actually frozen in the pipes at one of the camping grounds); then across to equally freezing northern Europe and then through the Dolomites. Today I had the same experience. It was very cold and wet at Wengen so we rugged up accordingly and by the time we stepped out of the train it was 28 degrees. Bellisimo!
We chose Bolzano to train it to because it is the spot we pick up our car – the only driving we are doing this trip, because to see the true beauty of the Dolomites you do need a car (or a bike- I have heard of many who cycle around and through the Dolomites). As soon as we crossed the border the sun did start to shine so I am very hopeful for a warm, dry Italian experience.
Bolzano is a wonderful surprise. It has a vibrant town square where all the townsfolk of any age criss-cross on their bicycles, (helmetless and licra-less) as they get about their business. There are the mandatory geraniums and petunias adorning every building and the architecture is beautiful. There are food cafes and restaurants around the edge of the square, adding further life and colour and further in the town there were markets selling magnificent fruit and veggies. For a Monday night the whole town felt exciting and alive. I love Italy!
Markets at Bolzano
We stumbled across a funicular up to a town high above Bolzano- there are actually three villages up there and a railway that links them all – truly spectacular vistas.
Funicular up to a stunning view of the Dolomites
After all that walking, we felt we had earned dinner and ate at our own hotel’s cafe (Stadt Hotel Citta), which overlooks the town square. Yes that is a Pina Colada in the background of a very healthy dinner. Note to self – I mustn’t ever have one again because it was way too delicious.
Tomorrow…Val de Funes