Alan Heeks writes…
I’ve been keen to visit Bolzano for many years: perhaps because of Sudtirol’s cross-cultural history, perhaps because I have a friend whose German-speaking mother emigrated to England from here. Anyway, my first visit delighted me: Bolzano has charm, history, and lots more.
Bolzano’s location is magnificent: in a deep Alpine valley, with mountains all around on the skyline, and cable cars that start near the town centre. It’s one of the most bicycle-friendly places I’ve seen, with dedicated cycle trails, and most of the central area car-free.
There are many houses and civic buildings which date from the Austria-Hungarian Empire, and give the town an elegance and impressiveness which compare with more famous old Italian cities, but differ in style. Here, all the street names, shops and other signage are in both languages.
It was agreeably confusing to be in a different version of Italy, where everyone speaks Italian and German, though I heard more Italian spoken generally. I was unsure which language to use, but since my basic German is better than my improvised Italian, I ended up speaking German everywhere.
The cuisine, as you might guess, is very cross-cultural. Along with all the Italian usual suspects, there were Weinstube, and restaurants serving goulash, dumplings and sauerkraut. Both Austria and Italy have a strong coffee and pavement café culture, and with all the quaint pedestrian streets and squares, you can lounge with your kaffe to your heart’s content.