We arrived in Bolzano by train midday and made the short walk to check-in at Hotel Feichter, a simple hotel recommended by trusty Rick Steves. Our host was German which was our first taste of the Germanic roots of the Tirol region. Our room was simple and clean on the third floor with a balcony looking out over the mountains. The view did our mountain-loving hearts good. Always good to see some snow capped mountains.
After getting a few restaurant recommendations from our host, we head out for lunch. We ended up grabbing pizza at a local restaurant. Our waitress unknowingly gave us the challenge of deciphering the regular menu which featured not one, but two languages we didn't fully understand. We declined her offer to fix the problem with an English menu, and instead tried to interpret what we could of the German and Italian descriptions. We ended up with two large pizzas covered in familiar ingredients and left very full! Wandering through the city we were immediately struck by its beauty. German influence was also clear in the buildings and the backdrop of the mountains made for a nice change from Tuscany. Bolzano is a quaint little village with buildings resembling most of the ski villages in Colorado. I think we found a bit of the inspiration for villages like Vail! We found narrow pedestrian streets, charming buildings, and mountains rising sharply in the background.
In our wandering, we completed the Rick Steves' walking tour to get sense of the region's history and a feel for the city. We also made a stop at the Christmas market, not our last stop, for some hot chocolate. Melted chocolate in a cup is pretty much perfection on a chilly afternoon/evening. We called it an early night and headed back to Hotel Feichter.
The following morning we made our way to the cable car up to the resort town of Oberbozen. Another quaint town made up mainly of resort chateaus. It was quiet and the view from the cable car was well worth the 12 minute ride. We then grabbed the next train up to Klobenstein. Our tiny, narrow gauge train was just the cutest mode of transportation and we loved weaving along the mountainside up to Klobenstein. The train took us through the countryside past gorgeous mountain homes and resorts. The mountains were a sight to see all their own. They rose up sharp and clear from the rolling hills in front of them. Reminiscent of the Rockies, but completely different at the same time.
While in Klobenstein we wandered a bit farther through the town to the earth pyramids, a 30 minute walk beyond town. These pyramids reminded me of Bryce Canyon and offered another unique view as they are located just in front of rolling hills, small villages, and the mountains. Amazing. We enjoyed the view and the stroll back through town. We made our way back down the train and the cable car into Bolzano for a late lunch and an evening stroll. More hot chocolate at the Christmas market and more mountain views.
We love Florence, but Bolzano was a nice change and well worth the visit. Bolzano's Christmas market took Florence's Santa Croce market to another level. Booths were more festively decorated with a larger collection of items for shoppers to explore. As well as the hot chocolate. Have I said this before? It is amazing. Melted chocolate with a dash of milk. The only time I have had anything like it was in my last mug of Swiss Miss. Oh wait, definitely not. Powdered chocolate mixed in hot water is clearly not the proper way! I did have a mug of hot chocolate at Angelina's in Paris 5 years ago with my friend Kari and it was pretty darn close to perfection. So throw in an adorable Christmas market and general cheer around the holidays and you have a winner. We grabbed a later train out of Bolzano and headed to Venice for another whirlwind stop on our little Christmas holiday. Venice coming soon! Until then, pictures below from Bolzano. Just remember, as is usually the case, no picture does this place justice.