If you’ve been following along with me for a while now, you might remember my feelings about Naples. I wasn’t a big fan. But the apartment we stayed in was really nice and made the stay better.
In Bolzano, things were completely flip-flopped. I loved the town and surrounding area, but the apartment left a few things to be desired.
Hot water, to name one.
On the second day of our five-day stay, the hot water went out. Our hosts came the next day to look into it, but they couldn’t solve the problem. So we had to wait another day for the plumber to arrive.
The morning the plumber arrived, we were heading out for a day trip to see the Dolomites and surrounding countryside. We expected hot water when we returned. But did we get it?
They’d spent all day tracking down a part — only to finally install it and realize…
…it wasn’t the part that was broken.
By this time, it was Friday evening. Not much is open over the weekend in Italy, especially not for household maintenance — as we found out from Antonio during our very first stay.
We were only in Bolzano until Monday, so we were suddenly faced with the fact that we were NOT getting hot water in this apartment.
We probably would have thrown a great big conniption fit, but they offered us a large refund before we even had to ask so that helped ease the pain. I’d still rather have had hot water.
Things We Loved About Bolzano, Italy
Freezing cold showers aside, Bolzano is an amazing town. It borders Austria and was under Austrian control until World War I, when Italy claimed the city. Now the town has two names — Bolzano and Bozen — as do many towns in the area. The architecture felt completely different than it did in the other cities we’d visited throughout Italy.
An incredible thing about traveling like this is hearing so many different languages. At the beginning of the trip, while we were in the south of Italy, we heard mostly Italian. As we traveled further north, we heard a mix of many different languages and English was everywhere. But in Bolzano, everything was in Italian and German — but no English. (A lot of people speak English, but signs, menus, and most everything else was in Italian or German.)
Even so, Bolzano felt like the most liveable city we visited so far. It had a down-to-earth vibe, lots of green space, and pleasant people. It was less touristy than so many other cities we’d visited along the way.
The main square, Piazza Walther, was gorgeous and surrounded by restaurants, beautiful buildings, and views of the nearby mountains. The first evening in town, we sat down at a desert place on the corner and I ordered an iced coffee, which was pretty much a milkshake but I wasn’t complaining.
The Duomo Maria Assunta cathedral sits on the corner of the square and was a change from so many other cathedrals we’d seen because of its Gothic architecture. You can see Walther Square and a few other spots in town in this quick video.
Ötzi the Ice Man at the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology
We’d heard we shouldn’t miss the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, but when you’re on a trip like this it’s definitely hard to make it to everything. After a visit on our last day in Bolzano, however, we’re so glad we didn’t miss this exhibit.
This small museum tells the fascinating discovery of Ötzi the ice man. In 1991, German hikers discovered what they thought was the body of a lost hiker and reported it to authorities. It was soon understood that this was no lost hiker, but rather a mummy that was potentially extremely old. Archeologists were called in and the mummy was recovered and determined to have lived over 5,000 years ago (caution: this links to more graphic imagery).
The museum has the mummified body on display, behind glass and in a pressurized room that is kept at very specific temperatures and humidity to prevent it from decomposing any further. Information in the exhibit explained so many fascinating details archeologists have uncovered — primarily, that Ötzi appeared to have been murdered due to an arrowhead that was discovered in his shoulder.
The exhibit concludes with this replica of what Otzi probably looked like, over 5,000 years ago.
You know what’s wild? Through all this, I haven’t even touched on my favorite part of Bolzano — the fact that it’s so close to the Italian Dolomites and we took an amazing day trip to see them up close. More on that soon.
Our Final Town in Italy
It seemed fitting that Bolzano was our last city in Italy, as it felt like we’d already left the rest of Italy behind in this unique blend of Italian, Austrian, and Bavarian culture and architecture.
We still had two weeks of our trip left, but our next overnight stay would be in Bacharach, Germany and we couldn’t believe how much we loved it! Stay tuned, because there’s more to come. For realz.
This is part of a series about our Winters Family Summer Adventure through Italy and beyond. You can start from the beginning of the blog series here.