After my bike riding adventure, I was very pleased John had discovered the Aqua Dome – a wellness and spa resort in Lägenfeld. My first port of call was the Kräuterbadl – a mable hot seat. Here I could allow the tension and terror to just ebb away. Next the Dampfdom – a steam room- followed by a dip in an ice pool to really awaken the senses. This exceptional resort located in the Ӧtztal Valley offered half-board and an exceptional therme. We indulged. Three nights was perfect- the food, the accommodation, the facilities, the location- heaven.
We made our way by bus and train from Austria to Bolzano, Italy, a city, which until 1920, had been part of Austria. My observation – the people, the places, the products are reliable, well organised and very stylish. A fabulous combination! Our room at the Stadd Hotel Citta overlooked the main square which hummed with humanity and histories.
It’s interesting how a town can create livelihoods around a single attraction. In this case a remarkable museum, the Ӧtzimuseum, dedicated to the ice mummy discovered accidently by a couple of hikers in 1991 and estimated to be around 5300 years old. The research surrounding the ‘wet mummy’ is incredible as well as the fact that there is now a viewing window into the ‘fridge’ where you can see Ӧtzi! We know what he was wearing, how it was made and what it was made of, we know about the tools and weapons he was carrying and even the details of his last meal. This, scientists estimate he ate about an hour before he was murdered! DNA testing has determined the colour of his skin, hair and his genetic makeup. It is truly a fabulous museum and Ӧtzi, must be one of the most significant of the European treasures.
Bolzano, is full of surprises. It’s compact centre, cosy bars, intimate arcades and cool colonnades make for a marvellous city. The mix of fabulous architecture, labyrinthine and purposefully organised streets add to the charm and character of this exceptionally habitable little city. We were completely under its spell.
Then we found ourselves relaxing at Cobo’s Fischbänke- entertained, entertaining and posing as ‘roadies’ attaching ‘air-conditioning’ units by flimsy wire hooks and hoping they didn’t fall and injure someone. We drank- my choice Aperol Spritz and John’s – the ubiquitous Hugo: a cocktail of Tyrolean elderflower, Italian prosecco, mint and lime.
Italy continued to seduce. Trieste was a stopover – the port where we would pick up the ferry to Croatia. Here we discovered the largest seafront square in Europe -Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia, built when Trieste was the most significant port of the Austro-Hungarian empire. A place where Richard the Lion Heart was imprisoned and James Joyce spent ten years writing such epics as ‘The Dubliners’ at wonderful atmospheric cafes such as San Marco’s. Trieste felt different. Independent. Resilient. Resourceful. It felt good. I felt very much at home.
Finally, our five-minute walk to Molo IV half an hour before departure. The queue was …significant! There was a sense of ‘nessun problema’ – no worries! Security guards looked important as Italians in uniform seem to do, checked luggage and used handheld scanners for traces of explosive, of course, choosing the most likely suspects – old people and attractive young women. Yes, I was singled out!!! I had to think carefully about which category I fell in to. Age is ‘delusional’- characterized by or holding idiosyncratic beliefs or impressions that are contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder (Google).
We move on.