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Solo in Italia once again: Venice, Bologna (Ravenna), Ortisei, Bolzano, Verona

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Sep 30th, 2018, 09:50 PM
  #41
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Adelaidean, thanks for the shoutout for Nonconformist's excellent report! I'd missed it this past summer.

BOLZANO

Hotel: The boutique Hotel Greif, old world exterior and modern, arty interior. Some of the rooms face the Waltherplatz; my single room, #214, (€134.00/night) had a view to the mountains. What you see is what you get re the picture on the web, blond wood cabinetry (great having a pull out for the luggage), dark wood floors, heavy silk curtain, high tech lighting, contemporary art on the walls, spacious feel. Bed a little on the not firm side. Superior bath products. This hotel won the breakfast wars, a lavish assortment of juices, yogurts, fruit (raspberries, blackberries, pineapple, banana, papaya, fig) meats, cheeses, breads, and pastries. The first day I poured a red juice, expecting blood orange, nope—fresh watermelon. Served in two light and bright rooms at right angles facing a courtyard.

Sights: Ötzi the Iceman: I’d come to Bolzano in large part to see Ötzi the Iceman, the prehistoric man found frozen in a valley in the Ötztal Alps on the border between Italy and Austria in 1991. He is the star attraction of the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology. The displays tell a compelling story of the Ötzi’s discovery and excavation and include Ötzi himself, lying on a table in a climate controlled cold room and visible through a small window, and his personal effects, including his copper axe, quiver and arrows, bearskin cap with leather ties, shoes, and coat. No photos were allowed on the second floor where most of these items are displayed so my photos of Ötzi are from videos.

Ötzi, who’s around 5300 years old, is a “wet” mummy, freeze dried and then covered with ice and perhaps snow (some disagreement about the details of this process). He survived because he was in a gully and so was passed over by the glacier. In the summer of 1991 dust from the Saharan winds blanketed the the valley which lead to the melting of more ice than usual, leaving Ötzi partially exposed. A couple out hiking wandered off the trail and came upon him. The police were called and then a team of archeologists arrived on scene.



Discovery and excavation


Chronology

Ötzi was initially repatriated to Austria and then a survey determined that he was found just over the border in Italy. The museum, a former bank building, was established and refitted to house him and his artifacts. A few facts: he had tattoos, his last meal included ibex, arrow wounds likely lead to his death; the discovery of his copper axehead moved the Copper Age back some 1000 years.

The multimedia presentations and organization of the displays were excellent. Two films stand out in my mind. The first showed the excavation when one of the team members placed his index finger inside Ötzi’s curled fingers, as one might with an infant. The other was a fascinating video depicting an emergency drill of what would happen if Ötzi and his personal effects required evacuation. There’s a cold room set aside at Bolzano Central Hospital just in case.



Model of how Ötzi would have looked


Ötzi's hand

Any scientific discipline that could be useful to the understanding who he was and what happened to him has been brought to bear on Ötzi. As science advances, particularly in imaging and genetics, so too does his story.



Family tree

An excellent experience, highly recommend.

Market in the Piazza delle Erbe: Loved this market, its stalls laden with the most gorgeous fruits and vegetables

Food: Vögele, recommended by a number of sources; I ate outside (a good option, I found, for the solo traveler), shrimp salad, a beer, and a café afogatto, perfect; Hopfen (which I’d noticed was always busy) for ribs, ok

Bolzano turned out to be a fertile hunting ground for my chocolate lovers back home.

Overall Impressions: Bolzano felt prosperous, light and fresh; lots of cafés and people out and about, bicycles everywhere
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Oct 1st, 2018, 04:38 AM
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You have reinforced my thoughts that we should add some time here on a future trip.

Your hotel sounds rather special. A good deal, for such grand surroundings.
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Oct 1st, 2018, 08:58 AM
  #43
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Adelaidean, the breakfast at the Greif really was the standout.
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Oct 1st, 2018, 11:49 AM
  #44
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Bolzano street scenes:



















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Oct 3rd, 2018, 07:28 PM
  #45
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VERONA

I had purchased my second class ticket on the Eurocity train to Verona the previous day for €23. Short walk to the train station for a departure a little after 11:00 and then a quick taxi ride to my hotel where I arrived at around 1:00. There were complimentary snacks and prosecco to tide me over while waiting for my room to be ready. I chatted with an English couple who had a travel horror story about their arrival in Italy some days prior involving a cancelled flight and luggage that took its time to show up, cue the ominous foreshadowing music here.

Hotel: The largest of my hotels with 95 rooms, the Hotel Accademia (superior single, €171/night) was ideally located just off the main shopping street, Via Mazzini, between the Piazza Bra and Piazza delle Erbe. My room, #131, was tastefully furnished and had a Juliet balcony that looked out onto to the street at the back of the hotel. The bed was centered in the room which made it feel a bit tight. Bath note: only the Corono d’Oro and Hotel Greif supplied washcloths, otherwise, and, as expected, bring your own. Breakfast was served in a large room on the ground floor. It was really busy the first morning and I wondered if there were a tour group in residence; the following mornings were quieter. The cured meats were noteworthy—I have a memory of complimenting the waiter on the prosciutto, scrambled eggs also good, limited cheese selection, the oj may have been canned as was much of the fruit. Excellent service at breakfast and overall. The Accademia was a solid choice.

Sights: Some cities are sights in themselves, and graceful, lively Verona is one. Its seamless integration of architectural styles and monuments from the Roman through Baroque periods, together with its marble streets, make for a highly pleasing combination of harmonious and stimulating. The historical center is compact and many of its famous sights—the Piazzas Brà, delle Erbe, and dei Signori, the Roman Arena, the Scaliger Tombs, its historic gates, Castelvecchio—are within a short distance.


Porta Borsari 1st century A.D.


A bit of the Roman Arena on the Piazza Brå


Piazza delle Erbe


One of the Scaliger tombs; the Della Scala family ruled Verona from the 13th through the late 14th century


Scaliger tomb


From the Scaliger tombs through the arches to the Piazza delle Erbe


Street in front of the Hotel Accademia





Dog and master, think the breed is a Bracco Italiano

To be continued...
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Oct 3rd, 2018, 07:36 PM
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Verona does look very pretty. I seriously considered including it on my trip this summer.

Worried about the ominous music...
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Oct 3rd, 2018, 08:21 PM
  #47
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Maybe another time. That prettiness together with some pretty intense medieval makes for an interesting combination.

And, not to worry, only mildly terrible. The gods had the scanner on over Verona as I thought how lucky I’d been in general with transportation.
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Oct 4th, 2018, 02:09 AM
  #48
 
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I loved Verona, too, and would happily return.

Nice mix of destinations you have had on this trip.

I considered adding Riva del Garda, maybe next time....
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Oct 4th, 2018, 05:58 AM
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You should definitly try the Food Tour in Rome then. Its perfect to meet new people! https://www.foodhoppingeurope.com/roma
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Oct 4th, 2018, 12:11 PM
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Glad you enjoyed my report. Yours is interesting too , and brought back some happy memories. I liked Bolzano.
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Oct 4th, 2018, 04:38 PM
  #51
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Adelaidean, I love the process of composing a trip. I’ll be looking forward to your next adventure.
Nonconformist, glad to have brought back good memories and look forward to your future travels and wonderfully detailed trip reports as well.
And, Leely, this is a detour, but what did you think of Camogli? When we were in that area, we based in Santa Margherita Ligure with daytrips to the Cinque Terre and Portofino, always wished we’d had just a little more time for Camogli.
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Oct 5th, 2018, 07:49 AM
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Brava, bon_voyage. Super TR and great photos. Where to next?
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Oct 5th, 2018, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bon_voyage View Post
Adelaidean, I love the process of composing a trip. I’ll be looking forward to your next adventure.
Nonconformist, glad to have brought back good memories and look forward to your future travels and wonderfully detailed trip reports as well.
And, Leely, this is a detour, but what did you think of Camogli? When we were in that area, we based in Santa Margherita Ligure with daytrips to the Cinque Terre and Portofino, always wished we’d had just a little more time for Camogli.
I liked Camogli quite a bit; it was very busy, mostly with Italian families. I had been to Cinque Terre many years ago, so didn't revisit that area. I hiked from Camogli two days, and really enjoyed it (though it was baking hot--there's a lot to be said for the Dolomiti in the summer, not the least of which is the pleasant walking weather). I also visited SML, Rapallo and Portofino by boat. What a beautiful area.

Any ideas where you'll go next?
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Oct 5th, 2018, 12:26 PM
  #54
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TDudette, thanks so much for those kind words! I can’t let go of Verona just yet, final installment will be completed this weekend . Leely, thank you for your take on Camogli—it is a beautiful area, one that I think of returning to, and the combination of train and boats makes it relatively easy to get around.

I’m sticking close to home at the moment so will be relying on the always enjoyable tales of my Fodorite friends. That said, if I could hop on a plane tomorrow, I’d be headed for East Africa, Egypt, and Amsterdam.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 06:09 PM
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VERONA continued

I’d arrived on a Saturday and woke up to a drizzly Sunday. I’d thought about attending a Catholic mass on this trip, and this seemed the perfect morning. The hotel staff recommended the nearby church of San Nicolo. The service was well attended and I was interested to see that all ages wererepresented. The singing was lovely.


Church of San Nicolo

From there I went to the Castelvecchio complex which was built in 1354 for Cangrande della Scala of the Scaliger tombs. Castelvecchio was beautifully reimagined by the Italian architect, Carlo Scarpa, its castle interior transformed between 1958 and 1975. Outside you walk the massive castle walls and look up at its towers and keep; the inside of the castle now serves as Verona’s civic museum. It is all just fabulous.

When she overheard me asking one of the museum guards about the crenellations, a young woman who introduced herself as an art history student tactfully drew me aside. She explained that, contrary to what I was being told, Castelvecchio’s swallow-tailed merlons were Ghibiline and represented support of the Holy Roman Emperor in contrast to Guelph style merlons with flat or pointed tops which represented support of the Pope.


Castelvecchio Museum and keep




Original equestrian statue with Cangrande--a replica is above his tomb




Fortified bridge over the Adige River built to provide safe passage to the Tyrol from Castelvecchio; destroyed in 1945, rebuilding completed in 1951

In November 2015 seventeen of Castelvecchio’s paintings were stolen by masked armed robbers. An inside job, the art works were recovered the following May and returned to Verona in December 2016. They had been found wrapped in plastic bags hidden in a forest in Ukraine. The “Portrait of a Young Boy holding a Drawing” seen below was among those taken.


This statue of Mary and the one following of the Crucifixion were placed opposite one another




Madonna of the Rose Garden


Portrait of a Young Boy holding a Child's Drawing

That evening, having arrived early to the hotel’s recommended restaurant, I walked across across the Via Mazzini to the Via Portici and caught a glimpse of a bearded man dressed in black leaving a door with a Hebrew inscription above it. There was a guard and I asked, what is this place. He told me it was the synagogue whose entrance was just around the corner to the left. More guards, including a couple in military uniforms with automatic weapons. The synagogue was open and ablaze with light. I was welcomed by Miriam who said that the occasion was an international diaspora day. In addition to the main worship space, she showed me a very old and treasured ark in a separate room. I learned that this was the current synagogue of Verona and Vicenza, its congregation including 100+ from Verona and another five from neighboring Vicenza.


the Synagogue of Verona and Vicenza

On Monday I visited the Basilica of San Zeno, considered one of Italy’s finest Romanesque churches, and the Gothic Sant’Anastasia, Verona’s largest church. Both provided cards in multiple languages with information about the art works. Among San Zeno’s treasures are its original 11th and 12th century bronze doors with scenes from the Old Testament on one side and the New Testament on the other. Gotta love that medieval mind as shown in the fresco below of the Last Supper, its places set with scorpions, a symbol of betrayal.


San Zeno Bronze door with scenes from the Old Testament


Moses receiving the Ten Commandments


San Zeno fresco of the Last Supper with scorpions

On the way from San Zeno to Sant’Anastasia, I passed through the Piazza delle Erbe again. On the weekend there had been a celebration of the family in the city and the PIazza had been set up with mini race courses for the little ones. Today it was tacky souvenir stalls with a little produce thrown in. A discordant note in the otherwise lovely historical center.

There were lots of tour groups in Verona, their leaders holding up signs to keep all their chicks together. I recall seeing one group of school children in the Piazza delle Erbe and thinking what a great way to learn about history and architecture.

Well-to-do Verona would be a good place to shop till you dropped—a wide spectrum of goods with many of the high end Italian brands represented.

Food: The day I checked into the hotel, I met a mother/daughter pair in the elevator who recommended Impero in the Piazza dei Signori for an early dinner. The Piazza, also known as the Piazza Dante for the statue at its center, was my favorite of the big three, and I totally enjoyed my pepperoni and funghi pizza and a Coke. I relied on the hotel’s recs for my other two nights. First night was Grappa, spinach ravioli with ricotta were good, tomatoes in the Caprese salad not ripe. The second night was Taverna de Via Serra, where I didn’t order well, lamb chops, not as good as those in Bologna, with grilled vegetables and then tiramisu for dessert.

That evening was memorable, however, for my favorite encounter of the trip. Seated at the next table for two was a charming young couple, he an electrical engineer and professor at a German university and she, originally from Japan, a translator. We had a delightful conversation over dinner. The elections in Germany were looming and they said that they had learned from us.

Departure: Scheduled to depart at 10:25 a.m. to connect to a flight leaving Frankfurt at 2:05 p.m., the plane that was to carry me to Frankfurt did not land in Verona due to bad weather. The nature of the bad weather was not immediately obvious. The casual, meteorologically unsophisticated observer saw no excessive rain, wind, or fog. Not having been a frequent air traveler in recent years and lucky, I now realize, the times I’d flown, I was unprepared to have the flight rug pulled out from under me. Rebooked on a flight to Frankfurt scheduled at 7:17 p.m. that evening that left an hour late. Made it out of Frankfurt the following morning on a 380 in premium economy. Whew! Next time I’ll research airline cancellation policies and airport amenities specific to my itinerary.

On closing: As powerful and fascinating as I found the medieval art and architecture, at times I felt, not just steeped but stewed, in the medieval. The Guggenheim in Venice, the energetic, young vibe in Bologna, my time in the Dolomites, and the Ötzi museum in Bolzano helped balance things out. After I got home, PT smoothed out those pesky facets, and writing this report has helped to consolidate my many good memories. Thanks to all for following along.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 06:56 PM
  #56
 
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Wow your photos of the mosaics in Ravenna are stunning. They remind me a bit of the mosaics in the Hagia Sophia. I have been debating whether or not to take away one of my five nights I have planned for Rome on my trip to Italy next Spring and stop somewhere for one night on my way down from Milan. Your Ravenna photos really give me thought about doing that.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 09:45 PM
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Thanks, MinnBeef!

Ravenna would make a good one night. It’s off the main train lines so it takes some getting to from wherever, and definitely from Milan. Spending a there night would allow you to see the mosaics at more leisure, a plus.
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/t...ing-still.html
Restoring the Mosaics of San Vitale « The Global Dispatches
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Oct 8th, 2018, 02:04 AM
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Lovely finale, bonvoyage have enjoyed travelling with you.
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Oct 8th, 2018, 08:34 AM
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Thanks so much, Adelaidean, where are you thinking you’ll go next?
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Oct 8th, 2018, 09:53 AM
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yes, wonderful photos, especially of the mosaics, and the sculptures in Verona. Lovely.

And thank you so much for taking the trouble to write and post your TR.
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