This morning we took the gondola cable car from our hotel up on the mountain top to the city of Bolzano 3,000 feet below on the valley floor. The cable cars each hold about 20 passengers and take just 12 minutes to reach Bolzano. The cable cars cross many lush green pine forests, many lush vineyards and the hillsides are dotted with charming single-family homes and small hotels.
Once in Bolzano we took a short orientation tour from the cable car station into the old town. Once in the old town we found a café where we waited for about 30 minutes for our tour guide to arrive. While waiting Kent and Christine, our program managers, ordered beers, coffee, and gelato ice creams for everyone.
Doris, our tour guide, led us on a two-hour tour around the old town. We visited the town church dating back to the 14th century, the main town square called the Piazza Walther Platz, the fruits and vegetable market and more. The old town includes a main street lined on both sides with a covered colonnade filled with shopping opportunities. The shops range from unique local shops to recognizable name brand shops and yes, even a McDonald’s. Most of the buildings in the old town are three to four stories tall, are well maintained and many of the streets are pedestrian only. In comparison to Oberbozen where our hotel is located, Bolzano is filled with tourists and locals, shopping, dining and going about their daily lives.
After our walking tour, Kent and I found a local café where we had a lunch of a salad, a pesto pasta with shrimp and a gnocchi dish. We then explored the old town a bit before heading back up the mountain via the cable car.
At 5:30pm we had another wine lecture where we tried another five varieties of local wines. At 7:00pm the hotel had prepared an outdoor cocktail party in celebration of the arrival of Assumption Day the next day. They had prepared drinks and a large variety of appetizers.
For dinner they had put out fresh light-colored linens, hand folded napkins, fresh white roses on each table and candles. The dining room looked beautiful. The chef had prepared a special dinner starting with a seafood plate of mussels, octopus, scallops and a small green salad. This was followed by a pasta course with two freshly made pastas with a chanterelle mushroom sauce. Next was a basil cream soup with fresh cream and a dollop of pureed tomato for color. The entrée was a veal medallion steak on a potato pancake, accompanied with roasted carrots, spinach and zucchini. Dessert was a delicious plate of fresh tropical fruits like kiwi, mango, plum topped with a panna cotta ice cream. It was all very delicious.
We dined this evening with Susan, a fellow traveler, and Christine, one of our program managers. We shared life stories…..very amusing.