Friday, 27 July 2012

bowled over by bolzano

I must admit, I was dreading my journey to Bolzano. With an 8am plane to catch, followed by a bus and then numerous hours sat on a train, I had resolved to sleep through the struggle. My attention was soon diverted, however, by a magnificent sight:  vineyards. Miles upon miles of the things. They surrounded me on both sides of the train, and sprawled right the way across to the Alps. As I contemplated the weeks of wine-filled merriment that lay ahead, suddenly I didn’t seem so tired anymore…

The prospect of a bountiful stay didn’t end there. When we arrived at the hotel, another member of staff said, “I need a spritz.” I suggested we met back in reception after a quick shower, and my ignorance was promptly set straight. Here, a spritz has nothing to do with freshening up. Rather, a spritz is a concoction of Aperol, Prosecco and soda water, garish orange in colour and wonderfully easy to drink. The shower could certainly wait; this was heaven.

Piazza Walther: the perfect Spritz-sipping spot

And it didn’t stop there. Dinner was a luscious spread of tomato-laden bruschetta, monstrous mounds of buffalo mozzarella, perfectly sweet melon and parma ham, and spaghetti with seafood (or rather seafood with spaghetti, given the amount of critters gracing my plate). When I asked for parmesan to accompany the spaghetti, I was reprimanded by my waiter, who firmly contested that I eat it without. He was absolutely right. I struggled to suppress gasps of glee at every bite. Rolling into bed, I made a mental note to pace myself – I have six weeks of such meals ahead – and blissfully nodded off.

The following morning, before I had time to remember this intended self-control, I had somehow managed to pile my plate high with Apfelstrudel, Sachertorte, plum cakes, and mounds of fresh berries. A ridiculously rich chocolate concoction also appeared to have found its way into my cup. Rather than dwell on this mysterious appearance, I gave in. I couldn’t let such delicious treats go to waste now, could I?

Remembering that I risked looking like the plump, juicy tomatoes I was gorging on (not to mention the 35-degree heat outside), I resolved to walk off the indulgence. Bolzano is a charming, compact town, filled with cobbled lanes lined with alfresco cafes, individual boutiques and market stalls – as well as plenty of gelaterias and pasticcherias that threatened to thwart my virtuous efforts. A considerable amount of personal strength was required to overcome to urge to purchase basketfuls of pretty chocolates, bags of dried fruit and nuts, and even a cake made of gummy bears. Fortunately, I managed to distract myself momentarily with quirky hat and shoe displays and a boutique selling beautiful traditional Dirndln.

Market stalls, pretty cafes and boutiques

Gummi bear cakes, huge chocolate shops, Bolzano's Hotel Sacher outpost, inviting assortments of cakes...

Another gratuitous observation provided the perfect excuse I needed to carry on chowing down cakes, cannoli and other confections – Bolzano is a town beloved by bikers. Tomorrow I’m going to collect one to hire and, hopefully, burn off some bruschetta whilst exploring some more. But in the meantime, I’ve got a spaghetti supper awaiting me downstairs…

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