The city's main square shows many influences but as its known name of "gute Stube" infers, it was built initially by German forefathers. Originally built in 1809 by King Maxmillian of Bavaria, it was later renamed after Walther, one of Germany's greatest poets. His statue has been reinstated after the Fascist regime ordered it placed outside the city from 1935-1985. It is quite the peaceful square today and a place to that tourist as well as locals seem to congregate.
Bolzano is a charming place for either an extended stay or merely a stopover. The compact city center is easily explored on foot and has numerous place to eat and drink. The surrounding area is a fine mixture of nature with rugged peaks and deep gorges, and of a gently beautiful wine region. The Duomo is the city's prized cathedral with its original structure dating back to 1295 in the Romanesque style but later building from 1340 were continued in the Gothic style by Swabian workers. It is open Mon-Fri from 9:45-12:00, 14:00-17:00 and only Sat mornings.
The view from Glatschalm is fantastic but to truly escape the masses and gain a different perspective, it is best to do a a longer walk. We did one up to Refugio Genova and the views like the one pictured of the Geissler on our way up were exceptional and best of all, we had them to ourselves. It was very early in the season and mid-week so this surely contributed to our solitude. The uppper hut was closed so we had this picnic area sans crowds too. :)
Though the Geissler range's hightest peak is little more than 3000 meters, they as a group are imposing as they seem to jut straight up out of nowhere. The more popular views are from Val Gardena but the Villnoes valley has equally impressive vantage points. One of the closest is from Berggasthof Glatschalm. It is a bit touristy and there are busloads of elderly tourists there gawking at them, but you can do a short walk along the base to escape some of the crowds. The gasthof has a limited menu but the food was quite good and really not too expensive considering the view.
The Passo Stelvio is supposed to the second highest pass in the Alps. The actual point of the pass itself is scenic enough with some shops, restaurants and hotels. However, the best part of the trip is the getting there. We quite stupidly decided that it was a “short cut” to get back from San Cassiano to Milan. It was the longest short cut of our lives… the drive was steep with extremely tight turns, and I freaked out on many occasions (the wimp that I am).
However, we were rewarded with some spectacular landscapes, with waterfalls and glaciers.
Cycling races come through here (I think the Giro d’Italia as well), and we did see many brave souls on the bicycles as we were driving there.
Cortina is supposedly Italy’s winter playground for the rich and famous. In the summer time, it’s a pleasant town to visit with lots of shops, cafes and with good facilities. There is an Olympic ice-skating rink here (open-air).
When I was there in winter, the crowd there was very much made up of well-heeled ladies in their fur coats, rather than skiers dragging the their clunky equipment around.
This is a great base from which to explore the Dolomites. It is a small village with many good quality hotels and holiday apartments.
There is one main road, and people are very friendly.
From San Cassiano itself there is a cable car straight to the Piz Sorega skifield (2003m).
I do like cemeteries in Sudtirol very much. They are so different from ours, always in open spaces, always with stunning flowers and plant. They look even like a place full of joy.
Moena is a beautiful small town located in Val di Fassa (Fassa Valley).
Here you can stroll along the river and see many beautiful houses.
Ortisei is another pleasant Alpine village with quite a bit going on. Lots of opportunities for shopping for local delights.
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