Brixen / Bressanone
The Sudtirol area of northern Italy was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, ruled by the Hapsburgs for 300 years. The 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye ended the Austro-Hungarian empire and ceded Sudtirol to Italy as war booty to compensate Italy for the tremendous losses Italian troops who died during the Great War. One of the bloodiest battlefields outside from the Western front were in Austrian alps and Dolomites where more than 750,000 Italian troops died.
Sudtirol is also known as Alto Adige for the Adige river which runs swiftly north to south through the steep valley toward Verona. The valley is lush from heavy rain and snow fall, and vineyards stretch along the hillsides for miles. The steep granite mountains, the Dolomites, are popular in the summer with hikers and in winters for skiers.
The principal town in Sudtirol is Brixen (German) or Bressanone (Italian). The Eisack and Reinz rivers meet in town where a major flood control project is underway to limit spring flooding which has left the city underwater for centuries.
Our lodgings were at a charming gasthaus 2 kilometers up the hillside from Bressanone. We had spent a few days in an apartment in center of Bologna, busy traffic, crowded streets, and a bit shabby with graffiti everywhere. The Gasthaus Majestic Lucy found online turned out to be the opposite of how we lived in Bologna.
We had a spacious and very modern apartment with kitchen, living room, bedroom, full bathroom with a washing machine! And a balcony to sip tea and coffee before going down to breakfast. After a busy day touring Sudtirol, we came back every night to enjoy a glass of wine on our balcony, marvel at the view of snow-capped alps in the distance and the sound of a rushing creek below.
We stayed a week. Enjoyed every minute of it.
The Majestic provided us with two Brixen cards when we arrived, a nifty and efficient way for tourists to get around the area without paying bus and museum fees. We used our Brixen cards three or four times a day, saving money, hopping on and off buses, getting into museums, traveling where we wanted using Brixen’s efficient public transportation.
If only the US had such efficient and modern public transportation in rural areas.
Plose to Val Croce
Our Brixen cards allowed us to take a bus to Plose along winding hillside roads above Bressanone, then board a cable car to Val Croce, a 6000 foot high plateau with spectacular views of the Dolomites, numerous hiking trails, and lush pastures where dairy cattle were grazing, bells clanging, munching grass, and drinking from streams of fresh mountain water.
We walked through Bressanone daily for sight-seeing, grabbing lunch and a glass of wine, or boarding a bus to travel to nearby villages. One Sunday, when buses weren’t running regularly, we hiked into town, down steep trails, passing terraced vineyards, crossing bridges until we reached Bressanone.
Along the way, we had nice views of town and the Reinz river.
Our travels around Sudtirol including visits to Luson, Vipetino, and Saint Ullrich, all charming alpine villages, scenic, and worth seeing.
Vipetino is a mountain village near Brenner and the Austrian border. It took our bus from Brixen almost an hour driving along a rushing river, crossing bridges, pulling off at villages to pick up and drop off passengers.
When we arrived, we spent a couple of hours strolling along cobblestone streets, having lunch, and stopping in a few shops.
We traveled through Sudtirol last summer on a train from Munchen through Innsbruck to Trentino, about 60 kilometers south of Bressanone. We enjoyed that trip so much, we wanted to return, stay in another town, explore the majestic Dolomites, scenic alpine valleys and villages. I’m sure we’ll be back!
Next: Otzi, the 5500 year old man
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