Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bolzano - Day 3 - Good news

Had to get out of town for the day as Callum was comepting - he doesn't like us watching him live.

So we headed north to Bolzano and the Dolomites. The valley just north of Lake Garda through Arco, is stunning, with vineyards on both sides of the river and high limestone mountains on either side. Bolzano seemed full of German speakers and the restaurants were largely German cuisine (not a great sign). This whole area of northern Italy was ceded from Austria after the first world war and still has a strong German culture. It was called the southern Tyrol, now the Alte Adige. To this day there are tensions between the two ethnic groups. I'm on the side of the Italians, who have the better food, the better wine and the nicer temperament. We were short-changed (10 euros) by a German speaking waitress. confirming my prejudices!

What we really came to see in Bolzano was the Iceman, a 5,300 old mummy preserved in the ice until found in 1991. The local museum has an excellent exhibition, where you can see the iceman mummified in cold storage through a small glass window. But what is impressive is the background archaeology and display of his clothes and the objects found near his body. His coat was a striking example of prehistoric fashion, a striped fur piece. His shoes were bearskin souls, deer skin uppers and stuffed with straw against the cold. His trousers and underpants were cleverly designed to allow plenty of movement, suspended from his belt. His cap was of bearskin.

Analysis of his teeth, bones, skin and stomach contents revealed much about his life. Tattoos on his skin suggested therapeutic attempts to relieve joint pain. His teeth showed that he had lived in three separate areas, with different rock types, and his bones revealed an age of around 46. The contents of his stomach included venison, and bread.


He was a walking example of a sustainable economy, with weapons for hunting and protection (necessary sine he had been murdered), bark pots containing embers for fire, flint and pyrites for making fire, material for making arrowheads and tools for mending his clothes.

After lunch,we headed off to the Dolomites and climbed up to over 9000 feet where meadows and ski resorts lay just below teeth-like peaks. The scenery was stunning. At the top of the mountains we got a text saying Callum had won a Silver medal, so we headed back elated at the news.

We celebrated at La Contrada with some excellent wine, carpaccio of beef, octopus and orangesalad, horsemeat, rabbit, polenta, tiramisu and limoncello.