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Monday, 28 April 2008

Alto Adige/Sud-Tyrol

Eighteen degrees at 2pm. Overcast. The hygrometer hairs at the nape of my neck suggest it may rain e'er long.

Last Thursday we boarded Pandissima for a weekend's visit to Alto Adige/Sud-Tyrol (anybody know how to do an umlaut?). The trip included two heart-pounding, truck-dodging hours of novice driving on the autostrada to take us up into the heart of the mountains.

Alto Adige/Sud-Tyrol was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until the end of the first world war, when it was handed over to Italy. It became an autonomous province of Italy after the second world war. Both German and Italian are spoken here, although in essence, the region looks north rather than south for its culture, architecture and traditions. All signs are bilingual, and someone at some time or another seems to have been given the interesting job of translating all the original Austrian place names and street names into an Italian version. For example, the village name Unser Frau becomes Madonna in Italian, and a letter addressed to either one would get to the same place, adding, I would imagine, a fair amount of complexity to mail sorting. A second example was Baeckergasse (Baker's Alley), which I saw twinned with the slighly misleading Via Fornaio (Baker Street).

There is also a mysterious local language, called Ladin, which is similar to the Swiss Romansch and which itself seems to have a couple of distinct dialects.

To be recommended is Berghotel Tyrol which is situated in the high Val Senales/Schnalstal. It is the first hotel I've come across as a mother where I haven't had to chase a porter around the place trying to locate the pre-requested cot and have it brought to the room and set up, and where said room was large enough to accommodate two adults and two children with space also for their (always) considerable luggage. The food also was exceptionally good. Extras include a pool, sauna, games room and ski facilities. Plus very sympathetic staff, who immediately went in search of extra blankets when M. developed the fever that went with the stomach-bug (oh yes, we all had it in the end).

Thank-you to our hosts the Weithaler family, for their hospitality, and patience with the mess the children made of the dining room every meal time.
Outings included a visit to the beautiful Trauttmansdorff Castle Gardens, where some thoughtful person had bothered to insert all sorts of strange and wonderful gadgets and play areas for children among the exotic plantings and babbling waterways. This made it possible for everyone in the party, from the 69-year-old gardening enthusiast to the 21-month-old toddler, to find something of interest, and meant that there was almost no whining (from any age group) all morning. Lunch took place in the pretty town of Meran/Merano in a beer garden worthy of a place among Munich's most typical, sending M. into paroxysms of nostalgia.

The following day we walked further up the mountain to the highest cereal-growing farm in the region, at 1952m, where we tried some of the locally made Schnalser-speck, cured bacon. Rich, strong-tasting and delicious! The farmyard full of chickens, cats and lambs proved to be ample diversion for the children.

Strangely (for me, anyway), it is still winter in the mountains. The daffodils are just beginning to flower at c.2000m, an event that took place here in Carmine about a month ago, if not more. Driving back down to the lowlands became an exercise in time travel. The trees gradually greened, and soon the naked pines transmuted into row upon row of espaliered apple trees blossoming white and pink. At Trauttmansdorff Castle, thousands of brightly-coloured tulips danced in the sunshine.

And back here in Carmine the landscape is warm and lush. I've today declared summer, planted the tomatoes, and although it's going to be a little hard on the knobblies for the next couple of weeks, I've put away the long trousers in favour of summer shorts.

2 comments:

Dave said...

Louise,

Try http://allchars.zwolnet.com/ for all your unusual character needs.

brokenax@hotmail.com

Louise said...

Thanks - will do!

Monday, 28 April 2008

Alto Adige/Sud-Tyrol

Eighteen degrees at 2pm. Overcast. The hygrometer hairs at the nape of my neck suggest it may rain e'er long.

Last Thursday we boarded Pandissima for a weekend's visit to Alto Adige/Sud-Tyrol (anybody know how to do an umlaut?). The trip included two heart-pounding, truck-dodging hours of novice driving on the autostrada to take us up into the heart of the mountains.

Alto Adige/Sud-Tyrol was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until the end of the first world war, when it was handed over to Italy. It became an autonomous province of Italy after the second world war. Both German and Italian are spoken here, although in essence, the region looks north rather than south for its culture, architecture and traditions. All signs are bilingual, and someone at some time or another seems to have been given the interesting job of translating all the original Austrian place names and street names into an Italian version. For example, the village name Unser Frau becomes Madonna in Italian, and a letter addressed to either one would get to the same place, adding, I would imagine, a fair amount of complexity to mail sorting. A second example was Baeckergasse (Baker's Alley), which I saw twinned with the slighly misleading Via Fornaio (Baker Street).

There is also a mysterious local language, called Ladin, which is similar to the Swiss Romansch and which itself seems to have a couple of distinct dialects.

To be recommended is Berghotel Tyrol which is situated in the high Val Senales/Schnalstal. It is the first hotel I've come across as a mother where I haven't had to chase a porter around the place trying to locate the pre-requested cot and have it brought to the room and set up, and where said room was large enough to accommodate two adults and two children with space also for their (always) considerable luggage. The food also was exceptionally good. Extras include a pool, sauna, games room and ski facilities. Plus very sympathetic staff, who immediately went in search of extra blankets when M. developed the fever that went with the stomach-bug (oh yes, we all had it in the end).

Thank-you to our hosts the Weithaler family, for their hospitality, and patience with the mess the children made of the dining room every meal time.
Outings included a visit to the beautiful Trauttmansdorff Castle Gardens, where some thoughtful person had bothered to insert all sorts of strange and wonderful gadgets and play areas for children among the exotic plantings and babbling waterways. This made it possible for everyone in the party, from the 69-year-old gardening enthusiast to the 21-month-old toddler, to find something of interest, and meant that there was almost no whining (from any age group) all morning. Lunch took place in the pretty town of Meran/Merano in a beer garden worthy of a place among Munich's most typical, sending M. into paroxysms of nostalgia.

The following day we walked further up the mountain to the highest cereal-growing farm in the region, at 1952m, where we tried some of the locally made Schnalser-speck, cured bacon. Rich, strong-tasting and delicious! The farmyard full of chickens, cats and lambs proved to be ample diversion for the children.

Strangely (for me, anyway), it is still winter in the mountains. The daffodils are just beginning to flower at c.2000m, an event that took place here in Carmine about a month ago, if not more. Driving back down to the lowlands became an exercise in time travel. The trees gradually greened, and soon the naked pines transmuted into row upon row of espaliered apple trees blossoming white and pink. At Trauttmansdorff Castle, thousands of brightly-coloured tulips danced in the sunshine.

And back here in Carmine the landscape is warm and lush. I've today declared summer, planted the tomatoes, and although it's going to be a little hard on the knobblies for the next couple of weeks, I've put away the long trousers in favour of summer shorts.

2 comments:

Dave said...

Louise,

Try http://allchars.zwolnet.com/ for all your unusual character needs.

brokenax@hotmail.com

Louise said...

Thanks - will do!