Bolzano: Ötzi! Ötzi! Ötzi!


Click to see full size. I personally think it is worth it.

Our last stop in Italy before returning to Switzerland was Bolzano, Italy. Bolzano is a small town in northern Italy that used to be a part of Austria, but was given to Italy during World War I. Mussolini tripled the small towns population, convincing Italian speaking citizens to move there, in an attempt to Italian immerse the town, and eradicating the current German culture. Since this ploy, the town has created a statute that maintains the German culture of the town, that has been so successful that the Dali Lama has visited a few times to learn of the procedure, in hopes of applying a similar plan to Chinese-occupied Tibet.

We stayed in the upper part of town, which was about 20 minutes from the town center but you could travel to it by bus or cable car. The hill had an amazing view of the mountains, and we stayed on a horse farm, which I personally was thrilled about. I highly recommend the Hotel König Laurin, and the town to any friends looking for a quiet weekend getaway. It isn’t such a big place that you can be entertained for a week, but if you want to relax and take it easy for a long weekend, I imagine you would be satisfied.

View from our room.

Our first day in Bolzano, Jeff and I went horseback riding from the hotel. Jeff was put on a horse named Nelly who would stop and eat whenever she felt like. He would be walking at the end of the line and I’d look back to see him 10 meters behind us with his horse munching on some flowers. He would be talking to Nelly, trying to persuade her to catch up, with an occasional squeeze from his heels. She didn’t seem to mind him. Later while we were walking through some woods, the lead horse and mine got spooked by something, and our horses bolted a few meters forward. We do a quick self check, and then look back for Jeff, and him and Nelly are just standing there. Munching on some more flowers.

All the horses on the farm are palominos.

After horseback riding we went down into town and had lunch, including a large beer for Jeff. Then we went to the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, which is the home of  Ötzi the mummy. Ötzi lived about 5,300 years ago and is the oldest mummy from Europe. The name comes from the Ötztal Valley, which is where he was found by two hikers in 1991. The body was extracted from the glacier and taken to the University of Innsbruck in Austria. A property battle ensued between Austria and Italy and after a border check, it was determined that the body was found 92m inside the Italian border, thus making him Italian property. The Museum has been specially modeled for Ötzi. He lives in a see-through freezer that is constantly kept at -6c and 98% humidity. His freezer has about 4 or 5 back up systems, including a generator and direct lines to the police, fire department, and hospital. There is a transportable freezer for him in case of an earth quake as well.

 These photos (above and below) have a strange juxtaposition.

Scientific study of the body has been able to discover a lot about Ötzi’s life. For example, he was 5’5″ had brown eyes, had been sick 3 times in the last six months before his death, he had arthritis, whip worm, tooth decay, and acupuncture related tattoos. Clothes that were around Ötzi when he died also told us much about what it would of been like to live back then. Ötzi wore a grass woven cape, and animal hide shoes, pants, belt and coat. He has a copper axe, a flint blade, and bow and arrows.


All this information was in the museum, which could be more appropriately be titled The Museum of Ötzi. It was a really great museum though. We spent 2 hours inside and were completely entertained the whole time. Each floor had a different theme to it, and the text was not to long and it was easy to read. The floor about Ötzi’s body had an interactive table screen that you could highlight and read about the different findings from his body. On the floor about Ötzi’s clothing there were samples available to try on, as well as a section to learn to braid your own rope. The last section of the museum was all about modern information about Ötzi, like how Brad Pitt has a tattoo of him on his forearm. There are also conspiracy theories associated with Ötzi, one being that his body is cursed, which is supported by 1) some individuals who worked with the body have since died, and 2) that he was found on 19/9/1991. After several court hearing and appeals, the finders of Ötzi’s body received a $150,000 finder’s fee, 18 years after the discovery. One of the hikers had died by then, probably due to the curse.

Aside from Ötzi, Bolzano is also know for its wine. The hills are covered with vineyards, but none seem to be interested in providing a wine tasting. The grapes were easily the most delicious I’ve ever had though we only had a few, in case someone was looking. I really wanted to go wine tasting, because I really have no idea which wines taste like what, and I thought trying them side by side would be educational. I learned a trick since then that I now use while buying wine in a grocery store. Pick a wine under 8€/$ that has won some award, gold, silver, bronze, whatever. This works great because the award means that somewhere, someone, at least one person has liked this wine, as opposed to the wines without awards, which maybe no one has ever liked. To add to the aesthetic of the hills and vineyards, Bolzano is also has a few castles around, for your visiting pleasure.

After Bolzano we made it back home to Zürich. It was bitter sweet being home, after having spend 6 weeks in Seattle, and another bunch of weeks in Italy. I had to finally deal with things that I had been putting off because “I am on vacation!” Sometimes little things confused me, such as, why I have so many freakin’ clothes. After spending 2 months with only 3 jerseys and 1 sweatshirt, I couldn’t understand why I owned 30 jerseys…

Perhaps a new logo for the Family Research Council?

In total we visited 11 cities in Italy, traveling 3,713 km (if we had went by car), and went up the entire west coast of Italy. It was an awesome trip.

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