We took our first day off in the capital of the South Tyrol region, Bolzano. The region is highly autonomous and is considered one of the wealthiest in Italy, as well as all of Europe. They are allowed to keep 90% of the taxes that they levy.
German and Italian are both official languages. The architecture is leaning toward the familiar German-Tyrolian style (like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music). We are surrounded by mountains and watch the trams going up the steep slopes. But these are for tourists, we can see no ski areas from town.
Otzi, the “iceman” is on display here in the Museum of Archeology. He was well preserved by a glacier a couple of thousand years ago and was discovered by two hikers in 1991. Most research on him was done in Austria but he was actually in Italy, less than 100 meters from the border.
This region became part of Italy after World War 1. As recently as 1970, the United Nations helped write a new treaty that has calmed the unrest created by nationalistic feelings and resulted in the great autonomy enjoyed by the local government.
We are now cycling west towards Merano, camping somewhere north of town. The Stelvio awaits us for tomorrow.