Today's plan was to take the cable-car up to the Renon plateau, which is cooler than the Bolzano valley and offers great views towards the Dolomites. But with lots of cloud, and rain forecast, we decided instead to visit the nearby fortress of Runkelstein. Path 9 from near the hotel took us high above Gries to the belvedere Passeggiata del Guncina, with fine views down to the Murie-Gries monastery, virtually next to our hotel, and the Adige valley as a whole.
After a while, path 5 took over and we descended to cross a road via a precarious diagonal pedestrian crossing. Care was taken not to hamper the progress of the vintage cars taking part in the South Tyrol Rally, which I'm sure we've encountered in the past.
The Cascata e gola del rio fago (pictured) was passed, before we crossed the E5 route and took a riverside path up to the old fortress (also pictured) on the outskirts of Bolzano. But it feels well out of town and was a relaxing place to spend a few hours.
The fortress was started in the 13th century by Baron Wangan, and is built of and on an outcrop of porphyry rock that retains its heat better than most rock but is subject to degradation. So there have been many repairs and additions over the years, most notable after bourgeois brothers Franz and Niklaus Vintler bought it in 1385 and commissioned unique frescos for the whole structure. Many of the frescos survive, and they reveal aspects of courtly life in the fourteenth century that can't be found elsewhere.
The fortress, which became a castle fairly early in its life when it ceased to be an armed fortification and assumed a life as the home of noblemen, also has an exhibition about the Jews in the Bolzano area. It seems that they were allowed to play a greater part in the life of the town than were Jews in other parts of the South Tyrol area.
So, a fairly leisurely day, culminating in a pizzeria around the corner. We thought about trying the Hopfen & Co slow food restaurant in town, but the gathering clouds and rumbling thunder put us off.
Back to 'work' tomorrow!
Markus - I may have misled you, next Friday is less than a 'short' day, it's a 'zero' day, perhaps the last of our trip!
14 July 2012
10km and 250 metres ascent around Bolzano
Flower of the Day - Orange Mullein, on the path to the fortress
Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html
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