As I departed the known German speaking world and made my way into the northern reaches of Italy, I had a smooth transition in the Deutschsprachig, Dolomite city of Bolzano/Bozen. The area of South Tyrol has been a mix of Romance and Germanic cultures from the beginning and continues to be so to this day. I made my arrival to Bolzano as the sun went down over the Alps of Austria and therefore I did not know exactly what to expect the next morning when I woke up in the heart of the Italian Dolomites. My first priority after throwing my pack on my back was to get food and what a better place to get pizza than Italy! I followed my nose down the cobblestone streets to a food vendor in the center of one of the plazas near the main station to this glorious aroma of fresh breads and cheeses filling the air. Basically a euro per square foot of pizza I dropped two euro for this "snack" and kept on trekking southward in the narrow streets. After devouring the pizza, I was near the central plaza when I stumbled upon a very common place German site: Beer tents. I can not remember the names of the brewers but they were local and they were delicious! Mission accomplished with my stomach full, I was now ready to make my way to Sylvia's apartment to crash for the night. Reminiscing one this night, it was truly a 'bella notte'. Waking up refreshed and ready to go see where I landed myself with my own eyes, I opened the door to a mountain paradise! Not only was the scenery beautiful, the tarts and breakfast rolls were heaven-sent! Breaking my morning fast with plenty of pastries, I started my morning by stepping into the stunning structure of Assumption of Our Lady, the gem of Bolzano. Rising above the rooftops of the city, the cathedral is much like the city a blend of Italian and German influences. The green and gold tile-roof cathedral is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture coming together to make a commanding landmark among the outlandish peaks surrounding the city. I decided to go rogue after leaving the sanctuary of the cathedral and took Via Castel Roncolo to go about the vineyards and small farms terraced on the hillsides. Here is where the true wonders came into play when I was following this winding path and looked up to see the old fortress of Runkelstein (Roncolo in Italian) crowning one of the hill tops. Giving the trek a quick glance I made the executive decision of "next time" and made a left hand turn onto Via Rafenstein. This path led me to something I did not expect to find. The remaining ruins of the Treuenstein Castle stands among the rows of grape trellises with the 13th century tower mostly intact to this day! Continuing up the gorge, I came to a dirt path that took me up to a small waterfall that tumbles down from the heights above and over the tunnel of SP99 as it corkscrews through the rocky canyon walls. Once I reached a bench to take a breather and enjoy the view, the time had come when I head downhill and onto the train station with Florence in the scope!
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