Our family summer holiday.
Aren’t we supposed to be in Italy?
Bolzano was our outbound overnight. Italy found itself on the winning side of WW I and reclaimed this South Tirolean region from the Empire, and when Mussolini took over he even forbade the German language to be spoken. But his plan of linguistic imperialism failed. With signs in German and the architecture more Innsbruck than Italian, the city seems to suffer a cultural identity crisis.
This is not to write that Bolzano did not charm us; we were just entirely confused. While walking about the compact city we kept asking one another, “Aren’t we supposed to be in Italy?” A walk past the grocery store with its posted Sunday hours answered the question. Italy. Not Austria.
Seafood, Sunshine, and Sand.
Three days of the holiday were devoted to worshipping the sun gods. The beach was just 10 or so minutes from our rental villa, in one of the quaint and quiet towns along the western Italian riviera. We were likely the only tourists, it was that idyllic.
The daily parade of North African hawkers was our sundial. In the morning, the men selling beach towels and sunglasses; in the afternoon, the women selling linen dresses, jewelry, and offering henna tattoos wandered from lounger to lounger. The women, in particular, had friendly relationships with some of the local women. One afternoon I could not resist the call of saleswoman with linen dresses, and one of the locals helped negotiate the sale for me.
The dress was the perfect attire at the restaurant for dinner that (and just about every) evening.
The Italian riviera, at least the Western side, dedicates several beaches to the four-pawed holiday-goer. Like mini-resorts, these beaches included fenced playgrounds and specific water areas; and the restaurant even offered doggie gelato to cool off your Cani. CTF approved.
One tired beach puppy.
Our villa had a pool. Yes, they are 15 and 20 years in age and fighting over an alligator floatie.
Our villa also came with Lola, the owner’s Miniature Dachshund who had a fangirl crush on Clayton Theodore. On a couple of occasions we found her waiting outside of our door for the goofy hound. Really quite adorable.
Genova, Christopher Columbus’ ‘Hood.
Not because we weren’t enjoying our beach time; yet over the reluctance of the children to spend one day away from the beach, the harbor and ancient port city of Genoa won them (and us) over. Who knew!
San Lorenzo Cathedral
In February 1941 a British Navy battleship accidentally fired a shell into the cathedral. The shell never detonated and remains now for all to see.
What happened when we asked the children to take our photo before a gelato stop.
Quite a remarkable visit to the aquarium, Europe’s second largest. In the nearby square, a festival or market having something to do with Sardinia and its tall King and Queen (?) provided entertainment. Lunch was seafood, what else?
By this point in the day the children were in the spirit of the “Non-Fun” day, as they originally declared it, and completely amused themselves on a reproduction galleon in the harbor. Because they could.
Medieval gates attest to Genoa’s ancient status. Astute eyes will note that Genoa and England share the same flag, St. George’s Cross. This is because England handsomely paid the Republic of Genoa’s Doge a transit fee so that its ships could pass safely into the Mediterranean, and along the way picked up a few flags to call their own.
Closing our day was a stop at Christoper Columbus’ house. Adjacent to the house lies the ruins of St. Andrew’s Monastery, which we found more impressive than the 18th century reconstruction (of just the house facade), as the original burned in the late 1600’s.
We ❤️ Tirol!
Our regularly scheduled program of sun, sand, and seafood resumed the following day, and soon the calendar page flipped to Departure Day. Declaring the return home to be a, “Non-Fun” day, I hastily contacted the Tirolean resort we had reserved for the overnight and asked if a second night could be added to our reservation. The vacation gods smiled upon us and we pointed the wagon north. Over the Dolomites and through the Brenner Pass; and past marshmallow farms and lush panoramas, to our resort suite in the alps.
Seefeld in Tirol hosts an annual music ambassadors concert series each summer, and we had the opportunity to be serenaded during a self-made Happy Hour on our balcony by the, “Kansas Ambassadors,” a collection of university students who performed among other classics the Kansas State Song, Home on the Range. A little bit of America, just for us!
A pre-dawn thunderstorm the following morning almost dashed our plans for a hike. But then the clouds parted in spectacular Tirolean style!
After threatening Tony like only I can if he did not hike carefully on his still-healing ankle, we took the funicular train up 1700m to begin our what-turned-out-to-be-a 12km hike, because climbing back up 2/3 of the trail to ride the funicular down didn’t seem intuitive.
The children took the cable car higher, their goal being to summit Seefelder Joch at 2226m. This was Anna Grace’s first summit!
Along our 16% grade descent (oops! Guess we should have looked into that!), COWS!
Halfway down, past cows and stunning scenery to an Alm for much-needed rest and some well-earned Schnitzel with a View. Unbelievable, but our wandering children caught up with us long enough to be fed, and then they climbed down (or more likely, ran) the remaining 6km to the resort pool.
Sir Gimps Alot and I followed a good distance behind, with fellow moo-ing meanderers keeping pace.
As always, all good things have to reach an end. With no more holiday extensions possible, and cases filled with sand-covered clothes, it was officially time to go home.