Crossing Historic Brenner Pass

9 Nov 2023

As both a college history major and serious genealogist, Brenner Pass is known to me. The pass over the Alps between Italy and Austria was a strategic goal for American soldiers in World War 2. Brenner Pass is a part of my great-uncle Elmer’s biography. He fought in the 363rd Infantry Regiment, 91st Infantry Division.

The military goal in late-1944-spring 1945 was win Rome, march north through the Po Valley and across Brenner Pass into Austria, facing the main German army and ending the war. Elmer did not reach the pass. He was killed in action 16 April 1945 and is buried in the American Cemetery outside of Florence, Italy.


Bolzano or Bozen?

Nein, das ist Italien

8 November 2023

Snow continues to accumulate upon the surrounding peaks, its icy chill is in the morning air. I am thankful the white stuff is up there, not down here on the city. As the sun warms Bolzano, and me, I find myself wandering its streets and arcades.

At first, walking about Bolzano, I was not overly impressed. There is an abundance of shopping, name-brand shoppes, and a lot of people. I discover Bolzano is an interesting mix of Austrian and Italian cultures. However, the more I explore, the more I like it. It may be Bozen for German speakers, but it is Bolzano to me.


Bolzano, Italy – Meeting the Iceman

6-7 November 2023

Trento to Bolzano is a direct, 50-minute train passage through spectacular scenery. This is the gateway to the Dolomites, the Tyrol. Tall escarpments and snow-capped peaks tower overhead while vineyards cover the valleys. Grape leaves are beginning to yellow, valley trees are in full yellow and red fall colors.

Puffs of white cloud drift over the peaks with their dusting of snow. Nothing serious as yet; ski season is not quite ready. It feels warm for this time in November, and probably is. A fast moving river tumbles and plunges down the valley. As I climb further into the Italian Alps, I become more enthralled with its pristine beauty.

Arriving at the Bolzano train station, I feel like I’m in Austria, though I’m not. Immediately, I see my first Tyrolean hat, named thus as the Tyrol is where it was first produced. It seems to lack the traditional rooster feather. I hear more German than Italian. Signage is in both languages.

My Hotel Regina is just a few steps from the station. I toss my bags in my room and head out to meet “the Man.”


Trento, Italy

Exploring Trentino-Alto Adige

4-5 November 2023

Castle fortress Beseno

Travel in Italy is very different, but so much easier, than my first visit in 1972. Today, I purchase my rail ticket online where I also do self-check-in, I walk the short distance to the train station, and follow English directions to the platform. The train is on time and comfortable. I speed off to my next destination – Trento.

Trento is in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige in northern Italy. No direct train – all stop in Verona. Then the regional train turns north into the Alps. It is a route of dramatic waterfalls, large castles, a mountaintop fortress at Beseno, and green vineyards. A blanket of snow covers the craggy peaks.