‘Bozen’ is the German name for the Italian city of Bolzano, found in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region near the Austrian border. This city is famous for a number of reasons, including the mind-boggling fact that it is entirely bilingual. Not only are all the street signs, menus, posters and place names in both Italian and German, but every resident of this city fluently speaks both languages – a fact which is at once daunting and fascinating. Everywhere you turn in Bolzano, you are surrounded by mountains and streams not dissimilar to the scenery of The Sound of Music, which definitely makes it seem too beautiful to be real. The regal, elegant and somewhat Germanic architecture found throughout the city centre adds to this too.
As Christmas’ Number 1 Fan, I thought it was only necessary that I should visit one of Europe’s infamous Christmas Markets during my time here: and the renowned Mercatino di Natale in Bolzano did not disappoint in getting me well and truly into the festive spirit. Located mainly in the city’s central Piazza Walther (or Waltherplatz), the market makes you feel like you have stepped into a fairytale: be it the picturesque wooden stalls, the incredible traditional foods or the gigantic, sparkling Christmas tree.
Wandering around the main market stalls, you can find an assortment of delicate, handmade Christmassy things, like glass baubles and intricately designed gingerbread houses. You can also buy those famous heart-shaped German gingerbread biscuits that can be hung up (which always make me think of Hansel and Gretel), and a range of pretty little snow globes.
The ice-skating rink, although small and definitely not meant for anyone over the age of 12, is set underneath a canopy of trees decorated with ornaments and giant baubles, which totally justifies a group of 20-year-old girls spending hours on the ice. Right?
Because I am a huge lover of German cuisine, and am also, without fail, always hungry, I made a bucket-list of everything I wanted to eat during my weekend in Bolzano – and was extremely excited when I managed to tick everything off. The list included Bretzel (I found one bigger than my head), Currywurst (because it is the best thing ever invented), Schnitzel, Knödeln and, obviously, Glühwein because it’s Christmas and so it’s compulsory. After trying the pizza also (which is said to get worse the further north you travel), I can confirm that Bolzano definitely does German food right. I would go back just for the wurst.
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