If you happen to be visiting Otzi in Bolzano, and don’t make time for a trip up to Ober Bolzano (or Soprabolzano given its Italian name) then you are missing a real treat.
Cable cars are just a fact of life in this part of the world. Whether you are being dragged up to the top of the Zugspitze in one of the biggest cable cars I have dangled about in (just don’t look backwards as you are getting off this one!), or hanging high above the snowy pistes in a regular ski slope car, they are just there, and you just get used to them… So it has to take one that’s pretty much out of the ordinary to want to get straight back on (once it spits you out at the top) and repeat the journey a few times…
The Funivia Del Renon happens to take the No.1 slot of things to see and do in Bolzano on a certain review website, and as much as Trip Advisor and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of ratings, I have to wholeheartedly agree with this one! Follow the signposts for a short walk through the city centre, where you will find the rather unusually placed (I am not used to such urban locations for these things!) cable car station ready and waiting to send you on your way (up)!
What’s not to like about stepping on board an ultra modern cable car (that also happens to be a form of public transport for those lucky souls living at the top – can you imagine a) living somewhere so beautiful, and b) having something like that as your “bus”?) and taking some time out to sit back, relax and enjoy a scenic journey up and out of Bolzano, and over and above a steep autumnal carpet of alpine trees, then on to a relatively flat section of the journey over quintessential Heidi houses (which will leave you arguing over which one you would live in – I want the one with the St Bernard!), over the heads of grazing cows in typical green pastures (complete with clonking bells), Earth Pyramids, and quite possibly bears – to mention just a few of the things you could spot on your five kilometre journey…
I didn’t make up the Earth Pyramids or the bit about bears by the way. Bolzano’s Earth Pyramids were created by melting glaciers (they chucked up all sorts of things didn’t they?) and if you are a parent and absolutely hate the stuff, will remind you immediately of giant red(ish) Moon Sand sculptures. They are still changing shape to this day (the Earth Pyramids, not the Moon Sand Sculptures) given weather/climate conditions, and you can spot them on the right hand side of the cable car about half way up. They are relatively easy to walk to apparently if you fancy a hike, check out the directions on the large map at the top. And (although it’s highly unlikely that you will see actually see one), if you do fancy a bit of a walk off the beaten track, then you should be aware that bears have been spotted in these parts!
Once at the top station, there are a few shops, some hotels, a cafe, and a tiny train that will take you on to the further picturesque mountain villages up here (there are 17 altogether!). But, if like us you have just eaten an immense Italian lunch, then your guilt will probably make you go for a walk; and with such scenery on offer that’s really not a bad thing – on a clear day (which sadly not many of my photographs illustrate – thanks clouds!) you can see across the Dolomites for miles.
Quite typically for us however, around 45 minutes into our expedition the clouds rumbled in and the wind picked up. So, despite the fact that we had only just made it to the large natural pond (used for skating and curling in winter months – that will be in around 4 weeks then!) that one of the Small People had flipped a coin to walk to, and had to abandon any and all plans to visit the Bee Keeping Museum due to the fact that we were ridiculously dressed for storm conditions, should one turn up.
There was nothing for it but a fast pacedf march back to the cable car, for a quick descent and a very worthwhile visit to Gelateria Menodicciotto (just off Walther Platz) for a pineapple ice cream (amazing!)… Don’t miss the cable car, or the gelato.
Cable cars leave every four minutes so there are barely any queues (except for perhaps in the height of summer!). Each car can carry up to 30 people and you can take bikes, pushchairs, suitcases, and probably just about anything that fits judging by the looks of things (as I’ve said, this is a form of public transport for local people!!)… Don’t forget to look out for Earth Pyramids (and bears!)… Free with the Bolzano card, otherwise €10 return…