The Italian Job: Day 18 – Back up in the hills with Heidi

One of the things that has struck me in Bolzano is just how prevalent mask wearing is.

It has been a requirement for public transport and in museums wherevever I have been so far and, around Garda shops and hospitality staff wore them even if their customers (invariably tourists and travellers) didn’t. In Bolzano, the vast majority of people put a mask on as soon as they step indoors.

I’ve also seen more pro-precaution graffiti here than in other places. It’s also more impressively executed than the “anti-green pass” scrawls I’ve seen in other places.

So I wondered about Bolzano’s experience (from a numbers perspective) throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of the 13th May, in Italy there have been 16,993,813 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Currently about 680,000 people are sick, that is one in every 89 inhabitants.

The current incidence is 440.7 new cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants.

I don’t know what Italy’s approach to testing is for the general population but if it hasn’t changed from how they were previously measuring then there’s a consistent understanding. I’ve brought a box of lateral flow tests so I can test just about twice weekly and take action (i.e. quarantine) if necessary.

As of the 13th May, in Bolzano there have been 214,956 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Currently about 3,300 people are sick, that is one in every 160 inhabitants.

The current incidence is 409.2 new cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants

In Lombardia (stretching from Milan, through Bergamo to the Western shore of Garda) there have been 2,837,206 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Currently about 140,000 people are sick, that is one in every 74 inhabitants.

The current incidence is 365.0 new cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants

As of 13th May in Piemonte (Turin) there have been 1,174,659 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Currently about 37,000 people are sick, that is one in every 120 inhabitants.

The current incidence is 356.3 new cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants.

As of the 13th May, in England there have been 18,656,568 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Currently about 160,000 people are sick, that is one in every 360 inhabitants.

The current incidence is 107.9 new cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants… though we’re no longer testing. At the point when we stopped testing, rates were much higher than what Italy is seeing now.

Today’s activity started with a mask wearing bus trip and it was going so well… and then… THEN… the bus opened its doors in front of a primary school and a horde of 30 six year olds boarded with ther teacher and teaching assistant. I was now trapped on a bus with the munchkin army.

It took approximately five minutes to get the bouncing little buggers into seats. They were far too excited about whatever their day trip is to be calm and quiet… despite the teacher’s repeated “hushes”. She was patrolling the bus from one end to the other to deal with the seperate rabbles.

She nearly dropped when it looked like several of her charges were going to make a break for it when all three sets of the bus’s doors opened. This was like watching the final battle for the Moon of Endor as the Ewoks go into action.

I had a horrible feeling these highly exciteable mini menaces were heading in the same direction as me…

… They were. The teacher had ten minutes to calm them before we all had to ride in the same cable car… with the grumpy teenager who had arrived at the station and realised he’d just missed the last one and that he was now sharing the same car as the army of short orcs. The teacher had reinforcements by this point and was trying to count the kids into groups of four. It was like watching someone try to herd cats.

They were now at the vending machines – oh good, sugar: that’ll help. We were going for the full “Gremlins 2″ reenactment.

That One is Heading Back Down the Hill

I survived the ride in the cable car with one third of the munchkin horde on their grand day out. The teacher asked the car operator if it was possible to put on another two extra rides otherwise… with the timetable allowing a cable car trip only every 15 minutes… it was going to be another 30 minutes before the group is fully assembled.

The cable car to Colle (Kohlhern) was opened in 1908, making it the oldest free-floating cable car in the world. It was financed by the Josef Staffler, an innkeeper of Bolzano, and was intended to bring guests to the Colle mountain. Why he didn’t make up a legend (examples Beddgelert and Juliet’s House) to entice (having installed the means of transport) to get there is beyond me.

The views are stunning but that’s pretty much all there is to do up there and there are no cafes in the village. (Mondays are when the museums are closed. I discovered that it seemed to be affecting the cafes too). Once you’ve been up the viewing tower, which offers stunning views, but are not intending to hike, you’ve pretty much exhausted Colle. It is a very popular spot with cyclists and walker, providing a key green lung for Bolzano’s air quality.

The kids did not come back down the cable with me. At the time of writing, they were still up there. I wonder if they discovered the viewing tower yet. I heard their voices getting closer while I was at the top and figured this was a good defensive position. One point of entry, steps no more than two six year olds wide… Come the zombie apocalypse it’s a contender.

Thirty six year olds and a tower? They’d have a field day. There’d be two republics formed by lunchtime.

From Colle, I decided to return to the Renon Plateau. I really enjoyed my afternoon wandering up here on Friday and knew there was more to see. So, another cable car ride up to Soprabolzano.

First stop: lunch (in the only restaurant open for two miles).

Minestrone Soup

Next stop: The start of the Freud Promenade.

In a letter dated February 1911, Sigmund Freud told Carl Gustav Jung “Next summer I need a place where I can be alone with a forest nearby”.

Along the Promenade

On Friday, the 14th of April, he left Vienna in the company of his friend and pupil Sandor Ferenczi and made a tour lasting just six days to find a suitable place around Trento and Bolzano, choosing the Renon Platuea above the city. On the 9th of July, Freud set off from Karlsbad, where he was staying to recover from a bout of ‘American colitis’, and joined his family at Collalbo, where he spent the evenings walking.

Where is Heidi?

The Freud Promenade is a route that links Collabo and Soprabolzano.

Storm Clouds Building

On the 6th of March 2006 – the 150th birthday of Sigmund Freud – the promenade was reopened again, mended and repaired. It was completed in 2016 with the installation of 13 benches and rest areas designed by architects David and Verena Messner.

Not your average park bench

The walk takes you through woodlands and pastures, passing traditional alpine chalets and more modern takes on the designs. All were painted white with brightly varnished wooden decoration. Once in Collalbo the houses were yellow, still with a German style that made me feel like I’d accidentally stumbled into the Black Forest. There were flowerbeds everywhere – whether vertically in the walls or at street level.

Freud didn’t want this trip to end

One coffee later and I was heading back to Soprabolzano on another woodland path.

As I type, I’ve had to take shelter from another rainstorm. It’s as heavy as the downpour in Desenzano.  I may be here a while.

Don’t send help.

All is Well
Categories: Bolzano, Italy, Lock Down, Public Health, Public Transport, The Italian Job, Travel, VaccinationTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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