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Day 12: Merano

Today we decided to go on a day trip to the nearby town of Merano. We had changed trains in Merano on Monday as we travelled between Zernez and Bolzano, and stopped in the town centre to get some lunch. It looked like a really pretty place and it is less than an hour away from Bolzano on the train, so we wanted to return and explore further.

The first thing we saw when we got off the train was this enormous monument which looked like it might be some sort of war memorial.


When we investigated it more closely, we found that it had been erected in 1914 to celebrate 100 years of Tyrol being returned to Austria after it had been ruled by the Italians and the Bavarians during the Napoleonic Wars. The man in the statue is Andreas Hofer, who led the Tyrolean Rebellion against the occupying forces. We have noticed streets named after him in Bolzano and Merano as well.

We walked past the monument, into the main town centre with its pretty colourful streets.


Merano seemed like a very prosperous town. There were some very expensive-looking hotels and food/wine on the restaurant menus seemed significantly more expensive than elsewhere in Italy too; it could almost have been Switzerland! The town originally gained popularity with tourists as a spa resort, and so it boasts an elaborate Kurhaus.


There were lots of other ornate buildings and towers dotted around the town centre too.


We walked through a little gate into the narrow streets of the old town.


We soon found the origin of the clock tower we had seen in the distance; it belonged to the Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus. The church was so enormous that it was difficult to fit it all into one photo.



Another gate took us out of the old town and onto a road which led towards the Passer river, which runs through the town.


We were amazed by how quickly the river was flowing. You definitely wouldn't want to fall in!


There was lots of interesting architecture along the riverbanks...


...as well as a path which led us through what seemed to be a botanical garden.


We found some rather unusual sculptures there. There was a gigantic eagle...


...Atlas with the world on his shoulders and a woodpecker to keep him company...


...and a rather hairy snake.


As we walked further up the river bank the path came to an abrupt end at a bridge. It wasn't hard to see why; the river was emerging from a rocky gorge and flowing even faster than before.


We crossed the bridge and started walking down the opposite river bank. We were rewarded with some beautiful views back towards the town.



There were some amazing views of the mountains above Merano too.



Merano was a lovely destination and we would definitely like to return, although I expect it might be a pricey place to stay. Once again, it felt culturally very Austrian and although we had lunch in a pizzeria, the serving staff greeted us with "Grüss Gott" and "Servus" and the drinks menu featured Apfelschorle and German beers. Definitely a unique place to visit :)


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