After celebrating Dad's birthday last night we had a slow start to the morning before deciding to catch a train to Merano. Tim and I had been to Merano when we first came to this part of Italy in 2015, but couldn't remember too much about it beyond a general impression that it was a really pretty place and that we'd walked in some sort of garden with sculptures of animals.
Merano is only around 40 minutes away from Bolzano on a regional train, so before too long we'd arrived at the train station there. The first thing we saw when we came out of the station was this statue of Andreas Hofer, a local Tyrolean folk hero.
From the station it was a walk of 20 minutes or so into the centre of Merano. The river Passer flows through the town and it's a gorgeous river, with beautifully clear water.
Merano used to be a spa town and there's an impressive Kurhaus building down by the river.
The flower display in front of it was really lovely.
I also loved this square, complete with a few little palm trees.
And I was particularly impressed by this flower display of a peacock!
The river is crossed by lots of different bridges.
We were actually trying to stay on one side of it, but every time we got to a bridge I couldn't resist walking across it to see the view.
As we made our way along the river we could see that in some places it was flowing incredibly fast.
After a while we reached an old stone bridge.
The views were really good from here too.
Before too long we'd reached the park we remembered from our 2015 visit.
I definitely remember this colourful woodpecker!
This hairy snake looked familiar too.
We ended up crossing the river here and following a trail on the opposite side.
From where we were walking we could see what looked like ruins of a castle high on a rock above the river...
...as well as a more modern tower in the distance.
The path we followed took us through the forest, which was nice and shady on a hot day, though didn't give us many views of the river.
At one point we passed this slightly concerning sign!
Luckily we didn't encounter any explosions, but continued on towards some beautiful orchards.
After a while we emerged in a clearing, where there seemed to be a picnic spot beside a small lake.
We were feeling peckish by this point, so decided to turn around and head back to the centre of Merano.
We found a nice restaurant to get some lunch and then explored some of the bookshops in the centre of Merano.
Then there was just time for a final stroll up and down the promenades...
...and a final look at the views of the mountains...
...before catching the train back to Bolzano