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Contemporary Resistance in Bozen

A responsible tourism guided tour

by Patrizio Roversi

Download the app ArtWalks and discover Bozen with a digital guided tour: your smartphone will get in real time your geo tag and give you some instant tips.

First step Via dei Portici. The virtual guide says: «Buongiorno-Hallo! That is the first thing you hear when entering in the shops under Bozen’s porticoes. This double greeting is obliged, so that both Italian and German speaking customers can understand. Nowadays citizen are almost bilingual, but once the German and the Italian cultures were strictly divided, culturally and physically.» 

Bolzano

Courtesy Azienda Soggiorno e Turismo

Since the Middle Age, Bozen and South Tyrol were a connection zone between the Germanic and the Mediterranean worlds. A place of trade in goods and stuff, but also a place of cultural exchanges.  A border and a gate, a clash of cultures. The next step of our tour is Palazzo Mercantile (i.e. trade building), testifying this trading vocation of Bozen.

Then Walther square, dedicated to the 1200 German poet Walther von der Vogelweide. This is the square where the famous Christmas Markets take place. Not far, on the Sant’Osvaldo walking path, you can visit another great building: the Schlossl Mill, from 1180. A symbol of the encounter between the medieval city, the country and the mountain. The farmers used to come and give their cereals to the miller, then the baker came. Bozen’s bakery tradition is great and I love really much their sixty or more types of bread. They basically change in the amount and kind of rye and in the different spices, herbs or seeds on them (cumin, sasame, coriander, fennel, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed). Just to mention some kinds of bread: chuttelbrot, puccia, paarl, pindl, dreierle and the famous brezel.

Bozen at Christmas

Bozen at Christmas, pic by Flickr User Jim Hedd – Historic Mysteries

Walking along Via dei Bottai (i.e. Bottai street), you have to look up and notice the inns & restaurants’ old signs. We are in the neighborhood of welcoming, some kind of meeting point for travelers and traders, pilgrims and citizens. It is no coincidence that today most of the hotels are around here. Walk along on Weggestein street, visit the St George Church, then take Piave street and turn right on the bridge on the little river Talvera. You meet Piazza Vittoria (i.e. Victory square), in what sense? What victory? The one of Italian people against the Austrian-German. Recently the main Fascist monument of this square (not so appreciated by the independents of South Tyrol) has been turned into a museum.

Beyond the little river, following a cycling path parallel to the water flow, you reach a suburb of public housing that will impress you. Totally different from the common idea of outskirt, it is a green and tidy neighborhood. Along the riverside, it is a continuous park, full of people walking, running and cycling. The old Fascist building have been turned into educational centres, pools, sportive facilites. During the Fascist era learning German was forbidden, South Tyrol citizen must not even speak it. German teachers had to give lessons to children hidden inside some catacombs. Today Bozen is a very civil and tidy city, but the consequences of this struggle had been significant until not so long ago. Nowadays Donald Trump use to say “America first”, Ms Le Pen in France says “French people first”. You know, in Italy Mussolini used to say “The italians first” and it is unvelievable to hear this slogan again around here!

The virtual guided tour goes on to Piazza Matteotti, where we attend an event called Festival delle Resistenze (i.e. Resistences Festival, a network of contemporary resistences) taking place every year in April (save the date: April 23/25th 2018). Two days of events, shows, concerts, debates, tours and itineraries in Bozen and nearby. The themes are mostly connections, travels, identity. Interesting contents and joyful atmosphere, but it is crowded just with Italian speaking people. Where are the German speaking ones? In Bozen the coexistance is easy and paceful, but the groups live often quite separated.

Tourism means relations, connections, experiences and meetings. Bozen fits perfect, maybe throughout a “conscious and responsible” tour as I suggested!

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Patrizio Roversi

Accidental tourist. His main passions while traveling: anthropology, economy, lifestyle, food and taste

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