Sun Kissed Gems


Today we got on the regional train, paid a return fare of five Euros and after riding through a fairytale land of medieval castles and fortresses overlooking sprawling apple orchards, we arrived in Merano after a smooth forty minute ride. With the snow capped Dolomites looming in the distance, Bob and I caught the bus outside of the Merano train station. While strangers smiled at us on the ride to the city center, I reflected on the fact that all over Europe you can basically go anywhere you like without owning a car adding a bit of zest to your travel. Regional trains, intercity speed trains, public buses and city trams and undergrounds take you to any destinations of your choice with the absence of stress and worry. What a great way to travel.
Nestled in a basin surrounded by 3,335 m (11,000 feet) tall mountains, this popular spa resort of about 35,000 is favored with a mild climate and known for its wines, vineyards and delicious apples that are exported throughout Europe. Throughout the years several scientists, literary people, and artists have made Merano their home. But one of the most famous guest of this sun kissed city was the Austrian Empress Elizabeth, affectionately known as Sissi, who holidayed twice in Merano for several months in the 19th century at the Castle Trauttmannsdorff. Back then Merano was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until it was annexed and given to Italy after World War I.
Like Bolzano, Merano boasts a lovely pedestrian zone with charming street cafes, restaurants and fancy store fronts. After a yummy cappuccino and warm apple strudel, Bob and I climbed on another bus up to Castle Trauttmannsdorff. The most popular tourist attraction in town along with the Botanical Gardens that opened in 2001. And so, like the thousands of tourists descending on the castle grounds every year, we drove past grand villas and noble residences  behind iron wrought fences before we climbed towards the imperial castle gleaming on the hill like a crown.  We entered the gardens of the former royal residence through an arched walkway covered with vines. Ambling along terraced pathways, we admired exotic flowers and plants as well as local plants, herbs and fruit trees.  As I savored the fragrant air on our way down to the Lilly pond, a beautiful maze nestled into this natural amphitheater caught my attention but the pull of the Palm cafe skirting the Lilly pond was stronger.  And so Bob and I headed for another cappuccino and enjoyed the spectacular views of this exotic Mediterranean landscape  against enchanting mountain vistas.


One response »

  1. Looks and sounds wonderful!! Beautiful, so happy you are having this trip of a life time. The weather seems to be lovely for you!! Anxious to hear how the cruise is going.

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