Subject: Innsbruck

last week I spent a long weekend (Friday to Sunday) in Innsbruck. It is an old and well preserved town among the Austrian Alps, on the road leading south from Central Europe to Italy across the mountains. It's much smaller than Salzburg or Wien, but its churches and museums can be proud of their masterpieces. Its location is a small plain surrounded by high mountains which are a paradise for both climbers and skiers. In early September the weather was clear and cool, the mountain slopes still green but the peaks covered by a layer of fresh snow. The town was full of tourists, many Americans and Japanese, all gathering in the little square in front of the most famous monument, the Golden Roof. It is the roof of a balcony covered by a thin layer of golden foils, a tribute to the wealth of the city under the Hapsburg empire. Among many monuments and museums, a special place is held by Hofkirche, the church of the palace, whose central nave hosts the cenotaph of Emperor Maximilian 1st (15th century), surrounded by over 20 giant statues of kings and queens. The black bronze statues are about two times the real size and the characters are both from history (Austrian princes) and from legend (King Arthur). The details of armors and vests are quite impressive and the serious look of the statues can be frightening. Just 3 miles outside of town lies the castle of Ambras, rebuilt in Renaissance looks, with one of the world's largest collection of tournament and battle armors. It also hosts one of the first modern museums, the Cabinet of Wonders, where heavy 16th century oak displays hold an amazing collection of natural (like corals or shells) and artificial (precious crafts) wonders.

Like everywhere in Austria, hospitality is at his best at the inns and restaurants, often housed in very old building. We slept at Hotel Neue Post , a Best Western hotel in a turn-of-the-century building just off the pedestrian area. The hall and rooms are carefully decorated; our room had red and gold velvets on the walls and curtains. The only thing I found inadequate for a 4-star hotel was the surprisingly limited breakfast buffet! The price was average: I paid an Internet tariff of about 135 usd per night plus 25 usd for reserved parking.

We had two great dinners to be remembered, at cosy candlelight restaurants in the heart of the old town. The first was at Ottoburg in Herzog Friedrich Strasse and the second one, just in front of it, at the Goldener Adler, which is also a hotel. Both buildings are so old they are mentioned on tourbooks as places to be seen, so you can imagine the atmosphere. The food was equally superb, traditional Austrian from appetizers to desserts, both tasteful and well served. The price is adequate to the level of the restaurant, about 25 usd per person, but when you enjoy it all the time, who cares... A funny note: in both places we were the only Italians in a room full of American people! Maybe our fellow countrymen had all stopped at McDonald's.

I also realized globalization now doesn't only means the ever-present McDonalds, but even a Hooters restaurant in the main square!

Bye all

Paolo Trieste, Italy