Subject: Italy: Bergamo, Mantova and South Tyrol
Hi Ziners,

a few weeks ago we went to Northern Italy to do some hiking in South Tyrol/Alto Adige and added visits to Bergamo Alta and Mantova.

Bergamo Alta is a nice hill town surrounded by huge walls. In Berga Alta we stayed at Hotel San Lorenzo http://www.hotelsanlorenzobg.it/ Ask for a room in the first floor and not facing the Piazza if you consider to stay there. At Bar Donizetti Sonja and I shared our Degustazione di Salumi and Degustazione di Formaggi with each other. That way we were able to taste a dozen types of sausages, hams and cheese. The amount of food was enough for us. At the same place we bought some sausages of the kind we had liked most. At the Idea Boutique in Via Colleoni, 22 we found some nice figurines representing the characters of the commedia dell'arte (which had been invented at Bergamo). The two ladies who own the Boutique were really cute.

We went to Mantova on a day-trip from South Tyrol. Mantova is surrounded by three lakes, formed by the Mincio river which exits the Garda lake. Mantova has beautiful squares, Palazzi and Churches. The main attraction is Palazzo Ducale, the palace of the Gonzaga family since 1328. At the entrace of the second room there was an indication that you could ask for a free guide. We did and we got one! A kind Italian lady gave us very interesting and vivid explanations of the most important part of the 34,000 square meter/500 rooms palace complex (in Italian language).

We had an excellent lunch at L'Ochina bianca in Via Finzi, about a 10 minutes walk away from the Palazzo Ducale. Mantova can be visited in one day, however, it's beautiful squares seem to invite you to sit down and stay there when the busy day life has become quiet, an invitation we will follow next time.

In South Tyrol we stayed for the rest of the week as usual in an apartment in Deutschnofen /Nova Ponente (car recommended) at Haus Ute http://tinyurl.com/uawl at 1,350 meters above sea level. We were the only guests at that time of the year. It was cold and foggy when we arrived. Then it started to snow for 24 hours and after that we had 30 cm of snow and 90 kilometers of panorama view.

With our apartment offering a wood stove and readily cut wood it was fun (but not really necessary) to start a fire when it became cold in the evening... Hiking in the snow was big fun. Excellent food was available at Ristorante Adler http://tinyurl.com/uaxt where Walter Zelger offers a great variety of Tyrolian and Italian dishes.

Best Regards Johannes Haltern am See, Germany