Piazza Walthar and duomo
Cured meat stall in Piazza Erbe
Medieval castle near the passeggiata
Bolzano coat of arms

The weather can be spectacolo

Mad scientist

Well this wouldn't be an English speaking blog without a discussion about the weather, although in my experience Italians can more than match the English in this subject. Now on my way here last winter my guide book confidently reassured me that Bolzano is a sun trap, sheltered from the elements by the monster hills that surround it.

Hmmmmmm........

I suspect the writer didn't stay too long and perhaps obtained the information from the local tourist office which admittedly also claims that San Gennaio has over 300 days of sunshine per year. Certainly not this year thats for sure.

This year does however seem to be an exception so lets not be cynical. One thing is for certain though, in the summer months it is hot, often very hot and sometimes far too hot and the majority of days do include a good healthy serving of sun and clear skies even in winter. Many people from further South in Italy had warned me that Bolzano would be cold and yes it is cold when compared to the surface of the sun. It really doesn't need to be any warmer unless you enjoy sitting fully clothed in a sauna all day. Renon meanwhile is a refreshing escape from the humidity of the city, but still hot as my chubby sun burned legs can testify.

So yes there is sun and yes it is hot, that is undeniable. However the region is not lush green with forest, apple orchards (covered with nets to protect them from hailstone) and vineyards because of sun alone. Quite often there is more than a drop of rain and when it comes, it all seems to come at once much like a rush for a ryanair gate opening instead of an orderly, civilized shower. Bolzano is not alone in this regard as while living in Rome a downpour could be quite unlike anything I had experienced before, defeating any umbrella offered in futile protection. I've not experienced a real monsoon, but its as close as it gets.

But what does make Bolzano different is the spectacle that can accompany a deluge. As a local friend affirmed, Bolzano becomes a cauldron of heat just waiting to explode. As soon as the evening winds arrive, the trapped heated air is forced up the sides of local mountains into the colder atmosphere above resulting in a real disagreement between the gods. If I were in Schloss Runkelstein during such a storm, I'd be concerned I were about to become a tasty treat for a local vampire or the next experiment subject for a mad scientist. Horror film producers need look no further. I'd always wondered why lightning flashed every few seconds in classic horror flicks and now I know why. In the mountains that's exactly what happens. At least here it does.