Sunday, 10 June 2012

Northern Italy

Arco is a comune in the autonomous province of Trento in Italy. This was our destination on a recent Italian Getaways Holiday over the Christmas break.

Tourism thrives in this area, particularly Windsurfing, on nearby Lago di Garda and rock climbing. The town is surrounded on one side by sheer limestone cliffs jutting up like a wall protecting it and its ancient hilltop castle. Worldcup climbing competions are held in the towns outdoor artificial wall. MTB (mountainbiking) is popular in the town and its environs and international bikers flock here. Mainly Germans, who ascend over the Austrian Brenner Pass. Opposite the castle is a wide green valley full of vines and citrus fruits.

The town also has aggro-chemical plants lining the river Sarca (fiume sarca) towards the Lake. Our hotel was called the Villa Della Rose, a four star establishment close to the centre of Arco. During this trip we had time to visit Arco, Venice, Bolzano and the Christmas markets, Lake Garda and Verona.

The city thrives on a mix of old and new high-quality intensive agriculture (including wine, fruit and dairy products), tourism, traditional handicraft (wood, ceramics) and advanced services. Heavy industry (machinery, automotive, steel) installed during the 1930's has now been mostly dismanteled. On the downside, the local economy is very dependent on the public sector, and especially the autonomous province government.

The city's Italian-Austrian character, enhanced by the narrow cobblestone streets, Habsburg-era churches and pervasive bilingual signage give it the unique flavour of a city at crossroads between Italian and Austrian cultures. This, and its natural and cultural attractions make it a renowned tourist destination.

This is a delightful and picturesque city with a wonderful Christmas market. Take a look at the photo albums to view the narrow streets and striking architecture. The shopping arcade with its many unique boutiques is well worth a visit.

The Ice Man
Otzi was found by two German tourists, Helmut and Erika Simon, on September 19, 1991. The body was at first thought to be a modern corpse, like several others which had been recently found in the region. It was roughly recovered by the Austrian authorities and taken to Innsbruck, where its true age was finally discovered. Subsequent surveys showed in October 1991 that the body had been located 92,56 meters inside Italian territory. It is available to be seen since 1998 at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy.

Venice, (Italian: Venezia, Venetian: Venexia) is the capital of the region of Veneto and the province of the same name in Italy. Its population is 271,663 (census estimate January 1, 2004). The city is included, with Padua (Padova), in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area, population 1,600,000. It has the nickname, "Queen of the Adriatic" and "City of Water".

The Venetian Republic was a major sea power and a staging area for the Crusades, as well as a very important centre of commerce (especially the spice trade) and art in the Renaissance.

Venice is world-famous for its canals. It is built on an archipelago of 118 islands formed by about 150 canals in a shallow lagoon. The islands on which the city is built are connected by about 400 bridges. In the old center, the canals serve the function of roads, and every form of transport is on water or on foot. In the 19th century a causeway to the mainland brought a railway station to Venice, and an automobile causeway and parking lot was added in the 20th century. Beyond these land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains, as it was in centuries past, entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe's largest urban carfree area, unique in Europe in remaining a sizable functioning city in the 21st century entirely without motorcars or trucks.

The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, although it is now mostly used for tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies. Most Venetians now travel by motorised waterbuses ("vaporetti") which ply regular routes along the major canals and between the city's islands.

Lake Garda
Lake Garda (Italian Lago di Garda or Benaco) is the largest lake in Italy. It is located in Northern Italy, about half-way between Venice and Milan. It is in an alpine region and was formed by glaciers at the end of the last ice age. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the provinces of Verona (to the south-east), Brescia (south-west), and Trento (north). The lake is a major tourist destination, with a number of hotels and resorts along its shore.

Verona is an ancient town, episcopal see, and province in Veneto, Northern Italy. The ancient town and the center of the modern city are in a loop of the Adige River near Lake Garda. Because of this position, the areas saw regular floodings until 1956, when the Mori-Torbole tunnel was constructed, providing 500 cubic meters of discharge from the Adige river to the Garda lake in case of flood danger. The tunnel reduced the risk of floodings from once every seventy years to once every two centuries.

While the population of Verona has historically been predominantly Italian, in years past, the make-up of the population has changed due to recent waves of immigration, immigrants and temporary guestworkers from around the world have made Verona their home. As of a 2005 census, 7.9% of the population (approximately 20,000 people) have been identified as non-Italian, with many immigrants originating from areas such as Eastern Europe, North Africa, and South Asia.

This was a 5 day tour or this area of Northern Italy. An extra day in Arco would have been nice but at the expense of the trip to Verona which we would have hated to miss. Along the way back from Verona we called in at a local wine factory. The wine from this region is exceptionally good as are the olives. Local cheese and salami is also worth buying. We packed a lot in and saw a good deal of this beautiful area of Italy. Lake Garda is spectacular against its mountain back drop. On the way back I took a photo of the mountains which provided such a scenic backdrop to the towns and cities along route. I would recommend this trip with some slight reservations about the hotel which was definately not a four star by any normal European standards.

Photos of Northern Italy


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