Today we were up before light rose above the mountains. Our travels today would take us from Seefeld, Austria through the Brenner Pass into Italy.
According to our guide Mary, the Brenner Pass is a mountain pass through the Alps along the border between Italy and Austria and is one of the principal passes through the Alps.
We encountered intermittent rain during the early portion of our morning ride. We spent a bit of time going through Innsbruck as our guide gave a brief history of the area. We could not go down many streets because they were too narrow for the tour bus.
We did, however, get a feel for the city as we drove by the St. Jacob’s Cathedral and other important structures. As I have seen so many times now on our travels through Europe, the buildings are so beautifully adorned with wonderful grill work, flowers and frescoes.
On our way to the Brenner Pass we passed many scenic pastoral areas and tree covered mountain ranges. It was beautiful seeing a beautiful pastoral scene with the majestic Alps, blue sky and wispy clouds as its backdrop. We traveled over many bridges and through many mountain tunnels. We would come out of a tunnel then to a bridge suspended high above a gorge.
As we crossed into Italy, Randy noticed the lines of trucks heading into Austria. “I remember Mary saying that the trucks are limited by number based on the pollution levels and if they did not make it through the border into Austria on Friday, they would have to wait until Monday to cross into Austria”.
The line of trucks went on for at least 20 miles, it was an amazing sight. What amazed Randy is that Europe has very little freight cars on the rails. “I imagine if they did this, there would be less traffic on the roads and less pollution to worry about especially as all the trains I saw were electric,” Randy said.
We were now in Tuscany and riding through a beautiful valley that seemed to go on forever sprinkled with castles from different times in history. Our guide explained that after WWI this valley which was originally a part of Austria was given through treaty to Italy.
The closer we got to Florence we saw many, many tree nurseries. We passed the cities of Moderna and Florence and entered the city of Montecatini, our final destination for the day.
We arrived in the Italian town of Montecatini late in the afternoon. Again, so many of the streets of were narrow making it necessary for bus to let us off a bit of a walk from our home for the next three days, Hotel la Pia.
We had a little time before dinner so Randy and I took a short walk to a street market that Mary told us about. We walked around for a bit then settled down at a small sidewalk café called the Happy Bar. Love the name.
We asked the owner what the local beer was and ordered two glasses. While we were sitting and enjoying the afternoon, I noticed a couple behind us, who were also enjoying cold glasses of beer, but noticed that the owner was pouring something into the beer.
Curious, I went to the table, introduced myself and asked what the liquid being poured into the beer was. The owner said it was Grenadine. I looked at everyone and said, “Really”. I had never heard of anyone putting grenadine into beer.
She offered me a sip which I accepted and found it to be too sweet for my taste. We laughed and I went back to my table. The couple left but returned a little later and sat with us and had another beer. Our French was very limited as was their English but we managed to have a great time anyway.
We returned to the hotel and had a wonderful dinner then retired.
Tomorrow we head to Florence for a tour of the city.