As I've mentioned before none of our travel plans here ever quite come off as I've mapped them out. Since late January we've planned to head up to Salzburg for the Pfingsten weekend - that would be Whitsun to my Anglican friends, Pentecost to others . This is the second year of Riccardo Muti's Neapolitan-themed music festival and based on Opera Chic's report on last year's event it's worth the detour for fans of slightly obscure classical music. Also Laurent has never been to Salzburg and I haven't been since 1978 so it would be a chance to visit/revisit a fascinating city.
Plan A was to drive, but rather than the 9 hour direct drive we were going to take our time. Do it in stages, a stop in San Marino and Padova on the way up and Trieste and Modena on the way back. That was before Laurent was taken out by acute bronchial asthma during our trip last week to the Veneto. He's feeling much better after five days in bed and our doctor has cleared him to go away but the course of 5 pills twice a day has us a bit uneasy about him at the wheel of a car for long distances. So why don't you drive asks you? Well to be honest I don't feel that my reflexes are good enough to drive here in Rome or much of Italy for that matter. I just can't handle the constant gnat-like swarm of motos and even 5 years of Montreal driving hasn't prepared me for the aggressiveness of Italian drivers. So for the safety of all I restrict my driving to a turn around the parking lot!
So Friday I started working on Plan B and once again grappled with the dreaded TrenItalia website - I know I should just give up but I'll be damned if I'll let a website defeat me. Since we had two weeks we didn't want to just head up to Salzburg and back so again we planned a trip in stages but this time it took a bit more work. Though there are no border crossing here in the EU, there are invisible protection barriers - it is not possible to book a Innsbruck-Salzburg train on the TrenItalia website and this time it isn't TrenItalia's fault. For anything out of home-country you have to go to a travel agent or the train station. By the time we got all our hotels booked and itinerary figured out all the agencies were closed for the weekend, so we headed off to Termini and the International booking desk. The very pleasant man there was more than happy to make the reservations for us but.... but.... he couldn't book the Innsbruck-Salzburg portions, we'd have to do that in Austria! There was not point in asking why then the website instructions to go to the train station for International tickets - just smile, give him the credit card and take the tickets. There are 25 trains a day between the two so I'm sure we'll get there somehow.
The plan - as always subject to last minute changes - is now Rome to Salzburg with a two day stop in Trento in the Dolomites, staying at Agritur Maso Wallenburg for a few days then on to Salzburg for the Festival. While in Salzburg the cast and crew of Hobbs-Beaulieu productions will be staying at the lovely Hotel Stein . It was where I stayed on my first trip to Salzburg in 1969. Back then the Stein had the look of a slightly past-it matron who still tried to get tarted up for Festival time. I had a small single room with a washbasin, bath down the hall (5 Shillings extra - now how did that stick in my mind?) and the WC next door. But there was an incredible view across the river to Hohensalzburg Fortress and the Altstadt. I remember one night sitting at the window watching a wild thunderstorm in the mountains behind the Fortress - it was worthy of a James Whale .
The Stein has been turned into a "boutique" hotel - baths are en-suite and, if the website is to be believed - rooms are spacious. But just in case I've made sure that we booked a room with a view!
On the way back the train schedule pretty much forces us to stop over in Innsbruck for a day on our way to Verona. A few days in Verona, of course we'll take a look at the spurious Juliet balcony, should help us adjust to being back in Italy after the cool Austrian Alps. Then back home to Roma and that's the last trip for a while.
The above picture of Salzburg Altstadt was taken by Thomas Pinatric and published on Wikipedia. I think it is a truly remarkable photo. Looking at it brought that thunderstorm in 1969 to mind.
04 maggio - Ascensione di Nostro Signor