While in Innsbruck, Austria, we realized we were only 15 miles from the northern border of Italy. A small group of us decided to take advantage of our one free afternoon and take a train ride across the border. Not knowing much about northern Italy, unable to leave until after lunch, and needing to return in time for our 11pm curfew, we settled on Bressanone/Brixen in the province of Bolzano as the destination for our brief excursion.

We arrived at the train station in the pouring rain and had trouble getting directions into the center of town due to language differences. In our parade of umbrellas, we crossed the same river 4 times on different bridges before stopping at a hotel for guidance and map. Eventually we wandered into the main square where everything was closed.

Eventually we stopped in a café for coffee & gelato and found some non-Italian English speakers who gave us recommendations for where to eat. We found a delicious-looking restaurant that unfortunately did not open until 6pm. The problem was that we needed to return to the train station at 6:45pm. At 5:45pm we perused the menus and at 6 on the dot, we placed our orders. At this point, I’m positive the owner of the establishment thought we were very strange (even for Americans). While we waited for the main dishes, we enjoyed fresh bread and small meat salads that were “gifts from the kitchen”. Before any of us had finished our course, we asked for the bill and ordered dessert “to go”. If you’ve ever traveled in Europe, you can only imagine the strange looks we received on making our requests.

After settling the bill and receiving our tiramisu container, we set off at a very brisk walk to the train station at 6:40pm. Approximately 30 meters from the station, the same guy who lost his passport at the very beginning of IBI realized he left his wallet at the restaurant and he ran back to retrieve it. Once we were all on our train & accounted for, the ride back through the mountains was relaxing & enjoyable.

The Highlights

Eating authentic Italian tiramisu on the train out of a giant Philadelphia cream cheese container. Wandering around an old, wooden church. Train ride through, around & over the mountains. Enjoying some absolutely incredible Italian pasta. Sharing so much laughter. Gelato. Nearly missing a train transfer that we didn’t know we needed on the journey back to Innsbruck. Discounted return train tickets.

The Remarkable

We were not in a touristy part of the country, which meant that finding people who spoke English was much harder than we had experienced on our trip thus far. The occasional communication problems that we had on our day trip to Italy made me appreciate internationally-recognized hand gestures & see the need for always traveling with a pocket guide of common phrases in the local language.


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