by Charlotte Holm.
Our Medieval group Miles Rafenstain et Servitus was in Bozen in South Tyrol from the 16th to the 23rd of April 2011. It takes about 14 hours travelling by car from Sakskøbing, Denmark to reach Bozen. Therefore we had to get up at three in the morning on Saturday, to arrive at our borrowed house outside Schloss Maretsch at about 19 in the evening the same day.
First thing we did when we arrived at Bozen the 16th of April, was to rush directly to our regular haunt Paulaner. Paulaner is by the way an italian restaurant. I´m sure ”Le Chef” Christian, and his waiters got a very big surprise, because we arrived in South Tyrol in April instead of October, as we´ve done the last few years. Of course they asked us if we wanted some ”Citronella”, a lemon snaps. They usually treat us with that. Paulaner can be highly recommended to first-time travellers in Bozen.
Schloss Runkelstein, not far from either Schloss Maretsch or Schloss Rafenstein,was preparing an exhihition by the name of ”Krieg, Wucher und Aberglaube-Hans Vintler und die Blumen der Tugend”. In english it could be translated to ”War, Money lenders and Superstition- Hans Vintler and the Flowers of Vertue”. Runkelstein has some of the most well-preserved frescoes from the Middle Ages, and its really worth the visit for everyone who has a passion for history. You can sureley say the same about Schloss Maretsch and Schloss Rafenstein, but Rafenstein isn´t yet open to the public, because the ruin is under restoration. Hans Vintler´s books are quite well-preserved, you can still see the original colours of the drawings.
Most of the Sunday our group was busy on Runkelstein. Here we showed our different crafts and skills to the vistitors of the castle. The whole week, lizards were swarming Runkelstein. Those are animals that Danes are not particularly used to meet on their way. Perhaps on the heaths of Jutland, I don´t know about that really, I do not live in the country. But these lizards were so tame they came really close, and almost jumped up into the sewing kit, into Sir Rafenstain´s money chest and under the skirts of the ladies!
When you´re on a trip to Bozen, you´re not supposed to sleep long hours in the morning. That´s why, I think, we were woken up at 6 O´clock in the morning every day, by a very merrily whistling gardener who walked the path outside our windows. An alarm clock was quite unnecessary!
On Monday the 18th of April we took a stroll into town. Here was an Easter Market with all kinds of artistic goodies. Hand-made puppets made of foam rubber that loooked so very lifelike, that they did resemble the artist himself. There were also a pair of funny cats made of papier maché, who grinned like the Cheshire Cat, lucky dragons made of ribbed velvet, funny T-shirts, wheel-made wood bowls and a very fairy-tale like and charming collection of ink drawings, giving you the wildest imaginations.
Later that day we made a trip to Schloss Rafenstain where we met with Reinhold Haller from the Medieval group Niedertor und Gefolge, and Armin Torggler who is the trustee of Schloss Runkelstein and Dr. cand. mag. in archaeology. Armin showed us around the ruins of the castle, which have actually become less ruins since the restoration, and less over-grown by trees.
We ate our lunch at the farmer´s who owns Schloss Rafenstain. After that we went to the market in Bozen again to buy the rest of the artists ink drawings. No, that isn´t true, but almost slightly true...
Tuesday half of us went to the Ötzi-museum. Ötzi is a human from the ice age- not the DJ- who were found up in the Dolomittian mountains. He has hardly been a shaman as the exhibition claims, when we have no knowlegde if there was anyone called shamans at that time. Maybe everyone in that period were carrying religious items upon their bodies, when they were alone in the wilderness.
I have to warn you that even if you´re a student, you do not get any reduced price tickets when
you´re over the age of 27, as you do normally in Denmark or Germany for instance.
The exhibition was a bit disappointing on my behalf, because it only contained Ötzi and his belongings, there were neither any animals from the past or discoveries from the Medieval period.
After the museum two of us went to the cathedral discovering a sermon run by laymen. There wasn´t a priest, but a civilian, preaching.
In the evening the exhibition ”Krieg, Wucher und Aberglaube-Hans Vintler und die Blumen der Tugend” was officially opened after a lot of stress on the staff of Schloss Runkelstein´s behalf to get it ready in time. The Lord Mayor, vice-mayor, Helmut Rizolli, who is a town councillor and an active member of the committee in Gesellschaft Bozner Burgen, Armin Torggler, and a pair of professors (one of them only spoke in italian) were making a speech. Charles Rafenstain, the leader of Miles Rafenstain et Servitus, were asked to make a small speech by Rizolli, which I think he hadn´t foreseen. But he did it quite well. The rest of the group were standing behind him at the platform, and did indeed look quite decorative. We were presented as ”the danish group”.
After the speeches, some appetizers came on the table for the visitors, the speakers and so forth, from the excellent kitchen at Schloss Runkelstein. That afternoon we also became aquainted with a small scorpion sitting and feeling comfotable on one of the walls outside. Luckily nobody got stung, and the scorpions in South Tyrol only has a sting as dangerous as one of a bee.
Wednesday the group went seeing the renaissance castle called Churburg. The castle has got a huge collection of weapons. The knights have mostly been between 155-160 cm high, but one of the royal´s armour was made for a man being the height of 2,10 m! That was very unusual at the time.
On the walls were some funny paintings of different animals from fables on the wall. Quite the way Æsop could have imagined them. We spend the evening in the delightful company of Niedertor und Gefolge in a very dark winecellar, only lit by candlelight. They had made an exquisite dinner for everyone, with plenty of white and red wine (lots of it, in fact!). Songs were sung with bravour, and the group of Niedertor were eminent learning danish words; we were maybe not that good with the italian. In between us all we spoke a mixture of german and english, but it was great fun learning a little bit of foreign language. And, yes we have learned a bit of south tyrolean phrases, thanks to Charles Rafenstain, and a small south tyrolean pocket dictionary.
Thursday we took some time seeing the exhibition at Runkelstein. We got a song on the brain, played over and over again at the exhibition, and just couldn´t let it go. Most of us were in our medieval costumes that day. On the way to Runkelstein we met a small baby adder.( Sorry the excitement, but I´m not used to see such an animal in my back yard).
In the evening we celebrated the 28th birthday of one of our female members of the group at Paulaners. Le Chef thought she was 18 years old. Very flattering. He had made two ice cream gateaus. The one had a mini fire-work in it and glow-in-the-dark numbers (spelling 28). The evening was very pleasant and cheerful, as the evening before, naturally.
Friday we went to Runkelstein. A cardinal and an abbot came all the way from the Vatican in Rome to visit the castle. They were very nice and very interested in our group and the castle. It was an experience out of the everyday ordinary.
Saturday morning we were out before the gardener did whistle his merry song, literally speaking. Not the shadow of him. He must have had a day off or something. We went from Schloss Maretsch at 6.30 after having said our goodbyes to the charming lady next door, Johanna, and her sweet dog, Luna.
It had been a week with the usual warm-heartedness of the South Tyroleans that we value so much.
South Tyrol is both beautiful, very warm and romantic in the spring. It´s worth the long travel. And yes, not to sound like a cliché, there are some folks here wearing Tyrolean hats and Lederhosen. It has it´s own personal charm. I tell you, you would definitely want wearing one!