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Bolzano's diverse daily market


Nearly every city in Europe has an open market tradition baked deep in the city's DNA, and Bolzano, in Italy's most northern region, is no exception, with a daily market that runs along several blocks of a street that's called a square.


P1110394But Bolzano is a bit different that way. The street or square, like everything else in the city, has two names, one representing the German-speaking majority population, and the other the political fact that it's in Italy.

So, the market is on Obstplatz/Piazza del Erbe in the city of Bozen/Bolzano, in the province of Sudtirol/Alto Adige.

And it's presided over by a statue of Neptune with dolphins, despite being inland. Locals often refer to it as 'Gabelwirt,' the Innkeeper with a Fork.

The different languages, and the mixture of cultures, are very much alive in the market, where many specialties of the two cultures sit side-by-side, and some that are purely local are in evidence. Quite a few stands were selling these dried tomatoes, with or without salt, and locally-grown morels and 'stone mushrooms.' Interestingly, the name 'Steinpilze' is German; Austrians call them noble mushrooms, or Herrenpilze. Oh, Bolzano!


Meats, and especially preserved meats, have a prominent place in the market, and also reflect the cultural differences. Take ham. In the north, ham is likely to be smoked to preserve it, while in Italy air-drying is pretty much the norm. But the local specialty in Bolzano's area is a thin-sliced ham that is both dried and smoked. At the market, hams, sausages and a variety of other meats are everywhere, and almost irresistible.


Not to forget bread, although most of the styles displayed belong more to the north than the south.


We visited in late summer, when there was a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, some from afar, but quite a lot of local produce. Not the bananas of course, but...


Here we find another linguistic puzzle: the allegedly Swedish Mirtillo Rosso, which translated as Swedish cranberry; in German it was labeled Preiselbeeren, which also translates to cranberry. But at home, we had a jar of Preiselbeeren preserves that we knew were not cranberry! We've since discovered that the same term is used for cranberries and the (botanically but not culinarily) related lingonberry. Now that both are widely available in Europe, someone needs to find a new name!


A number of windows overlooking the market have interesting decorations, but we'll give the prize to this building which has quite a few windows decorated with fantasy birds like these.



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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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