A bit of history in Brixen
and Bowser learns how to crawl

It’s one o’clock on Sunday afternoon. After a walk through cobblestone streets, past little water fountains and colourful houses, we sit down at one of the long wooden tables underneath a big party tent. Men and women in Lederhosen and Dirndl gather here to drink beer, eat schnitzel with potato salad and listen to a local band playing music on the stage at the head of the tables. We’re at a so-called Sommerfest in Brixen, the third-largest town of Südtirol. We are in Italy, but it could just as easily have been Austria…

Anna, Bowser and I at the Sommerfest in Brixen. Anna drinks Radler, which is actually just lemonade that looks a bit like beer.
Anna, Bowser and I at the Sommerfest in Brixen. Anna is drinking Radler, which is actually just lemonade that looks a bit like beer.

For a long time this area was Austrian, just like the rest of Tyrol. During the First World War, however, the Allies promised it to Italy and that’s where it now officially belongs to. It still feels very Austrian, though, and German is still the first language. During our weekend in Brixen we actually experienced a nice mixture of both Italy and Austria: we had pizza on a terrace in one of the narrow streets in town, drank homemade limoncello and ate very good ice cream, but we also joined this traditional Tyrolean Sommerfest and went Frühschoppen on the peaceful and quiet courtyard of one of the many wine bars in town.

The historic town centre of Brixen. I think I wouldn't mind living here...
The historic town centre of Brixen. I think I wouldn’t mind living here…

We stayed with our friends Gitti and Ivan, who live in a tower above one of the old gates to the historic town centre. The wooden floors creak and one of the living room walls is covered with a beautiful fresco. A very cool place to live, as evidenced by the many tourists taking pictures of the tower. Ivan sometimes gets annoyed by all the flashing cameras in front of their house and so he likes to pose at the window, showing the people outside a little something (and no… it’s not what you have in mind now). The tourists probably don’t notice until they come home, where they take a closer look at their photos and see to their surprise an angry guy standing behind one of the windows of that beautiful old tower, giving them the one-finger salute. Ivan’s been doing this for years and must be on a lot of holiday pictures by now.

Gitti concerns herself with other stuff. For instance, she knows everything about the history of Brixen and told us all about it while showing us around in town: Brixen is possibly the oldest town in Tyrol. It was first mentioned in the year 901, when a three-headed bishop riding on an elephant from Spain to Germany stopped in Brixen to get some rest from the long travel. He noticed that the people weren’t very good Christians and so he had a lot of churches built (hence the incredible amount of churches you encounter nowadays while walking around in town). He also put up a statue of himself and made a promise to the people of Brixen: every time they go to church and ring the bells, the statue of the three-headed bishop spits gold on the streets below. That’s probably why now Brixen is the town with the highest quality of life in whole Italy.

One of the many churches in Brixen.
One of the many churches in Brixen.

I might have mixed up the stories Gitti told us, but I was very tired, for Bowser learned some new things: exciting stuff for him, a bit exhausting for Anna and me.

Earlier this trip Bowser learned how to move forward on his belly. During our stay in Brixen he already managed to properly crawl on hands and knees for the first time. He won’t stop doing it ever since and is getting faster every day, grabbing everything he’s not allowed to. I know, all babies are like that, but I kind of hoped he might be different.

Bowser crawling towards the door, which he fortunately can't open yet. How long before he can do that as well?
Bowser crawling towards the door, which he fortunately can’t open yet. How long before he can do that as well?

Anyway, it’s nice, in a way. He is getting more interactive each day and if I remember correctly, that’s exactly what I wished for a few months ago. Now I sometimes long for the time he couldn’t move much and fell asleep in my arms, but those times are long gone. I wonder what the next step in his development as a human being is. Perhaps we’ll soon hear his first word, which will probably be one of these three:

  1. Sapperlot – Anna uses this word a lot, usually in combination with Bowser’s name and an exclamation mark, as in: “Sapperlot Bowser!”
  2. Lamp – Since the moment Bowser was born, he’s fascinated by lamps and light more than anything else (although dogs are getting very interesting now as well).
  3. Mama – This would of course be a bit boring (not that Anna herself is boring; just the fact that it’s such a popular first word among babies).

But who knows… maybe Bowser comes up with a way more original first word. Or a whole sentence at once. Could be, since he’s getting very creative and artistic lately. Two weeks ago, on a two-hour-stop in Innsbruck, he already played the harp. But last weekend in Brixen – probably due to the company of his new friends Gitti and Ivan – he really showed us the artist in him. He used drums and a guitar to make music and turned out to be quite a convincing actor in his own dramatic theatre play ‘Brushing my two teeth before going to bed’.

The narrow streets of Brixen look quite picturesque at night.
The narrow streets of Brixen look quite picturesque at night.

We had a very nice time in Brixen and are back in Vorarlberg now, which means it’s nearly the end of our first trip as a family. Tomorrow we drive back to the Netherlands, where Bowser will soon start going to day-care. A bit different than holidays, but exciting stuff once again for all three of us!

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