Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27: Otzi and Bolzano

This morning Dan went on a two hour ride in the rain, came back freezing and a little it disenchanted with mountains. Ok, he still loves mountains but judging from his aspect and demeanor on his return, in the rain and cold, mountains are a little less easy to party with.

Our task this day was to visit the town of Bolzano and find the iceman mummy that was discovered in a glacier just west of there. We got on the old SP47 (Dan says SP stands for Someone Pukes but I think it stands for Strade Provinciale) and shot over to Trento, then up the Autostrade to Bolzano. This was a beautiful, beautiful drive and especially on this strange cloudy day with the clouds draping over the mountains and the valleys open up in front of us like we were looking down from Mt. Olympus. A very prehistoric feel to these mountains, particularly when they are wreathed in clouds.

In Bolzano the GPS got very confused and so did we. Most signs were in Italian *and* German, which was actually more difficult to process than just the Italian, even though Dan and I are stronger in German. Somehow translating both simultaneously and separately was blowing my tiny little mind. Also the GPS was determined to send us in mindless circles, attempting again and again to put us onto a one way street, which we were determined not to go down. Fortunately Dan was feeling so happy from his nice warm ride in the sunshine earlier that he just chuckled gaily at our troubles. Oh, wait, no, Dan was low on blood sugar, high on road rage, and ripped the GPS off the window and threw it on the floor. That's what happened! I was misremembering that other thing.

Eventually we found the Archeological Museum, found a parking lot, got out, and it was raining. We hustled to the nearest food source, which was the Italian version of fast food. We all ate pizza, salad, and drank lots of liquid, and felt better. While up on the second floor we were looking down on the front of the Museum and seeing lots of school groups coming in and out -- apparently Friday is field trip day in Italy as well.

Inside the very high-tech and 21st century museum, there were lots of school kids too, but not too many. We had plenty of room to walk around and take our time looking at everything. As Benny pointed out, this archeological museum is actually the Otzi museum (Otzi is the name given to the "iceman") since everything in it is in some way connected to Otzi. There were some very good interactive bits, where the kids could piece together magnets to show how archeologists reconstructed Otzi's birchbark containers, or where they could wind and weave their own ropes like Otzi's. There was a great screen the size of a table, laid out like an examination table, and you could push around different screens over it (in English, Italian, or German) and show different layers/views of the mummy. It was all very good.

The mummy himself was not as poignant as I thought. He was in a cold tank and gets periodically sprayed with freezing water, to keep him preserved in the state in which he was preserved for 5000 years when he was outside. There are amazing technologies dedicated to preserving his hat, his boots, his belt, and his body, including backup generators for backup generators, specific humidifiers, etc. It reminds me of the *lack of* tech in the Uffizi Gallery in which each room had kind of a dusty humidifier like you'd see in someone's house, with a handwritten note on it sometimes explaining its stats. I guess Otzi is more significant than Botticelli so that's fair.

Seeing the mummy didn't bother me. I didn't think "Oh, how dreadful. Someone should properly bury that." Nor did I think "This conection with the past moves me and provokes me to get a tattoo." I just sort of felt like it was a thing that was dead. The lab report on the contents of his stomach were more interesting to me, I guess. Should we clone Otzi? Should we clone St. Peter? I don't know. Sounds interesting.

We had planned to go on down the Great Dolomite Road to Cortina D'Ampezza and take in some more mountainage, but as it was raining and cloudy this would have been kinda ridiculous. So we stumbled our way home where the children played their violins outside to the enormous appreciation of the neighbors, including a herd of teenagers from the apartments up the hill, who stood there and clapped and cheered for the kids, and wanted them to play more, more, more.

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