We painfully extricated ourselves from "Like Home" and made our way to Venice, via the Dolomites. The drive was supposed to take between six and seven hours, but we obviously had to stop at a museum along the way. Before getting into the heart of the Dolomites - the high Alps in northern Italy, bordering Austria - we stopped at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. This is where "Ötzi the Iceman" now lives.
Ötzi's naturally mummified body was discovered in the alps on the border of Austria and Italy in 1991. He is thought to have lived and been murdered somewhere around the year 3300 BC. The museum is very well done and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Along with his body, most of Ötzi's clothes and tools were also recovered and put on display. It was incredible to see how advanced his tools were from that time period, and how much his chest X-ray looks like that of a modern day body (yes, they ran him through a full CT scan).
Pictures of the actual mummy and artifacts are strictly forbidden, so here's a picture shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia.
Preserving and protecting Ötzi is a BFD. His body is kept in a high tech freezer with a backup generator that switches on after 12 seconds of power loss. Don't even think about trying to kidnap Ötzi (not sure why you would?). The freezer has multiple alarms, all of which are directly linked to the local police and fire departments, which will respond in less than one minute. The local hospital even has a special freezer just for him in case of an emergency.
Although you can't take pictures of the real thing, you can take a picture of Ötzi's reimagined doppelgänger. Hirsh is significantly taller, and carries a decidedly more modern (and less threatening) stick.
After the museum, we drove the scenic route through the Dolomites. The question of whether our Smart Car could make it through the Alps remained an open one until we reached the summit. Truly, there were some nail-biting moments. It was a rainy, cloudy day but the view from the top was still very impressive.
We even found a modern day sheep herder on the way. His herding dog jumped out of the back of the truck to keep a close eye on the flock.
We drove through lots of cute alpine towns as we were descending the mountain, including Cortina d'Ampezzo, where the 1956 Winter Olympics were held. This part of Italy truly feels like Germany, and there's a long, contentious history here over land rights and national identity. It's the first place we've been able to speak German on this trip. In fact, we would've felt out of place speaking Italian. Weird!
We finally made it to Venice, hours after we had originally planned due to the hour-long wait to enter the museum and the fact that we got lost several times. We were so close to being safely inside our Venice Airbnb when we were almost robbed, literally standing outside the door trying to figure out the instructions to enter the place. We attracted the attention of a nearby restaurant waiter and the guy thankfully ran off. Disaster averted!