2005 Letter from Vipiteno: We left (Innsbruck) in the morning prepared to do battle on the Brenner Pass. We knew from our maps that we had to climb 4,000+ feet in 20 miles and worried about The Little Engine That Could. But it chugged along, downshifting whenever it was necessary, never quitting or showing any strain. At some points along the incline it could go no faster than 25 mph in second gear. Those twenty miles took a long time but we got to the top, paid our toll, and then relaxed as we coasted down. Fifteen minutes later we were in Italy.

First stop, Vipiteno/Sterling, recommended by Italian campers we met in Augsberg. Kind of an odd name combination. Found out that the area belonged to Austria until WWI. People still spoke German - except for the Italian man who checked us in. He looked at our passports. They were issued in June. He was not sure enough of his English reading to know with certainty that June was the month he suspected it was. So, he began counting, showing his fingers. We stopped him at six. He looked at the date of birth on the passport. Again, he counted and when we stopped him, he entered the Italian name. Then he gave us lots of instructions in Italian. We nodded and smiled our thanks. Fortunately the people in the restaurant that ran the camping place which was part of a highway stop, complete with hotel, restaurant, tobacco and magazine store, showers, WCs, a washing machine and dryer, public phones, and even an ATM.

We were in a paved area that would hold a couple of hundred rigs, all with electricity. All around us were the Italian Alps. There were two well-preserved castles on the surrounding mountains and one ruined one. The only word for this setting is "Wow". There was a town within walking distance from the campground but there was nothing much in town to see, except the very Alpine style buildings with beautiful flowers.

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