Trentino Alto Adige
Upon his arrival in the outlying regions of Italy, Goethe declared;
"From Bolzano to Trento one travels for nine miles through a country which grows ever more fertile. Everything which, higher up in the mountains, must struggle to grow flourishes here in vigour and health, the sun is bright and hot, and one can once again believe in a God."
Despite Goethe's declaration, any traveller coming towhees regions from the south or west may feel more as if they have stumbled into Austro-Hungary than into Italy. In July and August Trento and Bolzano can be very hot, the Trentino Alto Adige region has a reputation for being almost polar in climate.
The cuisine of Trentino and Alto Adige (South Tyrol) can be summed up in one phrase "eat to withstand the rigours of winter", so affected is the culture of this region by its climate is the joyous festival that takes place in the region to marks the end of winter, when a huge, grotesque puppet is set ablaze.
Despite there close proximity the Trentino and Alto Adige are more distinct than alike. Trentino is rather Italian in appearance, Alto Adige is more Austro-Hungarian. These two halves of the same region even differ in law, culture, history and cuisine. The principle ingredients in Trentino Alto Adige are mostly Austrian in influence. Cabbage, potatoes, Sauerkraut, Fittatensuppe, canderli, wurstel, speck and polenta would make most people feel more Austrian than Italian.
In addition to the influences of their Austrian neighbours, the Trentino Alto Adige stills shows the influences of a more ancient conqueror, the Catholic Clergy. This is due to Trento being a stronghold of the catholic counter reformation and the site of the 16th century council of Trent. One reason Trentino was chosen for the conference was to also prevent the spread of Lutheranism. The only route from Autria to Italy, the Brenner Pass, is accessible from Trentino and stands located on the crossroads of historical important trade routes. Such strong religious influences lead to the obsessive observation of fasting and a fear of the sins of gluttony, lead the regions cuisine to develop from its game-based traditional cuisine to a more holy, meatless cuisine. On dates where meat was permitted, the regions bountiful game came into its own with ingredients such as capercailles, fallow dear, chamois (antelope), roe deer and wild boar all featured highly in the cuisine of the region.
Nowadays such days of abstinence are rarely observed other than during festivals and national holy days. However, fish is hardly ever seen in the region except for during lent when baccala is specially imported. Due to the lack of meat in the regions cuisine Trentino Alto Adige has developed many baked flour-based specialities. The most notable include the oven baked goods where created in the regions monasteries. The varieties and types of bread, where due to the daily distribution of bread to the poor of the region. But it's not only baked goods that make a good showing in Trentino Alto Adige cuisine, the pasta here is some of the best known in the whole of Italy. Canderli, small potato dumplings similar to gnocchi, are made here and the rather amusingly named Strangolapretti, a thick spaghetti designed to choke the greedy catholic clergymen that ate it. Vegetables here, as one would expect are similar to those in the cuisines of Austria and Hungary, as is the use of preserving and pickling to prepare vegetables for the long cold winters.
Wines of Trentino Alto
The Trentino region is famous for its red wines, Sudtiroler, Lagrein, Teroldego, Marzemino and Trentino Cabernet, are all produced here. Due to its proximity to Austria, beer (in a very Austrian style) is also brewed and drunk here (click here for more information on The Wines Of Trentino and the The Wines Of Alto Adige).
Typical Dishes Of Trentino
Canderli - potato dumplings, similar to gnocchi.
Strangolapretti - a pasta ( well gnocchi) made from stale bread and spinach.
Polenta - served with onion soffritto.
Frittatensuppe - shredded pancakes in a meat broth
Knodeln - dumplings
Beans with salted meat
Sweet and sour Trentino style hare
Merano style snails
Sausage and sauerkraut
Zelten - a pan dolce like bread made with dried candied fruits
Pinza - bread soaked in milk with sugar and figs