Locanda Alpina in the Val di Non

A slow, continuous movement

“Even when looking to the past, new discoveries can be made.” Sometimes it just takes a change in outlook, and suddenly, even in the kitchen, tradition becomes an opportunity for transformation which preserves local culture without overturning it. An expertise which allows for adaptation through a continuous dialogue with itself.

Locanda Alpina | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

La Locanda

Traversing the Alta Val di Non, you will encounter a land of farmers, apples and crops and, before reaching Fondo, you come across the village of Brez. This is a place where wayfarers, adventurers and travellers have found shelter and refreshment since 1853, within the Locanda Alpina of the Segna family – a treat that surpasses all expectations. A dictionary of the valley and an encyclopaedia of the land. A family project of gradual and continuous iteration which, with the young chef Giulia, has reached the fourth generation of explorers of hospitality and flavours.Bold, distinct, full flavour. One which is well defined. Here the traditional dishes, where potato plays the starring role – such as the indispensable raw potato gnocchi – are paired with freshly picked broccoli from Torbole, lichens from the Alpine passes, and dressed with Garda EVO oil. After all, this land at 3000 metres in altitude is best able to express itself through the extraordinary variety of Trentino’s remarkable local ingredients.

Funghi di bosco | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

The dishes

“We always begin with one main ingredient, the product, which should be the centrepiece – seasonal and local. We taste it, study it, and once we have understood its flavour and how it changes when cooked, we create the dish.” This means that even the potato tortel can be turned into a gourmet meal, with local speck ham and chanterelle and porcini mushrooms picked fresh from the forest. The bread has the intense aroma of ancient, organic, stone-ground rye, prepared in the only remaining mill in the valley. This is bread which is deserving of some time all to itself.

So what kind of person makes for the ideal guest? Someone who is sincere, searching for food for the soul, and who engages with the family in helping the kitchen to grow. A visitor who is willing to be surprised even by an off-menu item, an inspired creation of that day, an unexpected ingredient from the experiment of a local farm.

Silvana e Giulia Segna | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

Giulia Segna

Giulia shares her research and work with an ever-growing group of young chefs from Trentino who, based on a foundation of respect for regional cuisine, are leading her into the future. Under the guidance of local star chefs, they experiment, share and put their personalities at the centre, learning to express them to the fullest. They are the Trentino Food Tales generation.“When I’m absorbed in the kitchen, I feel safe. Nothing can hurt me.” A chef mother, hotel school at 14 years, and then the discovery of a passion for baking and patisserie. Continuous study and unbridled curiosity. And her wish? To be able to make mistakes, and learn from them.

“It is only by making mistakes that you can understand what you are doing wrong. My mother has had the chance to make mistakes, and she tends to be protective.” Her mother, Silvana, is the epitome of tradition. Guilia is one of evolution. The two minds coexist in the kitchen, carving out their own space but mirroring each other, bringing balance to the plate.

If she hadn’t been a chef, Giulia would have pursued her passion for make-up – the ability to create shades of colour on faces to bring out the best of their character. This is exactly how you feel when presented with one of her creations. The character of the ingredients is clear: the main ingredient is at centre stage, and surrounding it are highlights that enhance its flavour and splashes of colour that elegantly adorn it, without showing off. This way, you always feel at ease. Giulia’s favourite colour is white, the colour of light, which makes everything else shine.

Carciofo e caprino | © Archivio Trentino Mktg
Frutta caramellata | © Archivio Trentino Mktg
Petto d'anatra | © Archivio Trentino Mktg
Gelato | © Archivio Trentino Mktg
Esterno sera | © Trentino Mktg
Cantina | © Archivio Trentino Mktg

The future

Significant changes are now afoot, not only in the kitchens but in the valley’s farms too. “When I started, there weren’t any farms that would sell a potato, a crate of apples or a cabbage. If you asked, they would look at you strangely. There wasn’t the mentality of saying this is from my garden, I grew it, look how good it is, try it...; they kept the produce for themselves,” recalls Silvana, Giulia’s mother. Now though, a new generation of producers takes pride in their output, shares it with restaurateurs, and even helps to establish new products. Because of this, a new culture of taste has gained traction – the same is true for Locanda Alpina, which no longer buys even a single potato from a retailer. Experimentation, collaboration, transformation, quality.

Not forgetting curiosity, exchange, and knowledge. The Locanda wine cellar is a treasure trove, and the fruit of the research carried out by Danilo, Giulia’s father. Its wine list reflects the excellence of the produce, selected by vintage, wines from the valley, from Trentino, Italy and abroad: Bulgaria, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain. This is further proof that tradition is not about preservation, but about continuous and genuine interaction with everything that surrounds it. Any obstacle to that is a missed opportunity.

Published on 06/06/2023