FOOD AND WINE IN TRENTINO
Here, Italy meets the Alps – with spectacular gastronomic results. Have a picnic in a castle or discover mountain life in an alpine dairy
Trentino sits at the junction between two climates and several culinary traditions, and its cuisine is a melting pot of ingredients and methods. Dinner here might include olive oil from the shores of Lake Garda, cheese from a mountain dairy, pasta, local venison, and maybe some apple strudel made with an old Hapsburg recipe.
Parts of the province also offer superb conditions for wine-making. Sparkling Trentodoc Spumante, elegant Marzemino, sweet Vino Santo: at every stage of the meal there is something delicious and distinctive to drink. So pick your venue – whether it’s a mountain refuge, a Michelin-starred restaurant, or a buzzing local pizzeria - and get ready for a memorable meal.
Climate, tradition, rigour, and authenticity: they’re all essential ingredients
It’s the variety that strikes you first. Organic fruit and veg, craft beer, olive oil, fresh fish, venison, pasta, beef, and several unique kinds of cheese: we harvest or make them all in Trentino. But spend any time with us and pretty soon you’ll realise that it’s the quality and authenticity of our produce that really counts.
There’s a modern rigour to what we do, too – establishing DOP status for many of our products, controlling quality, and ensuring both the purity and authenticity of the raw ingredients. As a result, you’ll find every valley and lake shore has its signature products, and its food heroes, too.
Highlights include the light, fruity olive oils from Garda Trentino; mortandella, ciuiga sausage and bresaola from our artisan butchers; and trout and char from our lakes and rivers. Many of our local cheeses are made only with hay-milk, produced by cows fed exclusively on grass or hay. Puzzone di Moena, Vezzena and Trentingrana DOP are three of the names to look for.
Three native grape varieties and a world-beating sparkling wine
In Trentino, centuries of wine-making tradition are reflected in the fact we have three of our own indigenous grape varieties. We’re not short of modern ambition, either. In 1993 our Trentodoc Spumante was the first metodo classico sparkling wine outside Champagne to win D.O.C status - and comes festooned with international awards. In 2015, Trentodoc wine-maker Ferrari was named Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year, ahead of two Champagne houses - Charles Heidsieck and Louis Roederer.
Nosiola, Marzemino and Teroldego are our native grapes, but others love it here, too. Müller-Thurgau, for example, is producing spectacular results on the steep-sided hills of the Val di Cembra, thanks to the area’s hot days, cool nights and well-drained soils. The valley even has its own festival dedicated to the grape.
Of course, proper oenophiles will want to visit the cellars themselves. But for the quickest introduction to Trentino’s 500 D.O.C. wines, a tour of the Palazzo Roccabruna in Trento is a must. Here, the sommeliers of the Enoteca Provinciale run regular tasting nights, which will guide visitors to our best wine-makers and vintages.
Picnic at the castle - new event
In Val di Non lies one of the most picturesque castles in the region. Its peculiar shape, with a central tower, seems to echo the peaks of the Brenta Dolomites, which can be seen in the background, as if they were protecting it. Castel Nanno is a treasure trove of charming stories and legends. Lovers Melisenda and Ludovico, or the witches burnt alive are some of the impressive stories behind this castle that has survived several centuries. During the summer, both can be visited, either individually or together.
Every Sunday in August, at about 1 pm, there is a delicious “Picnic at the Castle” in the beautiful gardens of Castel Nanno. By booking your spot, after a guided tour you can taste genuine local products on a blanket, and in complete relaxation, thanks to collaboration with the Route of Apples and Flavours of the Non and Sole valleys.
Milk the cows in a mountain dairy
Trentino’s food culture is deeply rooted in its landscapes. To get a sense of that, you can visit several of our mountain dairies as part of the “Albe in Malga” (Dairy at Dawn) programme. Visitors can overnight in a dairy, or walk up before sunrise, before meeting the owners and joining them for milking. Cheese and butter-making, milk-tasting, and discussions about the rhythms of mountain life: they’re all part of the programme.
Sit down to a gourmet meal on the side of a mountain
To understand just how distinctive and delicious a Trentino holiday can be, you need to visit one of our gourmet mountain huts. They cling to almost every massif, and some have truly exceptional locations. You can overnight in many of them too, with the lights of civilization twinkling in the valley below, and the mighty crags and cliffs of the mountains as your bedfellows.
July and August are the prime times for a visit, but many are open during the early weeks of autumn too. What’s more, most lie at the far end of beautiful walks. To reach the Capanna Cervino, for example, you park the car at the Passo Rolle, and walk a forest track for 20 minutes, with the stunning crags of the Pale di San Martino as the backdrop. It’s the perfect way to whet the appetite before trying its porcini mushroom tortelloni and walnut cake.
Six of our restaurants now have Michelin stars
Trentino’s rich mix of ingredients and culinary traditions is a godsend for our most ambitious and talented chefs. Six now have Michelin stars, including Alfio Ghezzi at Locanda Margon, just south of Trento. In November 2016 he won his second star – the first Trentino chef to do so.
In each of these stellar restaurants you can expect a warm welcome as well as a sense of gastronomic adventure. Among the many standout dishes is Stefano Ghetta’s Uovo Soffice di Tamion at ‘L Chimpl, in the Val di Fassa. A soft-egg confection of rich, deep flavours, it incorporates wild spinach from the fields next to the restaurant, local Cuor di Fassa cheese and black truffles from Monte Baldo above Lake Garda.
Pizza: an Italian classic, with a Trentino twist
If you think you know pizza, think again. In Trentino, we’re pushing the boundaries of this classic Italian dish, with bases made from spelt and kamut, as well as ordinary flour, and toppings which bring together some of our best local produce. Look out for Trentingrana cheese, olive oil from Lake Garda and even venison prosciutto.
But before you eat, don’t forget that other Italian essential – the aperitivo. In all of our towns and mountain resorts, you’ll find the evening passeggiata an essential part of the daily ritual. So go for a wander, find a buzzing local bar, and do some people-watching over a glass of something special - such as our award-winning Trentodoc Spumante.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream
Does anyone need a reason to eat ice cream? Certainly not on a summer’s day in Trentino. Here, it’s almost a religion, and everyone expects their ice cream to be of the highest quality, and made from the freshest local ingredients.
You’ll find gelaterias in every town and holiday resort. Some are places of pilgrimage – such as the Gelateria Bologna on the road to Lake Garda. One of the most famous ice-cream parlours in Trentino, it serves amazing sundaes - piled high with fruit, millefeuille and chantilly cream. Others are known for their sense of adventure. At the Gelateria Zenzero, next to the Valle dell’Adige cycle path in Borgo Sacco Rovereto, the range of home-made flavours includes basil, lemon and ginger.