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North of Verona, South of Austria


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We are doing our preliminary research for a June trip that includes a week staying north of Verona in Fumane, in the midst of Amarone land.

I'm wondering if there are some of you who have travelled, spent some time, etc. in this area, and particularly further north into Trentino Alto-Adige. Any "can't miss" towns, food sites, cheese coops, beyond-breathtaking scenery to enjoy while eating an amazing meal? I have searched the usual sites, but haven't seen much here on e-gullet.

We have a house, a car and no plans. Thanks.

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Trentino and Alto Adige are sometimes lumped together as one region, but they really are two very different and unique places. Trentino feels very Italian, until WWI it was the northern border of Italy. You will see many monuments to the war in this region. Alto Adige, which is also called South Tyrol, was annexed by Italy after the war and retains a distinctly Austrian feel. People will speak to you first in German, then Italian. The locals have also retained their unique language called Ladino, which is impossible to understand for outsiders.

As you leave Verona going north on the A22 highway you pass the northern part of the Lake Garda shore and then enter Trentino. The highway is lined with apple orchards, and vines, breathtaking scenery in itself. In Trentino, I always love taking a walk in Trento because the city center and the castle are so beautiful. There is a wonderful restaurant in the center called Le Due Spade that serves a very elegeant interpretaton of the local cuisine. It is a small place so you must book ahead.

As you go north there are also many wine routes along the towns of Termeno and Caldaro to see along the way. You then arrive in Alto Adige which is one of the real jewels of Italy.

The main town is Bolzano, which is charming. Two hotels I like there, the Laurin, which is traditional, and the Grief, which is very modern. A nice place to eat is Vogele, which offers simple but good renditions of the local specialties in a beautiful setting. Book a table in one of the upstairs rooms.

Bolzano has very nice castles to visit and also the Ice Man is worth a visit.

In Alto Adige the cuisine is very Austrian influenced and you will see things like, speck, various kinds of dumplings, deer, and other items you don't see anywhere else in Italy. In fact, Alto Adige has some of the best food in the entire country.

Wines can be outstanding as well, you can PM me if you'd like more details.

Make sure you try the Lagrein Taberhof from the Cantina Produttori S. Maddalena.

From Bolzano you have several choices. Merano is a gorgeous town with stunning views. A very nice restaurant there is Sissi, excellent food and one of the most extensive and well priced wine lists in the entire country.

Or you could go see the towns up in the mountains like San Cassiano, La Villa, and Colfosco, which are famous for skiing. Had two fabulous meals there recently.

Colfoso-Stria, super cuisine, small but well chosen wine list, definitely worth a visit.

San Cassiano- Hotel Ciasa Salares, for a truly memorable meal, have lunch at the hotel restaurant, La Terrazza. Views of the mountains, you can eat outside, and one of the most extensive winelists in all of Italy. They also have a list of "bio-dynamic" wines that is larger than the winelists of most regular restaurants.

The fancy restaurant in the hotel is called La Siriola, but I haven't been there yet. It has one Michelin star and offers more fanciful cuisine, and of course great wines.

Also at Corvara is La Stua di Michil, in the La Perla hotel, another very famous place. You should call ahead to make sure that these places are open, because the area is very seasonal.

Lastly, you can continue north on the A22, Bressanone is a lovely elegant town to see. Nearby there is also the Abbazia di Novacella, an abbey you can visit that also produces very rich and elegant wines, especially famous for its aromatic white.

Have a great trip.

Antonio

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i spent a week in trento a couple of years ago and heartily recommend it. the town is beautiful. to me, though, the area is not "typical italian", in the same way that friuli isn't. to me there is a strong austrian influence, though certainly not when compared to alto adige!

one of the things i loved best about trento was the place we stayed, the villa madruzzo. i can't say enough about this hotel. it is one of the best places i've ever visited. the rooms were a great blend of old and modern (it's in an old monastery, as i recall, which was redone into a retirement home and now into a luxury hotel). but it's fully modernized, with a/c, nice showers, and everything. there's a michelin-starred restaurant downstairs. it's on the hill outside of trento (technically, cognola di trento) and it's surrounded by private gardens.

Villa Madruzzo

best of all, it was downright cheap when we stayed there. In the late '90s, i believe it was around $85 a night for the best room. looking at the price list, it doesn't seem to have gone up hardly at all (adjusting for exchange disasters).

not far away is maso cantanghel, a very Slow restaurant where they cook (extremely well) mostly from their own farm. Great local wine list, too.

I've actually been thinking of going back, just to stay at the hotel, though.

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Grazie per le risposte!

Excellent suggestions. I am assuming we will be using the A22 as the major artery to the north. Most exciting is that this area sounds relatively untouristed and there remains plenty for discovery. Are there any particularly scenic routes off the autostrada that come to mind? I have seen pictures of Val di Tures (off the S49) with a spectacular castle and interesting town.

Last year we meandered through the hills of Abruzzo and found a friendliness just not there in the big cities.

It is great to hear from those who have been there. Please keep them coming if you can think of anything.

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  • 10 months later...

I was in Bolzano at the weekend (walking in the Alps - lovely!) and we had dinner on Saturday night at The Laurin hotel. The chef, Thomas Mayr, was sous-chef for a year at The French Laundry and he is, commendably, trying to bring a little excitement to the menu there. Unfortunately, however, in my opinion, he lacks the final degree of polish necessary to really make his dishes sing. His menu read very well - though I am never going to be 100% sure about a menu that has tuna carpaccio with avocado on it, in the mountains, in December - but the execution was underwhelming.

We were given an amuse of carta di musica with aubergine puree. Delicious. And I don't even like aubergines.

I started with fagottini with Savoy cabbage on a ragout of rabbit. Filling was sweet and good, but the pasta was undercooked and even a little hard/cold at the top edge (little bundles pinched together at the top). Rabbit ragout sensational and melting. Massimo had trofie with chicken + curry broth. Flavour was excellent, but, being Italian, he pointed out that trofie were not 'correct' with broth.

Sabina then had duck breast with quince, which was slightly oddly presented as a large finger-shaped candied-looking chunk. Massimo had beef involtini with bacon - good, but humdrum. I had truffled John Dory with crosnes + salsify. Nice, but the truffle wasn't entirely convincing with the fish.

I was too full of aubergine to have a pudding but Massimo managed raspberry roulade with blackcurrant icecream with pistachios (icecream excellent, roulade very ordinary), and Sabina had warm chocolate truffle cake with little cubes of pear and what looked like a lightning bolt made out of sugar. This would have been more impressive if the bolt had been perfectly smooth on the underneath instead of being patterned by the plastic sheet it had cooled on. Both puddings were ho-hum. Nice petits-fours with the coffee, though.

So - disappointing, I thought.

By way of contrast, we were walking near Soprabolzano the following day and had lunch at a little refuge called the Moserhof. Sauerkraut, spareribs and Kaiserschmarren with jam. Mountain people food, as Sabina said - completely without pretension and thoroughly delicious.

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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  • 2 years later...

Scrigno del Duomo - Trento

We found ourselves in Trento for a couple of evenings last week. Much to our pleasure -and as noted up-thread- the central piazza in Trento is a beautiful space that would be celebrated endlessly by the British chattering classes if it were in Tuscany. But locked away in the heart of the Trentino, straddling the Adige and en route between the Veneto and Austria, this historic, relaxing small city draws far less attention than it deserves.

I hadn’t booked any meals, although I knew Scrigno del Duomo was one of the best places in town. There’s a wine-bar that serves an appealing short menu upstairs, with a more serious restaurant in the old cellars below. We wandered in on the Saturday evening at eight and asked on the off-chance if there were any free tables. Fortunately, we were shown downstairs (with steps that may be tricky for the immobile) to a spacious, airy vault that was very cleverly lit. They offer an a la carte, a local menu of regional specialities, and a chef’s special menu. I lobbied for the local but my partner persuaded me that the chef’s dugustazione looked more interesting.

Admittedly we’d side-stepped the regional cuisine in favour of the chef’s signature dishes, but the amount of seafood that followed nevertheless surprised me. The meal began with an amuse of oyster and tuna, and was followed by a good tuna and melanzane dish (where the meaty melanzane worked much better than anticipated with the tuna carpaccio). A third seafood dish likewise presented a good contrast of textures, with a thick sauce of bulgur wheat and oil augmented by a range of seafood. The best and last of the fishy dishes was a generous fillet of baked turbot with two sweet pepper sauces and crisp melazane slices. All these dishes were cooked precisely and all offered balance, interest and enjoyment. Moreover, when the menu finally reached shore, a guinea-fowl dish with a woodland ragu was impressive and, I imagine, a closer reference to local culinary traditions. A chocolate, ginger and strawberry Bavarese proved a very refreshing dessert.

The service was light-of-touch but welcoming thoughout. While I’d be surprised if this restaurant troubled the Michelin inspectors for a second star, this was an enjoyable meal that represented excellent value (to my mind) at circa €160. Particularly impressive in this respect was a very drinkable Trentino Pinot Grigio with a slightly rusty hue that was recommended by the sommelier and that arrived at the lowly price of just €15. Overall, we’d return here happily. The minor gripe would be the piped music that hummed away in the background and that included, incongruously, a CD of sub-Riverdance Celtic tunes. An archaeologist friend of mine talks about a rising interest amongst Northern Italians in their supposedly mysterious, long-submerged Celtic past - but this hammy musical phenomenon (in my humble opinion, of course) was an unexpected addition to the evening!

Edited by Kropotkin (log)
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Hi Alberts,

guess what, for the past three years I have been spending between 3 and 5 months in Trento for work reasons. I hope this does not sound as self promotion, but on my blog I have reviewed a lot of very good (and some bad) restaurants in the area between Trento and Bolzano, here they are in case you want to have a look:

-Castel Toblino (Trento, IT)

-Il Libertino (Trento, IT)

-L'Ortica (Brescia, IT)

-La Cruna dell'Ago (Rovereto, IT)

-Lo Scrigno del Duomo (Trento, IT)

-Malga Panna (Trento, IT)

-Novecento (Rovereto, IT)

-Orso Grigio (Trento, IT)

-Osteria Fior di Roccia (Trento, IT)

-Osteria Le Due Spade (Trento, IT)

-Zur Rose (Bolzano, IT)

All hte above are proper restaurants. But there are loads of other small trattorias where you pay very little and get a very nice meal, e.g. i 3 Camini, which is on Hihglands outside Trento, close to two beautiful lakes (a walk around both of them takes a couple of hours, half of this if you walk round one of them only).

In addition, If you have got the time make sure you try and reach a "Rifugio" up in the mountains: besides really unforgettable views, you can get very cheap and very nice meals, too. They might require you to walk a bit, but you will be rewarded by the traditional peasant fair of polenta and game stew. These are two I have tried, one that is some kind of an institution, Rifugio Marchetti, Monte Stivo (Rovereto, IT), and the other one easier to reach, and also ok (also with impressive views, though perhaps not as scenic as the rifugio Marchetti, but it is a matter of taste): Rifugio San Pietro (Trento, IT)

And if you have time to go to lake Garda, there are a couple of good ones there too.

As for the roads, you are spoilt for choice for scenic routes. The two "gardesana" (i.e. the winding roads going around Lake Garda) are probably murderous in June because of traffic (and if you are stuck, there is no way out). But coming from Trento, Valle dei Laghi I would say is a must, and if you have the chance to go visit the Parco Naturale Adamello Brenta" there will be some unforgettable views, I promise you. If you go further up, cannot miss Val Badia and Val Gardena.

If you happen to get to Trento, their local tourist office is very active, and staff there was always very helpful. They also have an official site: tourist office

Gosh, can you tell I am rather envious of your trip?

enjoy!

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I love Trento and Bolzano. We're going again in June '08 with bicycles. To the great advice offered already, I'd add:

-- near Fumane, in San Giorgio (maybe just west of Fumane in a straight shot), we ate at and loved the restaurant Dalla Alda Rosa.

-- scenic drive (or cycle) up Mount Baldo. There is a long ridge road along the west side of the peak; we went S-N along this beautiful, narrow ridge road to the summit, then dropped down though a spectacular gash through huge limestone cliffs to Avio along the Adige River. Bring lunch to feast on top. Beautiful views.

-- Trento. We stayed at the Hotel America. SOunds strange to come from America (north) to stay in a Hotel America, but the place was convenient and inexpensive.

-- In Bolzano: We loved a restaurant called -- and I know I'll get the exact name incorrect -- called Basenhausel. It was moderately priced, great wines, great food.

-- scenic drives from Bolzano? Put car in "drive" and go any way! Stunning scenery every which way.

-- In fact, I could say the same about the drives from Trento. Altopiano to Asiago, which you could do just as easily from Fumane, I think. Check that one out.

Do you have the Touring Club Italiano maps -- Trentino-Alto Adige? Fantastic map. Mine is falling apart. Actually, my second one is falling apart after the first one disintegrated.

Email me and I will forward a compiled list I have made for both areas. Free info, much of it scammed right here from our gracious fellow travelers, including Signore Parsons!

Cheers

(tim.vitale@usu.edu)

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I'm pleased to prompt a little more discussion of the Trentino and Alto-Adige. I was very impressed by the regions on my first visit for some twenty years (at a time when I wasn't old enough to appreciate the finer things...)

If it's of help to others, we stayed at the Grand Hotel Boscolo in Trento - it has a very good, central location (just two minutes from the station through a park, and two minutes further to Piazza del Duomo). It was a good, modern 'business' hotel - if perhaps too big for the city and its potential business. But I like this - it means we found a very good rate online; likewise, I like the strange atmosphere of over-large, half-full or empty grand hotels (odd, I know). Don't bother with the breakfast, however - this was poor.

Salutistagolosa - I like your blog very much, and I'm heartened that we seemed to choose the slightly better place to eat (if I read you correctly) in preferring Scrigno del Duomo to Osteria a le Due Spade. We dined for a second evening at what seemed to be a new, popular, wine-bar cum restaurant finished with industrial-chic decor to the west of Piazza Duomo near Le Due Spade. I can't recall the name, though, and beyond a good seafood ravioli starter, the meal was a profound disappointment - despite the higher-end prices. The service we received was abysmal too. I'd name and shame (politely) if I could remember their name!

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Salutistagolosa - I like your blog very much, and I'm heartened that we seemed to choose the slightly better place to eat (if I read you correctly) in preferring Scrigno del Duomo to Osteria a le Due Spade.  ... The service we received was abysmal too.  I'd name and shame (politely) if I could remember their name!

you definitely read me correctly - and the guy at "due spade" was soo very pushy! I wish I knew his name, too, though I am pretty sure we are talking about the same chap. Anyhow, if you happen to go back, you'll be able to check, as the one I am talking about has his face on big posters outside the restaurant in some kind of publicity stunt for his place - O am not sure he is going to be a great success in soliciting customers...

/glad you like the blog!

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-- near Fumane, in San Giorgio (maybe just west of Fumane in a straight shot), we ate at and loved the restaurant Dalla Alda Rosa.

We ate at Alda Rosa as well. Beautiful setting after a dramatic drive, and wonderful typical local food. The owner will be happy to show you the Saveur magazine article featuring his restaurant. We had an outstanding meal there.

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Holy moley! All of the stars come out for Mike Alberts! Galloni, Parsons, the blogiste extraordinaire!

Mike, this is not an area that I have explored, but I can offer you two meager words: hot dogs. This region produces, without question, the best hot dogs that I have ever eaten, period. Forget about Pink's. Forget about Papaya King in NYC. The key is "puro suino". Imagine an all-beef frankfurter made from Kobe beef. They are THAT good. You can trust me on this, as in all things. I even forgive you for cheating on the Piemonte this trip!

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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Holy moley!  All of the stars come out for Mike Alberts!  Galloni, Parsons, the blogiste extraordinaire! 

I even forgive you for cheating on the Piemonte this trip!

Yes, indeed, quite the honor, particularly given that my only credentials are that I am a bonafide Italophile and I like to eat!

On our last trip to the Veneto, we didn't make it north of Trento, but the Valpolicella zone was spectacular with the relatively wild rolling hills and a feeling of an emerging wine region.

We never had hot dogs, particularly of suino, but we did see a lot of ways to serve a horse (as the main course, not the guest).

Accolades about the Veneto aside, don't worry Bill, Piemonte is still it for us. (Although the food in Sicily.......)

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