Wait! I didn’t finish telling you about Day 3!
We left the peace and quiet of the countryside and headed for Bolzano, the capital of South Tyrol. City life here, however, isn’t what you’d expect.
A quaint town with an outstanding quality of life, ranked highly amongst all of Italy, with a combination of youthfulness from the University and cultural influence from the older generations. Although there is a busy atmosphere amongst the presence of mingling locals and striking architecture, nature still has an influence as you look up beyond the buildings to find you are completely surrounded by lush, green terrain.
Walking the shaded streets, the Italian-Germanic mix of architecture is everpresent, with Roman and Bavarian influence lending a medieval look.
We retired our city explorations and headed for dinner. I’m devastated to admit that I absolutely can’t remember where this was – so if anyone recognises the dishes, please pop the name in the comments! (Lighting was difficult, apologies for the low budget foodporn)
I started with the interestingly named millefoglie (Italian for mille-feuille) of calf saddle with truffle and endive salad. A neighbouring dish of risotto was too beautiful not to snap, and too cheesy to resist trying. A very modern take on deer fillet was sous-vide and served with a soufflé of polenta, parsnip cream and Tahitian-vanilla oil. Overall, we enjoyed a beautiful take on traditional dishes, served in a warm atmosphere with friendly service. But, my sweet tooth had yet to be satisfied, and when in
I bullied everyone into joining me for some gelato – my favourite way to end any evening spent in Italy. (It didn’t require full use of my persuasive powers if I’m honest)
-Intermission- Now I can tell you about my fourth and final day spent in South Tyrol. You probably need something sweet after that fine bit of foodporn – go grab a snack and we’ll continue. One of the favourite autumnal activities South Tyroleans enjoy is chestnut picking. The “Keschtnweg” or Sweet Chestnut Trail runs along a line of chestnut groves, providing views of the Asarco Valley. We ventured the trail, admiring rustic inns and farms in the shadows of the Dolomites. I loved this: tree turned fence. The hike is mild and scenery is beautiful, traversing through vibrant green meadows and shaded forests, past bountiful chestnut trees and even vineyards. There’s also incredible apple orchards lining the trail, providing colourful South Tyrolean apples ready to be pressed into fresh juice. We walked through the forest, where I was lucky to have watched where I stepped, as I very nearly flattened this guy. He was about the size of my hand, and is obviously now named Chestnut.
The trail opened onto farmland, with ears of corn bursting from their stalks, to the delight of the crows. We made our way back to Radoar, a farm turned vineyard, with a variety of products on sale. We sat down in the sunshine and enjoyed a glass of the freshest apple juice I’ve ever tasted.
Tell me your mouth doesn’t water imagining the sweet-sour taste when you scroll down.
Having worked up an appetite from our afternoon stroll, we were ready for a truly South Tyrolean feast. There’s an old custom in South Tyrol called Töggelen. As autumn approaches, winegrowers open their cosy parlous and cellars for visitors to sample their home-grown wine and home-cooked local fare, including the beloved roasted chestnuts. We cosied up at a table in Glangerhof, 1,000 meters above sea level with a stunning open-air view of the Dolomites, and prepared for a memorable feast.
Local breads, including the traditional Schüttelbrot, were served with a cheesy chive spread and fresh butter. Soon came local cheeses, meats and boiled potatoes, begging to be loaded with butter and salt.
Tirtlen, or savoury fried pastries, were a fast favourite. We shared and teared the hot, fluffy pasty and piled each bite high with tart, cooked sauerkraut. Our eyes may have been bigger than our stomachs, and we soon regretted the fervour with which we devoured these deceitful pastries. More meats, onions and potatoes arrived as we groaned with concern at our tightening trousers. The arrival of our much-anticipated roasted chestnuts soon alleviated any memories of overeating. We greedily peeled back their warm, flaky shells to devour the sweet meat hiding inside; a true taste of autumn in Italy. As the krapfen were placed on the table, we almost wept in surrender. I had to at least try the deep-fried pastry pockets stuffed with tart cherry jam, and I can tell you, it was worth my near-demise. A delicious memory to end such a soul-indulgent trip in South Tyrol. If you’re thinking of giving the area a visit, I would highly recommend visiting during Autumn. Although the Dolomites are popular for their snow-covered offerings, an autumnal visit is beyond pleasurable.
Grazie and danke you multicultural delight!