Trento, the Gem of Northern Italy


We know Milan, Venice, Verona and the beautiful and popular lake region. But now it’s time to look up north, to Südtirol: there by the Adige River lies a culinary, bubbly, architectural and historical concentration called Trento. This city mixes influences and vibes from both Italy and Austria. On our first night there it took me a bit of time to get used to the imposing dark shapes behind the Adige river – the mountains that guard the city. Hop on the Trento tour and decide for yourself whether to include this Trentino delight on your travel plan next summer!

So, what are the highlights of Trento? First, location, location and location. Trento is located 224 kilometres northeast of Milan and less than an hour car ride from Riva del Garda, the northern tip of Lake Garda. Many roads lead from Trento: whether you are into hiking, skiing, mountain biking or winery hopping, Trento’s vicinities and neighbouring areas offer countless possibilities. For example: the city of Merano and the mountain hiker’s dream peak Merano 2000 are less than an hour’s car ride away. Secondly, 70 kilometres from Trento begins the Alto Adige Wein Strasse where you can get acquainted with local grape varieties with all your senses.

The city of Bolzano, with its numerous tower houses is a good day trip destination.

Culinarism. Would you have guessed that Trento is a culinary hotspot? Well, on the other hand, we are in Italy, the land of culinary pleasures, where many of the best restaurants have their own risotto chefs (such a noble profession, by the way). But yes, be prepared to dine well in Trento. A few recommendations: Scrigno del Duomo at the Piazza del Duomo: their Gorgonzola risotto mesmerized me; Osteria Il Cappello (Piazzetta Bruno Lunelli 5): an elegant and cosy restaurant with an atmospheric terrace: their burrata is purely divine and I am not exaggerating here. Also, in Trento you can find many beer halls with garden terraces which serve delicious food for late diners like us. And, must not forget, our favourite lunch spot was Dal Marcante Specialitá Alimentari at Viale Adriano Olivetti: they serve a wide selection of local cheeses, salamis and wines. Local, fresh and delicious and a special thanks to the warm service.


Pair excellent food with first class wine. Let’s pop in at the Ferrari winery (Via del Ponte, 15). We had booked a tour and a tasting at Ferrari Trento in advance. The tour started with a 15-minute ad film about the winery (skilled but rather sentimental), its history and the owning family, followed by the tour and the tasting. The story and legend of the Ferrari winery began with a man called Giulio Ferrari in the beginning of 1900s. He had a vision and a passion of creating a wine which could compete with the high-quality French Champagnes. Ferrari himself did not have offspring so later he chose, after careful consideration, a wine shop keeper from Trento called Bruno Lunelli, to continue fulfilling his dream and vision of producing quality sparkling wine in the heart of Trentino. And now today, the third generation of the Lunelli family is leading the company. I propose we raise a virtual glass to Giulio, who once decided to plant Chardonnay in Italian soil and was persistent with his pioneering experiments. Salute!



Since a good holiday is about balance, it’s time to go for a run (perhaps on the following day of the winery visit). Up on the hill Doss Trento there is the Mausoleo di Cesare Battisti and running there and back from the city centre makes for an excellent morning workout. You’ll get a bird’s perspective on the city, a sweaty workout and some culture all in one, which is convenient. Next to this hill lies the a mountain, best reached by the Funivia (funicular) Trento-Sardagna. The latter is a pretty little village with several small vineyard patches.

If you happen to visit the place on a calm Sunday afternoon, everything except the bar/café by the cable car station will be closed but you can enjoy some refreshing cold water from the several water posts and admire at the illustrations on the facades of the houses. And after this healthy day walk, if you desire you can enjoy a glass of cold and sparkling Altemasi Trentodoc at the bistrot before heading back down.






What else? The MUSE, the Science Museum designed by the architect Renzo Piano (Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza 3) hosts many interactive exhibitions. Very popular with families and children and no wonder as there is a big experiential area for kids. Also, wandering on the streets and alleys of the city centre and admiring the many beautiful balconies, wooden window shutters and balcony flower blossom. My each trip to Italy equals tens if not hundreds of pictures of the aforementioned.


Grazie Trento, you were a sweet mixture of bubbles, Piazzas, historical vibes and the intoxicating scent of apple orchards.

The Green Dream: An Idyllic Hike in Merano 2000


A green so strong and bright it almost hurts your eyes. The hike I wrote about last time was a proper climb and a sweaty workout. This one is more about idyllic meadows, birds singing, cows grazing on the green hills and alpine huts with domestic animals: a family hiking route, one could say. The Dolomites on the background make the hike spectacular, so rest assured, this is no regular Sunday stroll (unless you live up there of course, you lucky one).


So, we started the hike at the parking area of the Hafling Dorf, in Avelengo Paese, in South Tyrol (in Northern Italy). We did the route number 2 (which then changed to 2A): it is a loop trail and marked with a red line signifying an easy trail (leicht). And that it was: pleasant, beautiful, green and panoramic.



The time estimate for the hike given in the signposts was four and a half hours. It took us six hours to finish it. I don’t want to believe it was the two delicious apple strudels that weighed us down; we stopped many times for pictures and had two refreshing breaks at the huts. We were in absolutely no hurry but it’s good to reserve enough time for the trek before the sun starts to set. The huts on this route are Wurzeralm, Vöraner Alm and Leadner Alm. Once again, I cannot but help to wonder at the wide selection they have, from a wide selection of sausages and other local delicacies to homemade bread and sweet pastries.


This map will be of use to you if you decide to head up there. As you can see from the map, there are so many trails ranging from easy and short walks to more demanding summit treks. To me this place is a hiker’s paradise. A strong recommendation to all you travel, nature and outdoor activities enthusiasts out there!


Reaching New Altitudes: Discovering Merano 2000


I’ve had this dream of hiking in the Alps for quite some time: something of a mixture of the magnificent views  from the Sound of Music and an active and sweaty sports holiday. The dream came true in August. We spent our holiday in Northern Italy, in Trento, and did day trips in different directions. One destination was the summit Merano 2000. My highlights and tips, here you go:


So what is it about?
Merano 2000 is a hiking and recreational area with numerous panoramic hiking trails. A cable car (Via Val di Nova) will take you up to the summit in seven minutes. Quite a quick ride from the ground level to the mountains. There is a wide range of routes (altogether 19 of them) from a brisk stroll along a gravel path to more demanding vertical rises towards the mountain peaks. The place also has tens of kilometers of mountain biking trails.


Why go?
Because: the views, the workout and the views. And the bonus reason: the delicious apple strudel bigger than your head. The views to the Dolomites (which is an UNESCO World Heritage site) are stunning.

 


How?
The trekking trails are clearly signposted all the way. We did the hike from Piffing to the Kuhleiten hut. It consisted of the following parts: first an easy trail along a gravel path (trail number 3). Then a more demanding ascent marked as only for experts (oops): we did some improvising here and took a little shortcut – we ended up almost crawling on all fours up the hill. The rest of the way we then decided to follow the marked path, which was a moderately heavy trail. I’d say that the more arduous paths require a good physique and that the given time estimates in the wooden signs are  mostly accurate.


For whom?
For so many: for those who enjoy the outdoors, gorgeous scenery, being active and summer adventures. For couples, entire families with children, for all ages really. All in all, it is an excellent outdoor holiday option for those, who relax best by staying in motion.

Timewise
Note, that during the high season the last cable car heads back down at 6 o’clock pm, which is relatively early as there would be daylight still for a few more hours. On Fridays, the ropeway operates until 9 o’clock pm.


The biggest surprise?
What surprised me was the big number of (a total of 19) Hütten (mountain huts) and the wide selection they had: you can try the traditional treats of the local gastronomy, for example a Gulaschsuppe, Käseknödel or then my favourite, Südtiroler Apfelstrudel. A piece of warm apple pie with whipped cream (how else) tastes close to heavenly in the refreshing mountain air. The language used is German and the prices are very reasonable. A strong recommendation to these refreshing and tasty oases. Some of the huts even have an Übernachtungsmöglichkeit (gotta love German), that is, the possibility for overnight accommodation.


How much?
The cable car ride cost 27 Euros for two people (round trip): this was the happy hour price (valid from 2 o’clock onwards), the normal price being 20 euros per person. The snacks in the huts were affordable.


What to remember?
First, sunscreen. Take it from someone whose lips were peeling for several days after the holiday: remember to put sunblock on your lips as well. Other necessities: comfortable and sturdy shoes, a hat, a water bottle and a camera to capture all that beauty. And also a sweater with long sleeves: it is quite chilly and windy high up there (says someone who insisted on enjoying her espresso in a sports tank top, and in goose bumps).



I am a girl who loves to be by the water (sea, lakes, ponds, waterfalls, any water source really) but now the mountains definitely have a strong hold of me. When and where to next, those are the questions once again.

Have fun, viel Spaß, up there!