Staying in theme of Independent Regions of Italy, of which there are only 5, this week we’ll be visiting Trentino-AltoAdige, the north-eastern most region in the Bel Paese.
I have been fortunate enough to spend some time in this region since my brother and sister-in-law live there. I’ll share more about them in a future post. What I learned and observed while visiting them and based on their stories of living there is that Trentino is a place full of opportunity. The economy is very good, based on agriculture, manufacturing and artisanal production, and the people enjoy a very comfortable life.
Now, given recent economic difficulties throughout the country, this has changed a bit, but there is a sense that this region is more protected than most due to its independent status.
What does it mean again to be an independent region of Italy? Much like the Val d’Aosta, Trentino benefits from a status by which they are not obligated to adopt or implement all of the same regional laws as the rest of the country regarding economy (including social services), administration and law. For example, the official language in all of Italy is, of course, Italian. However, in Trentino-Alto Adige, because of its independent status, there are two official languages – Italian and German. This allows for greater diversity, but also greater internal conflict, though the Italians are very polite about it.
The entire region has a rich history. Trent, for example, was the site of the First Vatican Council and Council of Trent between 1545 and 1563 AD. Its historical center is a wonderful demonstration of Renaissance architecture and design – a delight for an afternoon stroll, and much of it has been remodeled and restructured to allow for cultural events and tours. Especially beautiful are events held in the evening, when the historical buildings are lit up and allow you to feel like you are stepping back in time.
Bolzano is a treasure of a city, right on the Austrian border and so a wonderful mix of Italian and Austrian culture wrapped into one shiny package. I’ll be sharing more about this later as well. I spent the day there and was simply enchanted by the architecture, atmosphere and people.
Both Trento and Bolzano hold annual Christmas markets where you can find artisanal treasures, regional specific foods and a warm drink. And the entire region boasts spectacular natural areas for hiking, skiing or just a peaceful afternoon picnic.
Because of its location in the Alps, much like the Val d’Aosta, the food is basically comfort food, rich and delicious, based on corn and bread. There is quite a movement towards locally grown items, and like much of Italy, people like things that are in season and can be sourced easily – this is not necessarily because they are thinking of the environment per se, but because this is how they have always eaten. They wouldn’t dream of eating a tomato in the winter or broccoli in the summer – because it just doesn’t make sense to them. Why eat broccoli in June when there’s perfectly good basil and tomatoes? Why eat a mealy, yellow tomato in December, when there are beans and potatoes to be eaten and warm your belly? They are also famous for Grappa and Craft Beers and of course, Vin Broule’ (Mulled Wine) – mmm…I feel warm inside already!
For more information on visiting Trentino in the Winter or Summer, visit https://www.visittrentino.it/en