Meandering with a Michelin-Starred Chef
The Italian province of Trentino was annexed by Italy in 1919, and maintains many aspects of its former Austrian character. Trentino is geographically stunning: it is almost entirely mountainous with many gorgeous valleys, several of which we will explore during our nine day stay. “Tasty Trentino” is so named because of the strong emphasis Adagio Travel places upon the food and beverages produced here. The Trentini have practiced sustainable agriculture for centuries, long before it became a buzzword in the United States. Accompanied by a young and energetic Michelin-starred chef, we will spend each day exploring different aspects of traditional farming, as well as natural production of beer, wine and spirits. Meals will be centered around tasting these delicious raw materials, and learning how they are transformed into familiar and less familiar products. Our chefs include three of the area’s top professionals, as well as several very talented “home chefs”.
During our tour of Trentino, we will spend evenings resting in a gloriously simple inn, refreshing our bodies with unpolluted air and peaceful surroundings. Many consider summer the ideal time to visit the Trentino, as temperatures are moderate and rainfall is rare. We will also spend a day taking in the art and culture of the region’s capital, Trento.
A final aspect of the trip will be observing how local governments in Trentino exercise their large degree of autonomy in the areas of health, education and welfare. Trentino’s “autonomous” status is unusual in Italy, which typically exercises strong central control over its regions.
Day 1 (Saturday) – Whisked away to a world of nature and harmony
Transfer after lunch from the Bolzano airport or train station to our tiny “maso”, or “country house”, in a peaceful setting about an hour southeast of Bolzano. Welcome dinner at Michelin-starred El Molin. The restaurant’s name is local dialect for “the mill”, and indeed it is housed in a converted mill, with comfortable tables skillfully arranged on several levels. Chef Alessandro Gilmozzi excels at enlivening local specialties, like cheese and polenta-filled buckwheat ravioli; venison prepared with fennel and smoked juniper; and pork fillet with Rhododendron honey pearls (we’ll see how these are made later this week)…just to name a few. D
Lodging for the next 8 nights: a charming, 6-room “mountain shelter” dating from the 1600s, nestled in the Carano municipality of the province of Trento.
Day 2 (Sunday) – What in the world is “speck”??
Each morning starts with a rich breakfast of fruit, yogurt and homemade pastries. Late morning finds us in the company of Chef Alessandro, who will be spending much of the week with our group. He accompanies us to visit a friend whose family has been producing speck, this region’s most famous cold cut, in the same manner for over 50 years. Most locals prefer speck to prosciutto, and it appears in numerous Trentino dishes. We’ll try a few of those at our midday meal, eaten with the family amongst larches and fir trees. After lunch, Alessandro escorts us back to El Molin, where we’ll “talk food” and prepare for a wonderful dinner. B,L,D
Day 3 (Monday) – Sweet beginnings …
After breakfast we are off to a small production honey maker. We will taste, among others, a very rare honey made from Rhododendron flowers, which grow only on the highest mountain slopes. Lunch today is at the “old wine shop”, housed in a building dating from the 16th century. We complete our day’s sojourn with a visit to a sheep farm. And not just any sheep farm, for the indigenous “tingole” breed is close to extinction. We will discuss with the breeder why so many of his peers have chosen different paths and what sort of future lies ahead for the tingole. Dinner on your own. B,L
Day 4 (Tuesday) – Goats and hops
This morning’s visit is to a goat farm, where we’ll explore goat cheese production and feast on homemade specialties at noon. The afternoon boasts an unusual treat for Adagio travelers: a lesson in beer production! Chef Alessandro’s brother Stefano will take us back to the origins of beer making at his artisinal distillery. Dinner on your own tonight. B,L
Day 5 (Wednesday) – Trento, Capital of Trentino/Alto Adige
Early morning departure for Trento, an oft missed jewel of this part of Italy. Trento is a pristine, orderly town nestled in the Adige River Valley that descends from the Brenner Pass into northern Italy. The city represents a meeting of Italian and Central European cultures, which we will learn more about during our locally-guided tour. The city is best known for the “Council of Trent” (1545-1563), during which the Catholic Church rejected many of the reforms spearheaded by Martin Luther, among others. Artistic treasures abound: the Castle of Buonconsiglio, Falcon Tower, and numerous fresco-filled buildings. Lunch on your own and plenty of shopping and wandering time in the afternoon. Dinner tonight at the Michelin-starred Malga Panna, whose chef is also a member of the prestigious “Young Restauranteurs of Europe”. B, D
Day 6 (Thursday) – Natural Wine Production
Today is dedicated to learning about current trends in natural wine-making in Italy. We visit a vintner located over 300 meters above sea level, far from any source of pollution, who rotates crops and focuses on biological equilibrium rather than pesticides to support her grape production. Guided tasting of several wines follows a walk through the vineyards. Lunch on your own in a charming nearby town. Before returning home, we pass by a distillery working out of an ancient, former water mill. These are truly products made in the most natural way possible. Dinner on your own tonight. B
Day 7 (Friday) – “Puzzone”
Moena is a peaceful mountain town known for a cheese called “Puzzone”. We will visit the factory where raw milk from cows that graze in fields at very high altitudes is cooked in copper kettles and converted into this special product. We return to the wonderful wine shop for a late lunch. Afternoon and evening at leisure. B, L
Day 8 (Saturday) – Meandering with Alessandro
Today is the highlight of the week: an entire day with Chef Alessandro, gathering fresh herbs and berries in the forest and then returning to his private “rifugio” for a cooking demonstration and an intimate lunch. Afternoon free to pack your bags. Gala farewell dinner prepared by Alessandro at El Molin. B,L,D
Day 9 (Sunday) – Departure
Departure after breakfast for the Trento airport or train station. B
*B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner provided