Thursday, May 02, 2013

Three Days in Trento: Wine, Food and Relaxation without the Tourists

Friends of mine in Austin have a restaurant, called Trento. They asked me to set some of their friends up in the Italian town of Trento for a three day wine visit. That is the impetus for this post. I thought it would also be fun to share my thoughts on visiting wine country in the Trentino-Alto-Adige with the rest of the world. This area doesn’t get visited as much as other areas in Italy but it’s a great place to explore wine and scenery.

Three days – five wineries (there are many more, but this isn’t a death march) -based out of Trento the town.Trento – from Milan, Venice or Verona fairly easily accessed by car. Historical town, very clean and quiet. Some of the most expensive real estate in Italy (New York City-like prices). Lots of wealth. It makes a good base to get to wineries and come back to for relaxing and dining/drinking wine.

I’ve stayed at a few hotels, but the one I like is the Grand Hotel Trento. Rooms are nice, parking is easy. The hotel is situated close to the ancient walled in medieval part of the town. The Duomo of Trento is famous for the 18 year long council of Trent. University town, lots of young people on the streets, in the cafĂ©’s.

If you want to stay out in the country near the vineyards, I recommend the Hotel Tenz. set up like a chalet, very comfortable and large rooms, a great American style breakfast spread and very reasonable prices

Trattoria “Vecchia Sorni”
Some restaurants I like 

Near the Duomo is a bar/restaurant called Scrigno del Duomo. I like to go there for a nightcap. It’s laid back, lots of interesting people, not a lot of tourists. The staff is cool, from all over the world; the Wine selection is daunting as are the grappa and amari’s served. I had an epiphany there one night listening to Gabor Szabo’s rendition of “The beat goes on.” I love the place.

Ristorante il Libertino – a little walk across town, good for the digestion, this restaurant is owned by Vias founder and owner Fabrizio Pedrolli, who loves a good drink and good plate of food. Wines here are showcased with hearty trattoria food. Very much off the touristic trail. Reserve ahead.

Outside of town, a little drive, is a small place, Trattoria “Vecchia Sorni”. This is the real deal, and in June, eating outside, wow, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Other restaurants worth looking into that my friend and colleague, Alberto Lusini, sent to me. Alberto lives in Trento and he has always taken me to great places (like Vecchia Sorni).

Al Forte Alto (Nago on Lake Garda)
Castel Toblino (Toblino Lake)
Castel Pergine (Pergine)
Osteria Il Cappello (Trento)
La Cacciatore (Mezzocorona)
Da Silvio (San Michele)
Maso Finisterre (Trento)

I also like to wander when am in a town I don’t know so well. In April, when I was there, taking a walk near my hotel, I stumbled across a small, modest place, called Ristorante Pizzeria Bouganville. At the time white asparagus was in season and I had a wonderful risotto and a glass of Muller Thurgau. Perfect for those times when you don’t want to fill yourself up every time you sit down to eat.


Winemaker Lucio Matricardi
Mezzacorona/Rotari – this is a large winery devoted to making wine from the 1,600+ members of the local growing group organized around this concern. Make no mistake about it, this place is big, but the winemaking is pristine and Swiss clockwork precise. The wines that come out of here service a lot of tables and they provide a consistent, dependable, honest wine. The wine facility looks like something out of a Ridley Scott movie (think Bladerunner). Definitely worth a visit and very close to Trento.

Alois Lageder – a little further up the road is this iconic winery. I was just there for Summa, an alternate wine show to Vinitaly. Very laid back town, nice castle, great wines. Alois is a legend in the area and his wines are thoughtfully made – they are futuristic and old fashioned at the same time. Huge devotion to the organic movement with Biodynamic playing a large part in the process. Not to be missed.

♫ The hills are alive ♫
Tiefenbrunner – Way up the road, where German really is the first language, Tiefenbrunner is perched. If you are lucky you might get an invite to the vineyard called Feldmarschall von Fenner, at 1000 meters. I’ve been once; saw Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp family coming across the meadow singing their hearts out. I’m sure it was because they wanted some more of that delicious Muller Thurgau.

Maso Poli – not as far up there but situated as well in a beautiful location is this winery. The family, Togn, have several winery labels, the Maso Poli being their most important one. One of their other projects, Lechthaler is very interesting. A must try is their Teroldego Rotaliano. The label is quite innovative. These folks are pretty hip, the winery is beautiful, and the wines reflect the place and the sensibility of the people. It’s the kind of wine I can drink every day – very reliable – not dumbed down, tasty, reasonably priced – wine to go with life – if you get my drift.

Tenuta San Leonardo – Lastly, this winery is a piece of history, the wines are legendary, the owner is a wonderful person and the layout of the estate is breath taking. Tenuta San Leonardo winery, for me, is one of the great wine estates of Italy. Period. Hard to get in for a visit (appointments only, as most of these are) but a visit one will never forget

That said; when you plan your visits, plan them during the week. As I have said countless times, Italians see the weekend as family time, which is sacred in Italy. Fortunately, for the folks whom I am planning this trip, they are going during the week.

Another note: I am not a travel agent. I set up trips for some of my clients and their guests as part of the courtesy of the business I am in, and I do it willingly and with joy. But I do not have time to do it for everyone who reads these posts and wants me to set them up. I have too many experiences setting up trips for people I have never met who never show up. So, that phase of my life is over. That said, if you are really intent and ardent and willing to be patient and let me know with lots of lead time, I am glad to see what I can do. But do not email me on a Friday, telling me you will be in Florence on Saturday and want to visit a winery in Tuscany the next day. That email won’t get a reply.

If you do go to Trento, try to remember that Venice and Florence and Rome will always be there waiting to take your money and cram you into a small hotel room and give you the tourist treatment. Trentino-Alto Adige is a break from that inevitable pilgrimage. You might even get to relax and enjoy Italy the way the local folks do. I love this area, the wine, the food, the scenery and the precise way the Italians live in this region. It’s different and it’s a place you shroud put on your bucket list.

More Info at Visit Trentino - official website for Trentino Tourism

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W


Anonymous said...

One of my favorite wine regions of the world!

Dave said...

What a fascinating part of Italy,with a beauty and magic quite unlike the south. A fun place, too, where the streets signs are in German first, and the waitress is more likely to greet you with "Guten Tag" sted of "buon giorno."
Thanks for the reminder.

Gary York said...

Really interesting region that gets far too little attention. I have a dinner on Mon with Colterenzio. Still fighting with the menu. I have to look at it from the German/Austrian side. I come at it from the Italian side.But it is starting to fall into place. Thanks for the post.

Pete said...

Here I am at work dreaming of better places to be, you just took me there for a few minutes, thankyou.

Travel and Taste said...

My husband and I try to get up there for two weeks every summer. More in Alto Adige then Trentino, but the region is my favorite AND they are very dog friendly, even the vineyards. Since we are hiking with the dogs, this is important, because I like to include wine tastings, too. Foradori isn't too far from Trento if you have a car and it is one of the most beautiful vineyards I have ever visited. The entire region is like food for my soul. Hiking, food, wine... Love it

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