Alto Adige cuisine has Germanic traditions, while Trentino cooking blends mountain influences with Italian flavours. The hearty traditional food is great for refuelling after a day of hiking or skiing and the quality of produce is exceptional, even in the simplest mountain hut. For finer dining, adventurous chefs are reworking old recipes to fashion much lighter dishes, and it is well worth trying out some of the pricier restaurants we list for a new take on local specialities.

A traditional meal starts with some kind of salami (lucaniche in local dialect), often paper-thin slices of salt beef, or Tyrolean canederli – bread dumplings spiked with speck (smoked ham) often served in broth (brodo). You’ll also see strangolapreti (bread and spinach gnocchi) and schlutzkrapfen (spinach-filled pasta) on the menu. Fresh lake and river fish, game and rabbit are popular as secondi, as are venison goulash or boiled cured pork with sauerkraut. Desserts are often based on apples, pears or plums, readily available from the local orchards. Other sweet treats include apfel strudel, sachertorte and kaiserschmarren, a scrambled pancake with raisins.

A highlight of the year for food- and wine-lovers is the autumn Törggelen season, when everyone heads for the hills to sample the new vintage and snack on mountain ham and roast chestnuts, followed by a walk.

Vines have been cultivated here since before Roman times, and Trentino-Alto Adige produces more DOC wines than any other region in Italy. Most famous are the Pinot Grigios and Chardonnays, which are bright and aromatic from being grown at high altitudes and in cool conditions. These also provide wine makers with the raw material for some outstanding traditional-method sparkling wines, often marketed under the spumante Trentino Classico label. Despite the excellence of the whites, including the aromatic slightly sweet Gewürztraminer, local wine makers actually make more reds often with local varieties like Teroldego and Schiava (known as Vernatsch in German-speaking areas). Red wines made from Schiava are good when young: look out for the pale red Kalterersee (Caldaro) and the fuller, fruitier St Magdalene (Santa Maddalena); those made from the Lagrein grape variety are more robust, such as the strong, dark Lagrein Dunkel, or the Kretzer rosé from Bolzano’s vineyards at Gries. Also worth seeking out is the rare vino santo (not to be confused with vin santo from Tuscany) from Trentino’s Valle dei Laghi – a luscious dessert wine made from local Nosiola grapes.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Where to find the best beaches in Italy

Where to find the best beaches in Italy

From secluded coves to lively seafronts, there are plenty of places to sun worship in Italy. But with an increasing number of hotels charging for access to the …

20 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Video: the 1 minute guide to Italy

Video: the 1 minute guide to Italy

Italy has long been one of Europe's most popular destinations. From the magnificent remnants of ancient Rome to the coolest in contemporary culture, secret beac…

08 Jun 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
Why Turin should be your next foodie break

Why Turin should be your next foodie break

Not so long ago, Turin (Torino) – Italy’s great northern powerhouse – was largely ignored by tourists, unfairly dismissed as little more than a giant Fiat…

26 May 2017 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month