Location: Merano, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
We spent this New Year’s Eve in Merano, a lovely town completely surrounded by mountains in Trentino-Alto Adige. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the region, Trentino-Alto Adige is basically the least Italian place in Italy. Situated on the borders of Switzerland and Austria, it’s is an autonomous region (their healthcare and school systems are separate from the rest of Italy) divided into two parts: Trentino, the southern province, and Alto Adige (South Tyrol in English), the northern province. Merano is in the Alto Adige part. Generally speaking, those who are from the area identify more with the German culture and lifestyle, and are not too fond of being considered Italians.
For those of you coming to Italy in search of the best local cuisine, my one piece of advice is to visit an agriturismo. An agriturismo is basically a restaurant, sometimes with rooms for rent similar to a bed & breakfast, attached to a farm. They grow all of their own produce and raise their own livestock, and then transform everything into delicious regional specialties. Imagine organic fruits and vegetables, yummy local cheeses and wines, gelato made from fresh milk, and freshly rolled pastas! Each agriturismo’s food is specific to the region they’re in, setting them apart from many restaurants in the city, which usually have the same generic dishes served throughout Italy. It also gives you a chance to try some lesser-known local specialties or traditional foods with a twist.
I like to think it was fate that led me to marry a man from Campania, which happens to be the birthplace of Mozzarella di Bufala, one of my absolute favorite Italian foods of all time. As I write this post, I sit here staring longingly at pictures of this exquisite cheese, daydreaming about its incredibly smooth, gleaming white exterior, and its soft, milky, rich interior.