South Tyrol - Alto Adige/Südtirol packs the romance of the soaring Dolomites, carpets of apple orchards, vineyards and a fabulous restaurant scene; this is where the charismatic Austrian snugs up to sensual Italy in one bed of natural beauty.
Food is high on this region's agenda, also known as the Garden of the Alps - the cuisine is a menagerie of hearty Laden Alpine dishes, Italian classics and lightness from the Mediterranean. It is not Italian nor Austrian; it is an epicurean marriage that occasionally dips into Hungary.
With such rich pastures on the doorstep - wild spinach, bear's garlic, and forest chestnuts rub shoulders with pasta, polenta, and pizza, alongside Sauerkraut, Gulasch, Schnitzel, Heublütensuppe a delicious soup made of hay and Kaiserschmarrn. Speck headlines here as do Knödel dumplings, and not forgetting, the famous Schüttelbrot. Slow food has long been here, with the concept of mountain-to-table and centuries-old preserving methods being common ground. Farmers here are naturally organic, ethical and regard themselves as the custodians of the lands. Deep forests, wild meadows, lakes and micro-climates ensure a rich bounty: vineyards, apple plantations (producing 300 million kilos per annum) are cultivated on sun-blessed hillside terraces; cows, goats and sheep raised in mountain pastures; trout from streams fed by ice-cold glaciers; game and mushrooms from the forests.
Boasting more Michelin-starred restaurants in one place than anywhere else in Italy, South Tyrolians officially trademarked South Tyrol food in 1976 — making the region the first in Europe to receive such a designation. South Tyrol is arguably a serious foodie capital, and the hotel restaurants are certainly at the forefront of both fine and comfort dining, most being stand-out addresses for serious foodies.
Whether you gravitate towards a Schnapps or a Grappa, South Tyrol is a mecca for the heroes of slow-food bound with ancient Ladin's food culture, empirical Austro-Hungarian and, of course, Italy.
Meet the Chefs of South Tyrol from the Mountains to lakeside.
Albin Widmann is Chef at the Seehotel Ambach, the cult lakeside refuge on Caldaro Lake's shores in South Tyrol. Dramatic nature, funky interiors, and an architectural landmark are also a famed bolthole for good food connoisseurs.
A slow-food philosophy that Chef Massimo Geromel describes as 'keeping things simple, pure and rooted', he presides over the culinary realms of the MIRAMONTI, a style hotel and spa destination in Avelengo/Hafling, South Tyrol/Alto Adige.
An established wellness resort and eco-certified hotel, Chef Zoncato has developed a unique food philosophy to mirror its legacy DNA of organics, its natural setting and balanced 'live well' ethos.
Marc Bernhart is the chef at the Weisses Kreuz Hotel in Burgeis, South Tyrol - a hip maverick who casts his flavour nets both close to home as well as wide.