Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol is a region of northern Italy. The region is divided into two provinces: Province of Bolzano in the north with the city of Bolzano as the capital, and the Province of Trento in the south where the city of Trento is the capital.
The majority of people in Trentino-Alto Adige speak German. However, many Italian speakers live in the capital of Bolzano. A tiny minority group called the Ladins lives in the Dolomites region where they speak an old Rheto-Romanic language. Ladin is also spoken in the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo and surrounding areas. The Ladin language that is spoken in the Fassa Valley is more like traditional Italian as the Ladins of this valley speak a language with a lot of Italian or Trentino style sentences.
Trentino is mountainous and covered by vast forests. In fact, 50% of the territory is covered with trees. The climate varies throughout the province, from an alpine climate to subcontinental one, with warm summers and cold and snowy winters. The region has always been a favorite destination for tourists, both in winter for skiing in the high mountains and in summer to visit the wide valleys and many lakes, the largest being Lake Garda.
The cuisine of this northern-most Italian region combines Germanic, Hungarian, and Italian touches, and includes such delicacies as beef goulash and fruit-stuffed gnocchi with browned butter and bread crumbs. Rather than pasta or risotto, cooks in Trentino-Alto Adige prefer to prepare polentas made of cornmeal or buckwheat, or hearty soups studded with bread dumplings. Speck, the region’s prized smoked ham, flavors numerous dishes from braised cabbage in red wine to long-simmered pork stews.
Desserts are soft and frothy and whipped cream forms clouds on top of fragrant hot chocolate in porcelain cups. Just try to resist a strudel or a slice of zelten, a kind of pizza dough with dried fruit conserved for the entire winter. Sweets in this cold climate are more than a tradition. Natives believe sugar, whipped cream, chocolate, and dried fruit fight the cold better than a wool sweater.
In an unusual divergence from southern Italian tastes, beer is a favorite drink with midday and evening meals. Beer making can be traced back for centuries in the area, and is yet another testament to the strong Germanic influence Trentino-Alto Adige enjoys.