Take for example Trentino Alto Adige, the gateway to “Bel Paese”.
Coming from Austria and its cataplexy-indulging-90 kph highways, you scramble to the first available decent coffee cup together with all your Italian fellow travellers, who need to unleash their caffeine addiction after the torture of seeing foreigners order cappuccino after breakfast or „latte“ after dinner, and you get a creamy „marocchino“ in the first available “autogrill”, where you find more goodies than in the fanciest Italian grocery boutique abroad. As expected, it is perfectly creamy, with a hint of cocoa powder (alas lacking a bottom layer of Nutella and not poured in a glass with the typical Arabic-looking metal frame, but life is never perfect) but served in … German language.
The same language greeting you in the highway toll boot, another Italian staple but with a twist of Habsburg rigor. All the road signs are by law shown in both Italian and German language, and I am honestly surprised that “piazza Giuseppe Verdi” is not raped into a “Josef Grüne Platz”. MiniFiats and MaxiAudis ramble along tiny streets, there are more bikes around than in any average Italian town but, after all, sitting in a 4-wheeler honking and moseying your way home is an undeniable masochist addiction for the locals, wearing a number of sandals on white socks unusually high compared to the average of the fashion-conscious Italian dudes.
A short hike to stretch your legs before dinner and you come across a whole bonanza of fresh fruit in a few inches of orchard: the biggest and tastiest plums I ever saw, bushes con-stellated by cranberries, basil forests, pears with water pearls skin, and apples. Everywhere.
Asked about the availability of some food for dinner, the owner timidly replies “well… ehm… we might have some local food, you know…. simple stuff… if you don’t mind… like bresaola di cer…” and then you stop them and say YES, yes to everything you have. If “simple stuff” is “bresaola di cervo”, meaning home-mad, fat-free, paradisiacal deer cured meat, you don´t need any other description. An aperitivo drink made of fresh apple juice, local red wine and a sprinkle of blueberries syrup opens a feast of home-made “luganega” wild boar sausages, the typical “mortandela” sausage blessed by an unusual lightness and delicacy, flavourful “Speck”, fantastic aged cheese (simply called “nostrano vecchio”, literally “one of our kind, elderly”) and fresh fontina served with home-made cranberry marmalade, smoked Provola served with fluffy potatoes pancake so similar to the bohemian “bramboracky” but so much lighter being spared the usual oil bath and garlic massage. And their home wine “Teroldego” is as a true red-blood ink, dark, thick, honest, delivering the best balance to such a tasty meal, washing down the protein maelstrom of the cheese platter and preparing your palate for a more delicate “Lagrein”, another autochthonous grape whose sweet flowery perfume and dry taste reminds you of a supreme Spanish sherry oloroso.
A few more steps along a scenic canyon and we reach “Lago Smeraldo”, an emerald green artificial pond mirroring the fluffy clouds and deep pine trees forest around. We spot a wooden construction on the other side of the lake recommended by the Rio Sass guide as THE place to eat “canederli”, the typical Tyrolean dumplings originally created to re-use bread leftovers soaked in butter and enriched with tasty local cheese and diced speck or in the colourful version with red beet that we enjoy in a trio, paired with a pitcher of the local fruity white wine.