Historically, Trentino Alto-Adige region did not see the kind of upheaval the rest of Italy had to endure. The southern areas (Trentino) were incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire, and afterward were ceded to the Hapsburgs. The northern areas (Alto-Adige) were part of the country of Tyrol, which was under Bavarian control and then incorporated by the Hapsburgs. Then Napoleon conquered. Following Napoleonic control, it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
If someone were looking for a blend of German and Italian Cultures, he would need look no further than the area of Trentino Alto-Adige in northern Italy. At the end of the Western Roman Empire, the area fell into the hands of Germanic tribes. Eventually, the Marquisate of Verona came to control the southern part of the region known as Trentino, while the northern part, Bolzano or Alto-Adige, came under the control of the Duchy of Bavaria. The competing influences of Italian Verona and German Bavaria resulted in a cultural confluence similar to that seen in Alsace.
The area of Trentino Alto-Adige today shows its multicultural heritage in its cuisine and its winemaking. The northern Alto-Adige specializes in smoked meats and goulash. Specifically, they make “speck,” a delicacy made by cutting pork into small squares and hanging it in a bag filled with saltpeter, juniper, wood, laurel, garlic, and other herbs. Trentino, on the other hand, uses large quantities of polenta, a creamy corn meal-based dish, which is a staple of northeastern Italian cuisine.
The duality of German and Italian culture is found in the region’s wines. In Alto-Adige, the wines are typically German varietals made in an Italian style. Muller-Thurgau, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Lagrein, and Pinot Gris make up the majority of these wines. Not only are some of the grapes of German origin, but the wines also show a mineralic character reminiscent of the Rheingau and Mosel. The wines of Trentino show the Italian influence in that the wines are ultimately drinkable. Trentino Pinot Grigio and Lagrein are two of the easiest wines to drink in today’s marketplace. While the Trentino Alto-Adige region boasts no DOCG wines, it does produce the largest percentage of quality wine in Italy. Nearly 80% of the wine produced in the region falls under a DOC.
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