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Nov 9, 2010 07:24 PM

Where to stay, Bolzano or Trento?

I am planning a trip to Italy for next fall, and would like to spend 3 days in the Alto Adige. We will have a car and will be touring during the day and returning to our base at night for dinner. Which of these cities offers the more interesting food options? It appears that the cuisine in Bolzano is basically Austrian while in Trento it is Italian, but is it really so clearly delineated, or is there an overlap? We will also be in Venice and Alba, so something that will contrast with the food in these regions would be nice. Also, ideas for lunch in the countryside would be much appreciated.

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  1. It does appear to get more Austrian as you go North. I know this will only add to the difficult choice but Trento - the town - has many and better food options than Bolzano - the town. Trento has, for example, Le Due Spade and Locanda Margon and Lo Scrigno del Duomo.

    But...the countryside around Bolzano, even a bit North is probably where the densest population of interesting restaurants are, such as Gasthof Krone in Aldino and Zur Rose in Appiano.

    There are also previous posts on the Dolomites such as this one:

      1. re: BN1

        Thanks, r.v. and BN1. I had seen the earlier threads, and that's why I asked the question. I had originally planned to stay in Trento, but then thought Bolzano looked intriguing, and wondered if high-quality Austrian food might be a nice variation. Now I'm leaning toward Trento again, and we would do a day trip to Bolzano and probably have lunch in one of the places in the surrounding countryside.

        1. re: rrems

          Did you find this one?

          I confess to really liking Bolzano, although I enjoy Trento also. This last February, we enjoyed the hiking trails above Bolzano in 70 degree weather. I find the Austrian influence intriguing and the town is small enough to easily find your way around with an excellent bus service. I get lost in Trento. Also, you can explore the food options in villages around Bolzano by cable car.

          1. re: BN1

            Thanks, BN1, I had not seen that thread. I have plenty of time to decide, so will do some more research and consider the options.

            1. re: rrems


              Are you sure you can do a day trip to Bolzano from Trento? My recollection is that the mountain driving is really demanding, and not something you would want to do twice in one day. Maybe see Bolzano on your way to Venice?

              Foodwise, have you given any thought to staying in Friuli Venezia-Guilia? If you go as far as Trieste, which is not hard to do at all, you could get some really interesting Austrian influenced food, and the variety of food in the region -- as a contrast to Venice and Alba -- is pretty startling. But I also recommend the center of Friuli, and the carnic alps. It's not hard to get around with a car.

              I know there are a lot of high-end highly creative restaurants in the Alto-Adige area because it has a LOT of money rolling through it, but on a recent trip there, I didn't go to any of them. (I just was doing something different). But I was struck that simple locally made food did taste the best to me -- meaning, cheese is really good there. In autumn, the apples were outstanding. Speck can be sublime. So I would plan some of your meals around the idea you will enjoy market-bought food.

              1. re: barberinibee

                The road follows the Adige River valley. I think my map map shows 52K between Bolzano and Trento on the Autostrada on which I cannot recall any sharp turns. With traffic moving at 120K per hour or better, you can do the math. Traffic, not mountian driving, is the problem on this route, as this is the main road to Austria and Germany.

                1. re: BN1

                  I'm sorry! I now realize that (for some reason), I was thinking Belluno instead of Bolzano. The road between Trento and Bolzano is straightforward. Should you want to avoid traffic issues or drink wine, it's 40 minute train ride.

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    Belluno, you are talking mountain roads now! I drove Trento to
                    Soave by way of Vicenza this year and it is a beautiful drive on a good road. The drive from Trento to Soave via Verona on the Autostrada is really hard because of all the traffic. It is usually stop and go. When I was blocked out of Bolzano at Christmas one year, I had to drive all the way to Verona to find a hotel and dinner. I'd have to say the food was worth it in retrospect.

                    1. re: BN1

                      I'm planning a trip to Vicenza and its environs, and would love to hear any food recs you have for the area. The food of the Veneto seldom grabs me -- and I have a near-allergy to polenta. I do love its wines though. I was thinking of staying around the area of Custoza/Valeggio sul Mincio at least part of the time.

                      On a recent trip near Belluno, I was behind the wheel and my husband had the map, and I spent a morning of challenging driving west to east, through stunning mountain scenery -- but when we stopped for lunch, I told my husband to please find us a valley road for the afternoon, I'd had enough of second gear. He showed me the map -- we were surrounded by mountains. It took us hours to find out way out, but it was beautiful.

                      I had good luck driving the autostrade from Friuli Venezia-Giulia to Cremona with very light traffic, perhaps because it was the weekend.

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        We had a nice lunch in Vicenza a few years ago, but I cannot remember the name of the restaurant. It was very reasonably priced. I will search my files and see if I can find it. In Verona we had lunch at Greppia. We loved the bollito misto. The pastas were tasty but a bit on the heavy side. Very popular place, not touristy and good value. The best place we went to in the area was La Rucola in Sirmione, on Lake Garda, not far from Custoza or Valeggio sul Mincio. This was one of the best meals I've had in Italy. The cooking I would describe as updated traditional with some interesting twists. We had a particularly wonderful wine from the Veneto there. One of the lowest priced on the list, it was highly recommended by the excellent sommeliere, I don't know if they still have it, but It is called Bradisismo and the producer is Inama. I've been buying it in the US ever since (it's more expensive here, but worth it). Very similar to Amarone, but without the sticker shock. We are planning to stop at La Rucola for lunch on our way from Venice to Alto Adige.

                        1. re: rrems

                          Thank you very much for that guidance!

                          By the way, if you are fond of Bollito Misto and are ever in Parma, Ristorante Cocchi at the Hotel Daniel specializes in it, and serves it with glistening bowls of jewel-like mostarda, or sliced artichockes in season.. Its other food -- especially its proscuitto and also its hand-made pastas are top-notch, as other other specialties like long-cooked beef cheeks -- I could go on and on. The service is wonderful. Reservations are essential. Were I staying a few days in Parma, I would stay in this hotel just to eat dinner there every night. It's a 20 minute walk through the park to Parma's historic center. It has parking.


                          In Verona, I enjoyed a very nice lunch at the rather elegant Trattoria al Bersagliere, which was filled with stagehands setting up for the opera. It was not a light meal, however!


                          I hated Bottega del Vino in Verona, but since then I've often visited their NYC branch, and love their wines and small dishes.

      2. So far it looks like Trento is the winner. We will be going there from Venice, and to Alba afterward, and it is closer than Bolzano to those cities. The restaurants look interesting and we will be able to walk to dinner. The short distance to Bolzano will allow us to explore some of the surrounding area, have lunch, and tour the city of Bolzano. I have started researching restaurants in and around Bolzano for lunch. Zur Rose looks particularly appealing, but I will continue to check out the multitude of other possibilities. Any further insights would be welcome.

        1. Half an hour driving from T to B. The ethnic border is right in the middle. Talking about food you won't find real differences. Historically T is a Roman city while B is a village on a river junction. Now are pretty much the same size.
          Zur Rose ok. Marklhof intersting as well.
          In Trento 2 Spade. Near T Maso Cantanghel and Tre Colombe in Fornace can be good tips. Not many foreigners in the latter.
          Many interesting staurants in the Dolomites. Malga Panna and El Molin maybe the most interesting on the Italian side.
          For an intriguing experience (food + accomodation) consider, near Bolzano. Only by cable car.

          1. I spent 3 nights in Trento in June.
            Thought you might like to see my blog/travel diary from that time:


            Feel free to ask any questions.