One of the greatest joys of my career has been organizing my Taste Trentino Culinary Tour in the Dolomites to the place of my Italian family roots in Trentino-Alto Adige. Words can’t convey the excitement of sharing this hidden gem in the majestic Dolomite mountains where my ancestors settled in the 1400s—it’s surreal! When I take my guests to the top of the mountain and admire the breathtaking views, I feel an enormous sense pride for the place of my origins. And, treating my guests to the regional food and wine I enjoyed at my family table and that form the foundation of my Italian cooking career is delicious beyond words.
When I first visited my tiny ancestral village in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy 44 years ago, emotions surged as high as the towering spires of the Dolomite mountain peaks surrounding me. The sheer beauty of the place my Nonni (grandparents) left 60 years earlier, when they immigrated to the United States, left me breathless. Discovering that my ancestor was a founding father of our village nestled in these majestic Dolomites five centuries earlier sent a shiver down my spine. The heartwarming reunion with my father’s native family felt like a generational homecoming that changed my life path forever. That first visit to return to my Italian roots rewove the threads of my heritage tapestry and inspired my immigration to Italy less than two years later when I reclaimed my Italian citizenship and lived in la bella Italia for the next 20 years.
During the time I lived in Italy (and beyond), my love affair with Trentino-Alto Adige grew passionately. I was awestruck by the spectacular natural wonders of the Dolomites surrounding my family homestead and fascinated by the region’s unique Italian-Austrian history, alpine culture, and distinctive food and wine. From polenta, canederli, and gnocchi to sausage, sauerkraut, and strudel, I explored the traditional dishes—many of which had graced my childhood table far from its enchanting land of origin.
To express my newfound love for this magical place and spread the word about my family homeland and cuisine, I presented my Nonna’s Italian Apple Cake recipe (Trentino is famous for its apple production and desserts) on a national television show in 2009. I watched with excitement as viewers became curious about the region and raved about the recipe (see video here). Then, in 2017, after years of exploring mountaintops and cultivating connections with local chefs, food producers, and winemakers, I proudly began hosting annual week-long culinary tours in Trentino-Alto Adige to share my insider’s view of this hidden gem in the Dolomites that is my family homeland.
Perhaps the best part of the culinary tours in my ancestral homeland is introducing the charming local people who proudly produce and prepare the quality alpine food and wine we taste along our travels. Chefs, winemakers, beekeepers, dairy farmers, cheesemakers, bakers, salumi makers, mountain herb-product makers, and the shining staff at our cooking classes, hotel, and restaurant dining room that warmly welcome us at every visit, tasting, and meal. I also get to expand my knowledge of the region right along with my guests during cultural excursions to local castles, museums, and cathedrals.
I hope you’ll join me for my 2024 Taste Trentino Culinary Tour—a food and wine adventure in the Dolomites! You can get all the details by visiting my website here. These are small group tours and space is limited, so reserve your spot soon : ).
In the meantime, enjoy making and eating my Nonna’s Italian Apple Cake recipe and savor an authentic slice of the Dolomites!
With love from my kitchen to yours,