As the hues turn warmer and the pace of life slows down, autumn emerges as one of the finest moments to explore South Tyrol, or Alto Adige. It’s also an ideal time to literally savour the season: apples, chestnuts, and wine take the centre stage in autumn. In Val Venosta alone, 1,700 farming families work year-round in orchards, producing over 300,000 tons of apples.
The valleys’ woods are abundant with chestnuts, while the region boasts numerous vineyards and wineries offering prized indigenous wines. Behind this bounty lies the dedication of local winemakers who have long embraced sustainable practices, giving rise to organic, biodynamic, and natural wines in numerous cellars.
Törggelen: An Ancient Tradition
Autumn offers numerous opportunities to relish the region’s produce, especially during the celebration of one of the oldest traditions: Törggelen. During this time, people gather in wine cellars, mountain farms, and traditional country inns to savour roasted chestnuts prepared in perforated iron pans over an open fire. These chestnuts are served hot with butter, accompanied by “Nuinen,” the new wine, and other local delicacies. Wine and chestnuts make a delightful pairing, and they can be enjoyed while strolling through vineyards and forests.
For instance, in Bressanone, guided tours can be organised to unveil the secrets of Törggelen cuisine. The journey leads to the Griesserhof estate’s cellar, where guests are welcomed by the enologist Paul for a tasting experience. The trail continues along the “Chestnut Path,” with a stop at the Burgerhof Meßner farm tavern, where chef Johannes demonstrates the preparation of typical South Tyrolean dumplings.
In the Lana region and its surroundings, above Merano, you’ll find a wealth of locales to partake in the Törggelen tradition. The Brandiskeller Rebmannhof cellars, Buschenschank Pfefferlechner, Götzfried, and Haidenhof in Cermes, as well as the Ausserhof agritourism all provide an authentic rural experience, marked by genuine food and atmosphere.
Roasted chestnuts, grape must and new wine can also be found in the ancient cellars, mills, and old mountain farms of the Alpe di Siusi. In some places, the Törggelen tradition is referred to as the “fifth season,” such as in Nalles, a picturesque village overlooking the city of Merano. The autumnal colours invite you to take a lovely walk among the vineyards, chestnut groves, and woods, exploring charming villages and concluding your journey with a culinary stop.
The quintessential autumn fruit takes centre stage at various events. From October 15 to November 5, the towns of Lana, Foiana, Tesimo, and Prissiano host “Keschtnriggl,” or “Chestnut Days,” named after the tool historically used to peel chestnuts. During this period, select restaurants offer special tasting menus featuring chestnuts, with recipes that blend ancient flavours and new combinations. Lunch can be paired with a forest hike guided by a local forest ranger or farmer, eager to reveal the secrets of this fruit.
Raise Your Glasses High
For wine enthusiasts, the pinnacle event celebrating the industry’s excellence is the “Merano WineFestival,” scheduled this year from November 3 to 7. Approximately 1,200 carefully selected labels, producers, talented chefs, and culinary artisans gather for a celebration of the “art of living” in all its forms.