Thursday, October 29, 2015

Finding Bad Food in Italy

Since the very day I started traveling there, I have said that you would have great difficulty in finding a bad meal in Italy. Italians are exceptionally proud of their culture and express that through their food, by keeping their recipes regional and passing them down from one generation to the next. You, as a traveler, only need to seek out restaurants that advertise regional specialties to find a good meal.

That was then, but this is now, after a visit to Bolzano. You can easily find a bad meal in Italy if you try ordering a pasta dish or a pizza in this town. Travelers expect to eat pasta in Italy, but in Bolzano, you are better off ordering Austrian specialties. Bolzano is too Austrian for the Italians and too Italian for the Austrians. You hear both languages in the streets, but there seems to be no blending of the cultures, unless you choose fusion type food, which I suspect, satisfies no one.

I was so upset after our 2nd meal, that I wondered out loud why Italy didn't just give it back to Austria. I later mentioned this to a young waiter we met from Trento, and his response was matter of fact. He said that Austria didn't want it, thinking it too Italianized. He went on to say that after World War II, when the borders changed, Italy transported many Southern Italians to Bolzano in an attempt to integrate more of their culture into the area.


If Southern Italians migrated there, what happened to their ability to make pasta? They invented tomato sauce and Pasta Puttanesca. How could they be abandoned?  The tomato based lasagne I ordered would have been better if it were the frozen product of Stoffer; ironic since the company name sounds Germanic. Our pizza was soggy; yes, we stooped to that for dinner, because we craved an Italian taste. This is something one does not expect to find in Italy, the country that invented the pizza.

Bolzano has a lively open air market in town and as we wandered through it, we saw all the ingredients one would need for making traditional Italian recipes; tomatoes, herbs, meats and classic Italian cheese. There seemed no good excuse for the lack of classic Italian dishes.

If the truth be known, we decided to add Bolzano and Trento to our itinerary, just to get away from schnitzels for awhile. As much as we liked Bolzano as a small city, we looked forward to finding good Italian food in Trento, and we did.


Bolzano is worth a trip for architecture, shopping, strolling and just about anything else except food. The one exception was the pastry, which looked spectacular, as you can see by the following photo. Those in front are made with chestnut puree and rich dark chocolate.

Having lost over 1200 digital photos during this trip, I regret to be unable to inform you of the restaurants to avoid, but I will caution you to follow your nose for the best options. If it smells good, it usually is. Just remember to not expect too much in the way of Italian fare. Here is a visual reminder:
        Special thanks to William J. Thomson for permitting the use of his photos taken in Bolzano.

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