Thanksgiving, South Tyrol style!
There are many reasons to consider a visit to South Tyrol during fall: lower airfares, fewer tourists, Indian summer temperatures and wonderful panoramas of the valleys with the multicolored foliage, are just few examples.
But there is one more reason that makes a visit to this region a one-of-a-kind experience and one that nowhere else to be found.
While during the same time in the East Coast in the United States, buses loaded with visitors travel along the New England coast to enjoy the view of the beautiful foliage, in South Tyrol we experience the same phenomena for a different reason. From October through the end of November, exists a fifth season in South Tyrol: Törggelen!
What does Törggelen mean?
Törggelen is an ancient tradition originally from the Valle Isarco-Eisacktal Valley that finds its roots in the farming culture. The origin of the word is unclear, and may have two different roots. The first references the Latin word, Torculum, a wine press, used to press the grapes during the harvest season; the second derives from the German word torkeln, that means to stagger.
According to the tradition, farmers returning with their cattle from the Alpine pastures, would meet with the winegrowers in their cellars and trade their cows for wine. Wine tastings were held next to the wine press, the Torcolum. Due to the stale and moldy air of the cellars, these tastings were later moved to the Stube – the traditional heated living room- and farm products such as cheeses, Speck, cured meats, bread and vegetables were added to the feast. After the rich meal and generous wine tastings, the farmers would return home...staggering!
Törggelen served in a typical Stube
Part of the Törggelen tradition has a reference also to the Thanksgiving season. Farmers would thank their family members, friends and all those who helped during the harvesting, by inviting them for a rich and hearty meal and wine tasting of the Süßen – unfermented sweet must – and the Nuie, the new wine.
Over time, word of these homemade meals and wine tastings spread out and guests started arriving from the nearby towns, transforming Törggelen from just family gatherings into a popular tradition that has been passed on until today.
Where can you experience Toerggelen?
The best area where to fully experience Törggelen is the Valle Isarco-Eisacktal Valley northwest of Bolzano. Traditionally, a Törggelen should be always following a pleasant walk along the chestnut-covered trails, immersed in the spectacular foliage colors. The popular Keschtnweg – Chestnuts trail – is 37 miles long and runs through Valle Isarco-Eisacktal, starting from the village of Novacella until the Renon plateau, just north of Bolzano, passing through farmhouses, villages, churches and castles.
Along the way, you can stop in one of the many Buschenschänke, farmers’ inn, that you can find along the trail and taste the delicious food and wine. The origin of the Buschenschänke, can be traced back to the Middle Ages when princes would grant farmers the right to sell their wine for a few months only to wanderers. These small inns were recognizable by a branch decorated with a red ribbon, called Buschen, that would hang at the entrance – a symbol that is still used nowadays.
Feldthurns Castle, one of the many stops along the Keschnweg
What is a typical Törggelen Menu?
An authentic Törggelen is compromised of a hearty feast of Knoedel (bread dumplings), Schlutzkrapfen (pasta pockets), assorted cured meats such as Speck and Kaminwurst, Kirchtagkrapfen, fritters with poppy seeds or red currant, Strauben (Funnel cake) and Keschtn, roasted chestnuts, all washed down with the new wine.
Chestnuts are not only the star of these meals, they are also the major ingredients of several delicious recipes like Chestnut Spätzle (egg noodles) with leek and bacon strips, chestnut cake, chestnut cream with fruit garnish, just to name a few.
The Star of Toerggelen! Roasted chestnuts
Knödel - Bread dumplings
Brettljause, the typical cold cuts plate
Gerstsuppe or Barley soup, a traditional fall and winter dish
If you are interested in discovering this area with an English speaking local guide that will lead you along these trails and experience an authentic Törggelen feast with wine tasting, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would love to share our experience and knowledge of the territory with you!