December 16, 2007

History's roots

I've been away for a few days traveling by ski trail between the Alto Adige and Trentino regions up North. In Trentino, we felt like we were in Italy, lift workers spoke Italian and there were more types of pasta than just spaghetti al rag├╣ on the menu. When we passed over the border into Alto Adige, we felt like we had gone abroad, lift workers (and the Hotel) spoke German and the menu carried many sorts of wurstel. Although we were always in Italy, we had touched first hand the effects of History. This area has its roots somewhere between "high" Adige or "south" Tirol and although over half a century has passed since it is officially part of Italy, part of its soul lies elsewhere.

a domani from Rome,


Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Larc! I missed you.

Years ago my husband and I visited Alto Adige, and I must say it was the most foreign I have ever felt in my life. Not so much because I refused them as because they did not want to communicate with my husband, their brother-of-sorts, in Italian in the hotel. Perhaps one is made to feel foreign more by such rejection than by any cultural differences or queer ethnic habits. Upon returning back to "Italy" I definitely felt at home.

Welcome back! I missed your dialect.


Jennifer said...

We live nearish to that area, and it does give you the feeling that you've crossed a border. Once, a shopkeeper up that way said to my Italian husband, "Voi in Italia..." and he retells the story every time we go.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photograph!

David in the dolomites said...

Travelling north by train recently, I noticed that the germanic area does seem to start around Bolzano/Bolzen, which looks more like Austria and even southern Germany than it does like central Italy. Unfortunately, on the way back, the train stoppecd running on time at the Italian border... so Alto Adige is still part of Italy.

I think that we are lucky to have this little part of Austria in northern Italy. The wurstl and brown bread are a nice change of pace from Italian food every now and then. Thankfully, many people speak Italian in the shops (at least better than I speak German), even if not at home. One influence of the alto aldige region seems to be to improve the general level of services and efficiency even in Trentino.

Italy was awarded with this area after the war, so now we have german speakers in Italy and italian speakers in Slovenia. Everyone has to learn Italian in school, but culturally the region is closer to Salzburg than Roma. Moving the border of Italy a bit north has, at least, made the transition to germanic central europe more gradual and some cities a bit more bilingual. There is nothing like a first course of pasta followed by a tasty gulasch for secondo to warm you up after skiing.

Elizabeth Abbot said...

David, thanks for the thoughtful comment. One son is studying in Trento and I go back and forth regularly to enjoy the differences.
We once vacationed in slovenia, on the Isonzo river where we rented an apartment for a few days. The quite elderly grandmother translated between us and her daughter -- she spoke fluent Italian from her youth (when that area was part of Italy) while her children learned Russian as a second language at school.