Apples and Fall Days in Trentino’s Val di Non

Forest trail in the Val di Non - near Rumo

Forest trail in the Val di Non – near Rumo

There are fall days in Northern Italy, when celebrating harvest season makes us comment that the subalpine region of Val di Non is wonderful and bountiful. Nestled among the Trentino mountains, beyond the capital city of Trento and a wide well kept tunneled highway, the valley, accessible by train and car, is a paradise for those who love thriving fruit orchards, green vineyards, nature trails with hiking options, castles, medieval fresco-ed churches, and reasonably prices for meticulously well kept hospitality places.

Melinda apples

Melinda apples

Val di Non is the home of Melinda apples famous throughout Europe, as well as good wines, hearty food specialties, free flowing waters, and people whose culture and actions played a role throughout centuries in Northern Italy and throughout the world. 30 minutes from Trentino’s regional capital by car or by a train which leaves every hour from Trento’s rail road station, the valley opens to beautiful and lush hills and mountains, alpine lakes, and forests which then lead to other valleys and regions such as Val di Sole; the ski and summer resort town of Madonna di Campiglio (north east); the Mendola Pass and the city of Bolzano (north west).
For visitors familiar with North American and Mexican history, the valley is also the ancestral home region where a portion of Sonora and Arizona’s history began in 1645 with the birth of Eusebio Chini di Francesco, known as Padre Kino.

Padre Kino as depicted in Segno and in Tucson, Arizona on Padre Kino Boulevard

Padre Kino as depicted in Segno and on Padre Kino Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona

This “Noneso” Jesuit Missionary, born in Segno and baptized in Torra, who at home spoke Italian and German, became to many Native Americans and U.S. citizens a beacon of Christianity. He founded 24 Missions in Sonora, Arizona, and California before dying in Santa Magdalena de Kino, Mexico in 1711.

Fresco depicting Padre Kino south of Tucson, Arizona

Fresco depicting Padre Kino south of Tucson, Arizona

Retracing the history of the famous native Jesuit Missionary will be easier after visiting Segno’s Eusebio Chini Museum and perhaps stopping overnight at Loretta’s Agritur La Pieve, located on top of the hill just below the church where Padre Kino was baptized in 1645. The cultural Associazione was founded in 1992 to promote the knowledge of this “Trentino” and what Eusebio di Francesco Chini did during his life in North America, especially among the Pima and Papago Natives.
For a comfortable stay overnight and a superb homemade breakfast, undoubtedly everyone would enjoy turning into Loretta’s Agriturismo La Pieve. The impeccably maintained bed-breakfast place is owned and managed by the family Dallaserra. Loretta is the most incredibly generous hostess when it comes to preparing what is the La Pieve’s delicious morning feast. Homemade pies, fresh rolls with butter and jam or honey, cold cuts, fresh fruit, teas, coffees and cappuccinos are served daily for those who then leave for hikes and sightseeing outings and return in the afternoon for a dip in the refreshing pool. Carlo, the farmer husband, is the provider of fresh fruit which comes right from his orchards located at the foot of the hill dominated by La Pieve facing the Paganella Mountain. There are three generations involved in this friendly Val di Non style hospitality, with children Cristina and Alessandro, both pitching in with their respective spouses and children.

From Segno up to La Pieve and Torra

From Segno up to La Pieve and Torra

Loretta's Agritur La Pieve, Torra

Loretta’s Agritur La Pieve, Torra

La Pieve's Swimming Pool, Torra

La Pieve’s Swimming Pool, Torra

Associazione Culturale Padre Eusebio Francisco Chini’s Museum : Piazza Padre Eusebio Chini, 38010 Segno; Tel. + 39 + 0463 + 468248 or via email: or or in the internet at:
Agriturismo La Pieve: Via San Eusebio, 4 38012 Torra di Taio (TN) Tel.Fax. + 39 – 0463 469510; mobile: + 39 – 340 249 1378; mobile: + 39 – 348 9779871 or via email: or in the internet at:

Driving through the valley, or stopping to visit medieval castles built on steep rock formations, can also be a lesson in local and international history. Val di Non was the home region of Bernardo Clesio (1485-1539), the Counselor of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Prince Bishop who actively pursued the implementation of the Great Council of Trento (1542-1563) which led to an agreement over a reorganization of the Roman Catholic Church and a resolution of some of the worst conflicts between Protestants and Catholics.

Passed Tuenno, towards Cles, continue on a curved and turning road towards Lake Tovel. This is a lovely place for a refreshing dip or for a walk along the water basin famous for its seasonal redness. The cool mountain lake (600 m altitude), besides being clean and beautiful, has a rare and very ancient protozoic organism which during the months of July August and September colors the southern part of the lake red.

Lake of Tovel, Val di Non

Lake of Tovel, Val di Non

Wanting to know more about Val di Non and its historic past will require a visit to Cles, where a Roman table of law registering the negotiation between the Romans and the Val di Non inhabitants (Tavola Clesiana – 46 DC) is still preserved. Cles’ S. Maria Church with its beautiful XII century Annunciation frescoes and the Palazzo Assessorile, first built as a fortified tower, probably around the XIII century, sold later by one noble family to another, and finally home to the Clesio family, will add an interesting perspective to the understanding of the valley’s role during Roman-Medieval and Renaissance times as well as in international political and religious history.

Ancient Residence of the Clesio family, Palazzo Assessorile, Cles, Val di Non

Ancient Residence of the Clesio family (built around the early XIV century), Palazzo Assessorile, Cles, Val di Non

Northern Italians have mastered smoking meats and making hams and sausages since ancient times. In fact, the ancient inhabitants of Northern Italy of Celtic origin were major providers of prosciutto to the ancient Romans before prosciutto di Parma became famous. Salted pork and boar and pork sausages were well known Celtic specialties as early as 100 A.D. (Kurlanski p. 56) and pork specialties have remained a reliable source of animal protein in Val di Non since before medieval times when lords in castles fought for territorial supremacy and political power. Salt for curing meats was dug out from the Alpine mountains. Raising pigs fed on acorns, chestnuts, mushrooms, truffles, beets, including field roots, along steep terraced mountain areas required little space compared to raising cows. Among the most renown pork products prepared in the Val di Non is the MORTANDELA (not to be confused with mortadella, please).

Val di Non's Mortandela as sold at Massimo il Goloso, Coredo, Val di Non

Val di Non’s Mortandela as sold at Massimo il Goloso, Coredo, Val di Non

Massimo Goloso, Mortandela and Sausage Maker in Coredo, Val di Non

Massimo Goloso, Mortandela and Sausage Maker in Coredo, Val di Non

DAL MASSIMO GOLOSO Macelleria (Butcher Shop), Salumeria (Sausage Shop), Coredo, Via Cigni, 6, Tel. +39 0463 and Pellizano, Piazza Ponte 1, Tel. +39 0463 750853 or contact via email Davide or Massimo: or in the internet // or

This Val di Non pork product is not the Mortadella, also called Bologna, but a very firm, dark, ground pork meat patty pressed together with corn meal, spices, herbs, and smoked over beech wood and aromatic herbs. The sausage specialty which looks like a chubby hamburger patty is generally either fried and served with polenta or used in dishes which call for pork sausage or regional dishes such as Mortandela risotto and fist-sized dumplings called Canederli.

Producing cheeses in Northern Italy has undergone a steady and gradual transformation; from a traditional home based type of cheese making production, North Italian cheese making has shifted to a modern and industrial way to produce, store, age, sell, and use regional cheeses which are not only used locally but also exported worldwide.
Making cheese is a basic result of processing either whole, or partially defatted cow or goat milk. Milk fat is either partially or entirely removed; milk is heated to an ideal coagulation temperature; “caglio,” also called “presame,” which turns the coagulated milk in “cagliata” is added; the “cagliata” is removed either raw or “cooked” at various temperatures; “cagliata” is placed in containers, called “fascere” (molds of various sizes and shapes), left to drain and readied for seasoning. Seasoning the cheese with salt has two main purposes: one to give flavor to the cheese and the other to support the solidification of the cheese form. After the seasoning stage the cheese is placed in the appropriate aging storage places. The length of the aging process is determined by the type of cheese the cheese maker wants to produce.Each single variety of cheese requires its own special ripening and aging method with its own degree of humidity and temperature. During the aging stage the cheese placed on shelves called “scalera” undergoes a natural type of “pre-digesting” process which will turn it into a nutritious food easily assimilated. According to the type of cheese this last process can last either only a few hours (for the soft and fresh cheeses) or a few days (for the soft cheeses) or two or more years for cheeses such as the Trentin Grana.

A cooked cylindrical semi hard cheese that is very similar to the Grana Padano. Usually 35-45 centimeters [13-18 inches] wide in diameter; 18-25 centimeters [7-10 inches] high; weighing approximately between 24-40 Kilograms [52-88 lbs]; with a fat content that can vary between 32-42% and a TRENTINGRANA wording branded on the rind that varies in thickness between 4-8 millimeters [0.15-0.31 inches]), this cheese has been produced in the home valley of Father Kino since about 1926 (Pinarelli at when a cheese maker moved from the home region of Parmigiano Reggiano to the Val di Non. Like Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, it is grainy and aged slowly. According to the season of production of the cheese and whether the cheese rounds are at the beginning or at the end of their aging process or whether they show the upper side of the cheese (testa) or the bottom part (coda) before they are turned upside down, Grana Trentino comes also labeled either VERNENGO (if produced between November 1st and April 30th ) or MAGGENGO (if produced between May 1st and October 31st).

Trentin Grana wheels aging at the Caseificio di Coredo, Val di Non

Trentin Grana wheels aging at the Caseificio di Coredo, Val di Non

CASEIFICIO SOCIALE DI COREDO, Il Gusto della Tradizione, Via S. Romedio, 21 38010 Coredo, Tel. +39 0463 536 231 or contact on the internet at

Among the regional wines produced throughout this valley, besides the Teroldego and the local Chardonnays, are also two regional wines: the almost forgotten Groppello, also known as Gropel or Gropel Nones, and the very new recent white Aromera, both produced by a “Noneso” winemaker called Lorenzo Zadra son of a Zeremia Zadra. Wine production of the Groppello in Val di Non was in and thriving until the late 20th century when the Austrian Hungarian Emperor Francis Joseph on his way to Madonna di Campiglio used to order barrels and barrels of Groppello, a somewhat peppery light red table wine. During the years that preceded World War I, among the red wines traditionally produced and sold, Val di Non’s Groppello‘s production amounted to about 35,000 hl of wine, being together with Lambrusco and Valpolicella wines the third most popular wine in Northern Italy. After World War II with new industrial trend setting wine choices Val di Non’s Groppello wines almost disappeared until chef Zeremia Zadra, rediscovered it, inherited his Dad’s vineyard and decided to push it again. Today’s groppello produced, bottled, sold and distributed by his son at his Azienda Agricola El Zeremia is listed among the important heritage wines of this region.

Red Groppello and White Aromera, Azienda Agricola EL ZEREMIA, Revo,' Val di Non

Red Groppello and White Aromera, Azienda Agricola EL ZEREMIA, Revo,’ Val di Non

AZIENDA AGRICOLA EL ZEREMIA, 38028 Revo’, Trento, Via 4 Novembre 15, Tel. +39 0463 432271 or cell + 39 347 4577525; contact Lorenzo via email: or check out in the internet at

Groppello growing area, Revo' Val di Non

Groppello growing area, Revo’ Val di Non

For hikers and courageous walkers who wish to explore the cool and green northern areas of the Val di Non and for those who love early Renaissance art there is a road that leads to Marcena, Rumo, Corte Superiore and Corte Inferiore where, with a bit of luck, and may be by calling the city hall of Marcena (Tel. 0463 530113) one can admire one among the most beautiful medieval LAST SUPPER frescoes in the region by Giovanni and Battista Beschenis who in 1471 depicted Christ and his apostles in the small 12th century church dedicated to Saint Ulderico. And, back to Marcena plan a relaxing week end in the elegant modern Spa Hotel Albergo Cavallino Bianco where they welcome you with dining and wine and indoor or outdoor sauna pool treatments.

Last Supper Fresco, Saint Udalrico Church (1421), Corte Superiore, Val di Non

Last Supper Fresco, Saint Udalrico Church (1421), Corte Superiore, Val di Non

Hotel Cavallino Bianco, Outdoor and Indoor Convertable Pool, Sauna and Spa, Marcena/Rumo, Val di Non

Hotel Cavallino Bianco, Outdoor and Indoor Convertable Pool, Sauna and Spa, Marcena/Rumo, Val di Non

First course at the Cavallino Bianco - Hearty corn and potato dumplings topped with Trentin Grana, butter, sage and leeks

First course at the Cavallino Bianco – Hearty corn and potato dumplings topped with Trentin Grana, butter, dill, sage and leeks

HOTEL ALBERGO CAVALLINO BIANCO, Via Marcena,6 – 38020 RUMO (Trento), Tel + 39 0463 531040; for bookings or information contact the Fedrigoni family via email at or check on the internet at


Serves 4
400 gr. or about 4 cups of risotto rice
3 Tbsp light olive oil
1 3-4 oz onion, trimmed, peeled, minced
100 gr or about 4 oz. mortandela, chopped
½ head of radicchio, trimmed, rinsed, chopped
Salt to taste or about 1-2 tsp) and freshly ground pepper
2 cups either chicken or beef broth, defatted, heated
1 cup red Groppello wine
1-2 tbsp butter
Enough grated cheese to top the risotto before serving it (about ½ cup)
In a medium large sauce pan heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until glossy and limp. Add the rice and stir it into the sautéed onion until all rice kernels are shiny. Season with salt and gradually while stirring constantly pour the wine into the broth and pour 1 cup of broth wine at the time. Add and stir the rice and the liquid until the rice has absorbed almost all the broth and wine. Add the mortandela and the radicchio and cook at least 5 more minutes. The risotto is almost ready to be served when the rice kernels are “al dente” (firm but not hard to the bite). Before turning off the heat add the butter and stir the rice; turn the heat off; cover the risotto allowing the butter to melt into the rice (about 2 minutes) and serve with abundant grated Trentin Grana cheese. Serve as a first course either with a glass of Groppello or a glass of Teroldego Rotaliano DOC.

One thought on “Apples and Fall Days in Trentino’s Val di Non

  1. Elisabetta, I loved reading about this region. I love to remember the two times I traveled in this region, with its bountiful apple orchards and lush vineyards and its wonderful food. Thank you for sending it. Please keep me on your list.

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