“Where are you from?”
This answer is usually enough to make eyes sparkle, while images of excellent food, stunning architecture and picture-perfect Tuscan countryside flood the mind of the person I’m talking to. It is, however, a short-lived dream, which gets abruptly interrupted by the question that normally comes next.
“What part of Italy?”
“I’m from Trentino – South Tyrol.”
The sparkling eyes fade into a puzzled look.
“It’s a region in Northern Italy” I add convincingly.
“…bordering on Austria and Switzerland…?”
Nothing. No sign of recollection. The sparkle has gone.
The truth is, most people don’t know about my region. And even when they do, they don’t normally associate it with Italy. In all fairness, it doesn’t quite look like Italy.
Nearly completely mountainous, Trentino – South Tyrol is a land of forests and lakes, where villages are small and isolated and cows still graze freely in high mountain pastures, often with the stunning Dolomites as a backdrop. I affectionately think of it as my own version of The Shire, as I can hardly imagine a place more beautiful, more peaceful or more bucolic.
There is something almost magical about it. Despite being born and raised here, I can’t help being fascinated by the sheer beauty of its landscapes. I feel grateful and proud that I can call this place home and I know that – wherever life will take me and no matter which new summits I’ll climb – these are, and always will be, my mountains.
I’m from Trentino – South Tyrol. And I look forward to sharing more of it with you.
Date of travel: 22nd March 2013
The photographs in this article were all taken three weeks ago during a late afternoon hike to Stöffl Hütte, a cosy hut located in the heart of the Villanderer Alp in South Tyrol, at 2,057 m. This is the first of several articles I’m going to write about my region, you’ll find them all under the tag Trentino – South Tyrol.