Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sud Tirol: Cortaccia, Termeno

Italy’s oldest wine road
A charming spot in Cortaccia
As you move farther north, the Sud Tirol aspect of the region becomes more dominant, as does the German language. According to the 2011 census, 96.25% of the population here speak German, while only 3.36% speak Italian.

In this region, all signs are written in German first, then Italian
While in Mezzocorona the other day, I noticed some unusual chalk marks above the bar where we stopped for coffee and hot chocolate. Lucia explained that it's a kind of code, showing that carolers came by this bar on the feast of the Epiphany, (January 6). As we traveled to other villages in the region, I saw many more of these markings on the doors of homes and businesses where the carolers stopped.

This shows that carolers visited this bar this year.
"The markings include letters, numbers, and crosses in a pattern like this: 20 † C † M † B † 12. The numbers correspond to the calendar year (20 and 12, for instance, for the year 2012); the crosses stand for Christ; and the letters have a two-fold significance: C, M, and B are the initials for the traditional names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), but they are also an abbreviation of the Latin blessing Christus mansionem benedicat, which means,“May Christ bless this house.”

This shows that the last time the house was visited by carolers was in 2010.
One day we visited two villages on the Strada del Vino (the road of wine), so called because it has long been used to transport wine. Though every region has its own wine road, this one is the oldest. It's a popular area for Germans to ride bikes, visiting the various villages along the way, and we saw scores of older cyclists during our visit. We visited Cortaccia and Termeno. Tramin (Termeno in Italian) is the home of the grape variety Gewürztraminer.
Italy’s oldest wine road

Church steeple in Tramin
Street view
Lucia on our hike to the church of St. Jakob
"The symbol of this village is the Gothic parish church with its 86 m tower, the highest free-standing stone masonry tower in South Tyrol. The small Romanesque church of St. Jakob at Kastelaz still preserves the most ancient cycles of frescoes in the German speaking area."

St. Jakob, the church we were hiking to
As for the food in this region, they like meat, potatoes, butter and cream. It was a bit heavy and rich for my taste, as I prefer the Mediterranean diet. But I must admit, our lunch was delicious!

Ravioli with lots of butter!
Gnochetti with spinach and lots of cream!
Enjoying the view from the church of St. Jakob
Varieties of Gewurtztraminer wine for sale in Tramin (Termeno).
I'm so very fortunate to have friends who willingly transport me through their regions, introducing me to many places and traditions that I would never have discovered on my own. Grazie mille, Lucia!

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