Bolzano, Bolzano, Bolzano
The other day, a good friend offered to split a bruschetta appetizer with me with the firm and gentle warning of someone who has heard this many times before; “I know it won’t be as good as the bruschetta in Bolzano.”
It made me laugh and cringe a little bit. Have I really been talking about bruschetta since I left Italy in 2011? Yes, yes I have.
When I was studying abroad in Trento, a friend that I was with told me she and her friends had discovered the most incredible bruschetta. Coming from an Italian, I knew this was legit. It was the weekend I had gone to visit my good friend Patrick in Leuven, having tasted there the most amazing roasted herbed chicken. But that is for another post. It was a tiny city called Bolzano where the people there are more likely to speak German and Italian than to speak any English. And she was right.
The town is tiny. The train stopped in the middle of the town, hidden in a valley of the Alps. As you walk out the train station, you are immediately in the middle of things, passing by fountains with frogs shooting water out of their mouth. The piazza is filled with children running, the streets of cobblestone, the people having espresso at outdoor cafes facing the grand mountains. The streets are lined with spices, cheese, fruits, meats, bread and vegetables. In fact, I still have a jar full of spices I brought home. There will be sausage stands and pretzel stands and more sausage stands. A little taste of Germany with an Italian twist.
It is the most enchanting looking restaurant you will have ever seen. It is completely outdoors, with tables and chairs situated underneath Chinese lanterns, paper lanterns, twinkling white lights and odd pieces of wood with random quotes on them. The owner, who you will be quick to spot, is a delightful man who looks like Albert Einstein, speaks English, French, Italian and German and is quick to pour you a tall glass of wine.
The most concise directions I can give you is go through the shops, walk to the end, turn right, and pass the chocolate store (by pass, obviously I mean go in) and viola. Its not like Bolzano is so big you will miss it but it is not the most obvious place. Fishbanke.
The menus are laminated, the bruschetta is brought to you by the owner’s wife or son and you will be quick to judge that these are the best bruschetta you will ever have. And you will bring your godmother to have bruschetta when she comes to visit. And you will endure the one-hour train delay. And you will return before leaving Italy to say goodbye. And the owner will be so happy to see you again, having made friends on the first visit. ‘Ah, my Canadian girls. Please come back.’ And you will spend hours trying to describe what you have had, before settling on the words pure perfection. And years later, you will still talk about the bruschetta like they were on old lover.