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The Alps (Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Germany)

Pool Boy

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My wife and I are doing an Alps tour -- Switzerland (Lucerne), Italy (Lake Como and then Verona), Austria (childhood memory of a place called Schladming) and flying out of Munich in Germany.

Looking for suggestions and tips for wine touring in Italy in particular, and especially near-ish Verona. I know you have to make appointments and I need to get busy NOW since we'll soon be traveling. Any places I really should try? Tips on getting to places to look at the vineyards and maybe taste some wines (or at least have lunch or snacks nearby where I can buy some of the wines to try myself? I'd really appreciate it.

As for food and restaurants, we'll follow our noses and research, but any suggestions there are welcome. We'll be driving so we'll have a car and can go anywhere. From dives and autostrada rest stops to the finest of the fine, it's all good to me.

Thanks mucho!

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We leave for Verona and the Dolomites including Cortina (most beautiful part of them) in two weeks with Bolzano as a base. FWIW, I've stayed in Verona every year for almost twenty on business and done my best to eat my way through it.

Ristorante La Fontanina is a Michelin starred restaurant that is one of the most romantic in the world; it is a small, personal, intimate statement to the celebration of wine. I've been twice and my wife and I return on this trip. Look closely at the photos and consider that the rooms were all lit for the photos. Almost all of the light comes from candlelight. You must reserve. They speak English and respond within 24 hours to e-mails. Also, sit inside.

Andrea Fenoglio (Ristorante Sissi) is a MIchelin starred restaurant in Merano which is about 20 km north of Bolzano. The chef, Andrea Fenoglio, is BIG in Italy right now.

Zumloewen is another Michelin star in a room with Great character and hundreds of years of age about the same driving time. If you go to Cortina seriously consider Ristorante Tivoli.

Da Salvatore [no reservations] is the best pizzaria in Verona and you'll wait. Also, do you have any interest in the opera? The Arena is arguably the most spectacular place on earth to watch it. Serious: look at the photo at the top of this link. Exactly what it looks like. I would also focus on amarone and Valpolicella while around Verona. Prices are high there; if you find yourself on the Autostrada driving east the walled city of Soave [wine of Soave here] is home to a store just inside the walls (quick left and you'll see it) where Dal Forno Valpolicella sells for E52 and the Amarone about E 200. It's $200 + here for the Valpolicella. I note this because their prices are generally about 15-20% lower than Verona. Speaking of the Autostrada I absolutely love the AutoGrill paninis especially with Calabrian hot peppers which their store sells for frighteningly expensive E 10 a jar. They are the best in the world and worth it.

Any interest in either Dal Pescatore (near Mantova about 90 minutes south of Verona) or Le Calandre outside of Padua about 60 minutes east and easy to find. Both are three Michelin starred and very different. I would argue Calandre is Italy's greatest restaurant and worth crossing the ocean for on its own. A month for a reservation.

How long are you staying in Munich? We spent a week there in April including Garmisch and Salzburg. It's a Great city with outstanding cuisine that I've done my best to eat my way through. (I also passionately follow Bayern Munchen building business trips around seeing their games.)

The drive from Munich to Verona is beautiful. Innsbruck is an interesting city also. Salzburg is fantastic.

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JoeH, many thanks for the suggestions. The views of the Dolomites from Cortina are amazing. We actually saw snippets of the Dolomites on our way from Wien to Venezia last year - stunning. I'd like to see them up close. Our itinerary is a bit tight, but I'd like to squeeze in a morning in to lunch in that area if I can manage, Joe. Where would you try to focus? Also, Andrea Fenoglio's place is not in the cards for this trip I think, especially if we veer off a bit to see Cortina (same for Zum Lowen (I love the name of the place and the food sounds delicious). But Ristorante Tivoli looks possible (only if open for lunch though, probably unlikely)... We drive a lot the day (heading to Austria) we could logically squeeze time in that way.

Verona- Thanks for the tips on all the restaurants. Our plan is to stay in town except for a half day or a day visiting a few Amarone producers (one of our favorite types of wine). Any producers (preferably small) that you suggest? As for food, I'd prefer to stay in town for dinners, but your suggestion of La Calandre is compelling for a splurgeworthy experience. It's an hour drive, about my limit considering all of the driving we'll be otherwise doing on the trip, but worth considering. I can only imagine how good it can be. We want desperately to go to the Verona opera, but it looks like the season ends September 2nd [it does, with Aida] - I wonder if other live performances of another sort are put on there. I guess we'll see!

We're in Munchen for only a day and a bit, so two dinners - we're not quite sure what our plans are yet. Hoping to see some nearby castles, but our patience for driving might have worn thin by then.

Thanks again!

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Soave. Cantina di Soave is inside the walls of the old city (1000+ years old). One of the few wineries that you can visit but well worth while. Etched bottles, decanters, all kinds of memoribilia and decent wine. But a great stop. Also inside the walls of Soave is Al Gambero's entoeca which I mentioned above. Lo Scudo is outside the walls, a few blocks from the Autostrada and listed in Michelin although it does not have a star. It should. It's excellent and much more reasonably priced than a similar restaurant in, say, Verona. Roxy Plaza is a four star at the foot of the walls, about E 90 a night and really accessible and romantic. One turn from the autostrada, two block walk to Lo Scudo for dinner. Good base for a countryside exploration of the Illasi or any wine country including just driving and getting lost-finding something looking interesting and just stopping and courageously knocking on a door and asking if they'd entertain a brief visit. Some will! Some like you would never believe!

Generally, wineries are difficult to visit since most are closed to the public. Still, Cantina di Soave is an excellent stop. Whether in Al Gambero's shop or anywhere else I would look for Bussola's TB Amarone, Quintarelli or, of course, Dal Forno. Sergio Zenato amarone was the "house" amarone at Le Calandre several years ago. Bussola also has an excellent Valpolicella that (from memory) is like E 25-30 or so and really good.

There are not many Americans here and, for me, this is a plus. The walled town of Asolo is a huge attraction as is Bassano in Grappa. Fantastic salumeria in Asolo where the gravelling voiced owner will passionately lop off numerous pieces of cold cuts and cheese for free tastes then he has a cry o vac and will sell you ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN SAFELY TAKE BACK. One of the best Grappa selections around, also. (You're in Grappa country.)

Tivoli is small but really excellent in Cortina. 30 seats or so and a Michelin star. Several threads on Chowhound will talk about this also. We will go there for dinner and have already reserved. Its special and will be one of our best meals in Italy.

Munich has a GREAT wine bar three or four blocks from the Haufbahnhof, Geisel's Vinothek. You'll need a reservation for one of the seven or eight tables but the bar (10-12 seats) is open. Italian, E 40 or so for four courses and really quite good; supurb wine list. Believe it or not Munich also has a GREAT pizzaria with a lot of character and well worth the effort to go to: L'angolo Della Pizza. Superb lasagna (yes, lasagna in Munich!!!) and pizza easily superior to Two Amy's in a room with wood beams, brick, stone and an oven that dominates the entrance. Negative: you MUST reserve. It is known. In fact for perspective let me say that Munich knows l'angolo della pizza better than D. C. knows Two Amys. But go!

Cafe Glockinspiel has among the best breakfast in all of Germany and it is on the sixth floor of a building directly across from City Hall on the Marien Platz. Fantastic location! http://www.cafe-glockenspiel.de/ You'll see it's location in this link to a webcam of the Marien Platz: http://www.ludwigbec...ch-marienplatz/ Second building on the left. Two blocks away is the Viktualienmarkt which is one of the great markets in the world. The corner leading from the Marien Platz to the Viktualienmarkt leads to a row of eleven butcher shops lined up one after another. Incredible! At the far end of the Viktualienmarkt is a pickle stand with nine or ten barrels of pickles in front of it. I have been to Guss' in New York and Schwartz in Montreal: I believe the sour barrel pickles from this are the best I have ever had anywhere.

Garmisch/Partenkirchen receive little press in America yet they are among the most beautiful of any cities in any Alps. Partenkirchen is only 60 minutes from Munich and an easy drive. Reindl's is its best restaurant and arguably best hotel, too: http://www.reindls.de/ This is a great area to cruise through including the nearby Olypic Sky Jump which, yes, you can walk up-it's the biggest in the world and open to the public. Four of them lined up side by side dating to the '20's and all spectacular. %, 10 km up the road is some of the finest carved wood in the world.

Last, we take the subway to and from the airport. It is THAT easy. Subway goes everywhere. If the weather is good taken an open top bus tour from across from the Hofbahnhof for a couple of hours for orientation. Then get lost. Dachau is what you have heard/feared. It will be exactly that. Remarkably, Dachau, the town is a walled city with cobblestone streets and wood beam buildings which dates back to the medevil ages and has a fantastic amount of charm. We accidentally found it while looking for the "camp" in April. It's about 5 km away and absolutely charming. Given the distant camp it is the antithesis of what you would expect.

Terme Erding is the largest indoor water park in Germany located about 25 km outside of the city. One part of it is nude. Yes, nude. http://www.therme-er...88/english.html Two million people a year (!) go there. Some dressed....


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the Haufbahnhof

the Hofbahnhof


One part of it is nude. Yes, nude.

The Germans seem to be mad about taking all their clothes off in public. The large public park in Munich called the English Garden (Englischer Garten) has a large open field (die Schönfeldwiese) where nude sunbathing is encouraged. I stumbled into it unwittingly many years ago and only gradually realized that all the other people there were naked. In Berlin once I was visiting the gardens of the Charlottenburg Palace when I saw a young couple sunbathing nude under a sign that read "No Nude Sunbathing" (only in German).

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Holy crap I need to update this thread. We had SUCHA GREAT TRIP in 2012. Luzerne to Lake Como to Verona to Schladming (Austria) to Munchen. Really excellent food -- I promise to post some thoughts and pictures soon. Verona was amazing and Schladming was unexpectedly good. And the last night of the trip, one night in Munchen was the first day of Oktoberfest! What a hoot!

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Just wanted to note for future visitors to this thread- if you will be close to the Julian Alps in Slovenia near the Austrian and Italian borders there is a lot of great food to be found nearby in Kobarid and further south in Istria. See my posts in those threads for details. It's not too far to detour to a not very visited part of the world.

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Die Tischlerei im Schladming, primarily a ski town in central Austria near the Dachstein. Lots of great hiking in the summer though. Kind of blurry, but the BEST tartare of a revelatory trip of tartare. Seriously. If ever in central Austria, stop whatever you are doing and go here to spend an hour or four.


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