The region of Trentino-Alto Adige is geographically and culturally divided into two distinct parts. Alto Adige in the north is a mountainous region, with heavy culinary influences and a shared dialect with neighbouring Austria (where it is known as Suedtirol), while Trentino has gentler terrain and a more recognisably Italian cuisine.
Visitors to the north can enjoy hearty food centred heavily around pork, with Speck a speciality. This is similar to the famous prosciutto crudo, although it is made from cheaper cuts of pork which are dry cured and smoked to produce a delicious anti-pasti meat that is sometimes known as Tyrolean bacon.
You can expect dumplings and mushrooms, especially in the colder months, and a huge variety of sausages that preserve the almighty pig in an ingenious number of ways. Forest fruits are also popular, along with game of all types - the local deer population provides outstanding venison in season. Trentino's food, while still recognisably northern, shares more generally Italian features such as the use of olive oil in preference to butter.
As a province with over 300 lakes, Trentino enjoys superb freshwater fish which are grilled, baked, or served as risotto. Polenta is popular, although as if to reject the Italian stereotype, the proud northern folk of the region mostly avoid pasta dishes. Wine lovers should consider visiting the region in September and October when the year's new batch of wine becomes available. Villages around the region hold festivals to celebrate the event, with plenty of chance to sample the product, including young unfinished wine that packs a real punch, all in the open air to the accompaniment of live music and - of course - plenty of delicious food.