(Werbung/advertisement as I was invited by Lana Tourism)
You wake up, the sun is gently falling through the curtains and dust is idly dancing in her beams. She warms your face and when you open your sleepy eyes you have to blink a few times to get used to the bright light. And it is warm. That’s when you know that Winter is truly gone and Spring is taking over.
I wouldn’t say I’m a Spring person per se. Autumn with its orange leaves and Winter with its crisp mornings will forever be my two favourite seasons. But I appreciate Spring for bringing a feeling of new beginnings and for turning a grey world into one filled with bright colours.
And what better place to welcome Spring than Lana in South Tyrol: where alpine landscapes and mediterranean vibes invite you to spend precious moments hiking mountains, eating all the good food and finally sitting outside again with an aperitivo in your hand.
Now let’s shine a light on some of the things that made this years Spring time in Lana special:
At no other time of the year do you get a display of so many different colours than during Spring time. The lush green of grass and leaf to which the morning dew clings, wisteria trees with their purple flowers, the pink blossom of dogwood trees… they are a welcome sight after those long, dark Winter days and make you realise just how much you missed seeing nature in bloom.
Everything is growing again, trees start bearing fruit, fern fronds are uncoiling and our tiny insect friends wake up from their slumber, filling the air with a soft humming and buzzing.
The Apple Trees
Speaking of humming. Nowhere else is the activity of bees as present as in the apple orchards of Lana. You will hear them before you see them flitting from one apple blossom to the next, collecting pollen as they go. Lana is one of the biggest apple growing regions in South Tyrol. Every year 55,000 tons of apples are harvested in Lana alone, starting in August when the Gala apples are ripe and ending in November when the Pink Lady apples are ready to be picked from the trees.
But before they become juicy apples they start out as small white flowers with soft pink markings all along the edges of every leaf. We spent one morning riding our bikes through rows and rows of apple trees, taking in the scent and stopping every so often to take a closer look at the bees. Definitely one of the more peaceful ways to spend your morning.
We’ve been lucky enough to stay at pretty incredible hotels every time we’re in Lana. This time around was no exception. Right in the center of Lana is the „Stadele“. They started out as a restaurant but have recently added eight rooms to the building and each room is dedicated to a different spice (our room was the „stay salty“ room for example).
The atmosphere in the hotel is super friendly and welcoming and everyone is so helpful. We loved having breakfast outside right next to the restaurants herbal garden, and relaxing on our balcony in the afternoon sun. But what truly stands out is the restaurant. I feel like I say that about every hotel we get to call home when in Lana, but the chefs over there sure know how to make your taste buds happy. I could have hugged the kitchen staff of the „Stadele“ every night because they always came up with the most scrumptious vegan dishes for us. 10/10 would recommend.
And because for me personally, Lana and good food go hand in hand let’s keep on talking about the mouth-watering delicacies the restaurants put on our plates this Spring. The „Hidalgo“ in Burgstall surprised us with a very well thought-out vegan menu where the regions edible wild herbs took center stage. From fried sage leaves to marinated campion we got to eat our way through a meadow of plants, some of them we didn’t even know existed. It’s fascinating to think how much goodness we can find in nature aside from the obvious and familiar.
If you asked anyone from Germany which food they think is the most popular during Spring time you’d probably get the same answer from most of them: asparagus! An abundance of stalls pop up on the roadside every year, restaurants seem to change their menus to nothing but asparagus dishes and people go crazy for it.
I can’t say I experienced the same rage in Lana, but asparagus was in season too and Philipp and me, being the Germans that we are, had to have at least one asparagus dish. One evening we found ourselves at „OW Lana“, a restaurant in the very heart of Lana. As it was still warm outside we opted to sit outside on the piazza, and in no time were provided with an aperitivo which we started sipping while browsing the menu. Asparagus soup for starters and tagliatelle with green asparagus as a main dish? Yes, please.
I love how we’re always discovering new places to eat when we’re in Lana and I don’t think I’ve ever had a meal that didn’t leave me swooning.
As I said, I didn’t get the feeling asparagus was as holy in Lana as it is in Germany, but there sure is a passion for growing and harvesting it. We met up with Norbert, a farmer and wine grower from Lana who took us to his asparagus fields where we learnt a lot about the Spring vegetable.
It was an early morning, the sprinklers of the apple orchards made it look like it was raining (which of course it didn’t – it hardly ever rains in Lana), and the air was still a wee bit crisp. Norbert greeted us right by his asparagus field, tucked in between the apple trees, where he and his farmhands were already busy cutting asparagus, using the cooler morning air to get the job done. He taught us all about the cultivation and harvest of asparagus. For example, did you know that white and green asparagus are the same kind? When you grow asparagus underground, sunlight can’t reach the stalks. No sunlight means no chlorophyll. But if you leave them to grow above the ground their white colour turns green as the sun provides them with chlorophyll. Tada! Learnt something new again.
Norbert also introduced us to his three Ouessant sheep, one of the smallest breeds in the world, and picked some fresh almonds for us, straight from the tree. He also runs holiday apartments – just sayin’.
Another day we visited „Reichneggerhof“: sitting right above Lana amidst orchards and vineyards, a more idyllic location is hard to come by. For many generations, the late-medieval wine farm from the 15th century and the attached land have been cultivated with much care by the Höllrigl family.
We were greeted by Josef Höllrigl who introduced us to his pride and joy: the distillery. We started out by sampling some distillates and liqueurs and I have to tell you that I usually don’t drink anything that comes in a tiny glass. But the liquids Josef poured us weren’t too bad: maybe it was hearing the stories behind certain distillates from the maker himself or maybe it was the fact that almost everything they use for their distillates and liqueurs is cultivated by the family as well.
That is something I really appreciated: nothing goes to waste here. They grow apples, pears, plums, blueberries… which make for aromatic ingredients and if there’s leftover fruit they use it to make chutneys or jams which they also sell in their little shop. One jar of apricot jam is still sitting in my pantry and I can’t wait to open it and re-live some Lana Spring memories.