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Sustainable and traditional in South Tyrol

La Dolce Vita of South Tyrol – sustainable and conscious of tradition

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South Tyrol is no longer an insider tip. Word has gotten around about how good life is in Italy's northernmost province. The proximity to Germany plays a big role, because the journey is easy, both by car and by train, for example from Munich - Innsbruck - Bolzano, without having to change.

The three official national languages ​​are Italian, German and Ladin, with the majority being German-speaking. Ladin is the oldest language and is still spoken in the two Dolomite valleys of Badia and Val Gardena. Thanks to the Italian, which you can also hear everywhere, the Mediterranean feeling doesn't take long to arrive: warm temperatures, surrounded by mountain peaks and lush cultivated areas - from various fruit trees to apple fields and vineyards - clear lakes, pretty palm trees and beautiful old buildings the three largest cities Meran, Bozen and Brixen.

South Tyrolean landscape

Your own definition of the “sweet life”

The sweet life, La Dolce Vita, has its own definition in South Tyrol. Sustainability is paired with an awareness of tradition that can be felt in every corner. Entrepreneurs make it their mission to preserve old fruit varieties together Accommodate guests in a sustainable way while ensuring physical exercise and mental well-being. We try to keep the paths short and to think much more together than each person alone.

Particular attention is paid to quality. On the one hand when it comes to equipment and the choice of materials, but especially in the area of ​​gastronomy, newcomers are joining the established ones and making sure to live and do business in harmony with nature. Creativity is not compromised, but the various seasonal harvests and regional specialties give you a lot of scope to try things out and let nature guide you.


Permaculture in South Tyrol


Go to the Eisathhof in Deutschnofen Includes 4,5 hectares of forest and meadows, a farm that has belonged to the Pfeifer family for generations. In 2015, Michael Pfeifer, then only 17 years old and motivated, decided to do something about the extinction of species and grew his first vegetables. Back then there were 50 varieties, today there are 650 different types of vegetables, grains and herbs. From 120 varieties of tomatoes, the bulbous nasturtium, heirloom beans to perilla or shiso, an Asian herb that can be used in salads, a variety of agricultural products grow throughout the year.

regional vegetable cultivation in South Tyrol
The young farmer Michael Pfeifer
new tomato varieties
Permaculture bed by Michael Pfeifer

Michael Pfeifer describes himself as a young farmer full of passion; – Passion for regional supply, a sustainable lifestyle and the cultivation method of his products. He consciously chose permaculture, in which cultural ideas play an important role. Plants of different heights and heights are planted row after row on a slope to ensure a favorable microclimate. The soil warms up well on slopes, so the plants grow better and ensure high yields. Mulching and grass added to the plants make the soil very fertile, the humus content correlates with the soil content and stores carbon in the soil.

A direct delivery to the region

Michael Pfeifer is particularly proud of the fact that he has managed to grow seed-resistant sugar beets, which would otherwise have to be supported with new hybrids every year. From what he has heard, there are only three other seed-proof sugar beets in Europe. 75% of the harvest goes to the catering industry, 15% to solidarity farming: Michael Pfeifer supplies his harvest to more than eight restaurants in the immediate area every week.

The majority of the work falls on his shoulders; his father supports him, as do guest workers who help out for a few weeks and in return are allowed to live at the Eisathhof. That's exactly what Michael Pfeifer did a few years ago: he tackled a permaculture garden in New Zealand and learned a lot there. The stories of those who work for him on a temporary basis allow Michael Pfeifer to travel; at first he only travels a little and then in Europe by train.

If Michael Pfeifer has his way, the farm should stop growing and allow more and more cultivation. As was the case recently, when hail devastated several beds in midsummer due to capricious weather, in the worst case scenario the entire permaculture garden would be affected. He advocates that there should be more ambitious people in the region with their own cultivation, which would also be an advantage for the diversity of the region.

“Taste Nature” in the Johannesstube

One of the restaurants that enjoys the Eisathhof harvest is the Johannesstube in Nova Levante. Since 2014, MICHELIN star chef Theodor Falser has been cooking a special menu here, where tradition and innovation go hand in hand. Guests can choose between five, seven, nine or twelve courses, which bring the enjoyment of nature closer and allow them to taste the true taste of the local harvest. Because every product that is not handmade comes from South Tyrol. Every ingredient is hand-picked, giving each dish its own unique character.

At the Michelin star chef in the Johannesstube
Several course menu
Salad from the permaculture garden
Delicacies from the Michelin chef

How a hotel changes its kitchen – the Steineggerhof

A bio hotel that has chosen a different and environmentally friendly path is the one Steineggerhof in Eggental. The family-run hotel has been around for over 50 years; What once opened as a small guesthouse is, after various renovations and modernizations, now an environmentally conscious hotel with 65 beds. Here, guests enjoy guided e-bike tours, yoga and fresh mountain air at 900 meters above sea level.

During a family vacation abroad, where they saw plastic in the sea and places littered with garbage in general, the host family Resch decided to no longer be part of the problem and reconsidered their offering, especially in the area of ​​gastronomy. It quickly became clear that the Reschs wanted to move away from small plastic packaging and towards regional, seasonal and predominantly vegan cuisine that does not contain any additives. The garden, which is located directly at the hotel, supplies vegetables, fruit and even flowers to decorate the tables in the dining room.

An organic hotel in South Tyrol
View from the window in the organic hotel in Südtriol
Visit to the vegan kitchen

The kitchen can be described as the heart of the meal: “Vegan dishes always have to be their own dish,” says host Kurt Resch and chef at the Steineggerhof. What he means by this is that vegan guests don't just have to be satisfied with the side dishes, but are served wholesome dishes. At the beginning of the kitchen's transition to predominantly plant-based dishes, with guests still being able to have meat dishes if they requested, there were some skeptical voices, but these were appeased after the first try. In the best case scenario, guests will not even notice that the dishes are prepared without milk, cheese or fish/meat, because the high-quality organic products used speak for themselves. We also try not to throw anything away - for example, Kurt Resch and his team make their own seasoning powder from onion peels.

Hotel's own vegetable garden
Reuse leftover food

Kurt Resch and his daughter Lisa already have two Cookbooks published, each presenting over 100 vegan recipes: from simple sauces and basics to recipes that let you recycle food scraps, such as a bread recipe made from 40% stale bread. The two also provide insight into their understanding of sustainability. They measure their carbon footprint every two years and actively engage with the results, always striving to improve the values. By switching to vegan dishes, they were able to reduce their CO2 emissions by 2%. They also want to reduce the number of beds because they are convinced that less is more. The hotel is also oriented towards the common good.

vegan cookbook from South Triol
Vertical garden in South Tyrol.

Vitalpina Hotels – an association of many

The Vitalpina Hotels represent an association of over 30 South Tyrolean hotels that was founded in 2006. Despite different price ranges and between three to five stars, all hotels follow a common philosophy: family-run hotels guarantee a high standard for a holiday close to nature thanks to tested quality criteria. A special focus is on regionality, from enjoyment to natural offerings and exercise in the mountains. Behind the Vitalpina Hotels are hosts who strive to take a further step towards sustainability every day by using their own products from the farm and garden, buying locally and enabling car-free holidays.

South Tyrol in the evening mood

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© Photos: Cécile Meier, Josua Meier

Cécile is a freelance author and sustainability strategist. She enjoys traveling to the fullest: getting to know different cultures, listening to other languages ​​and discovering new things either by the sea or in a (big) city always fascinates her. The stories and intentions of the Good Travel hosts are particularly important to her.