photo of Merano in the Italian Alps by Brittany Wallace
Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky,
Mont Blanc appears—still, snowy, and serene—
Its subject mountains their unearthly forms
Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between
Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,
Blue as the overhanging heaven, that spread
And wind among the accumulated steeps;
Can’t get away to the Alps this summer to eat, drink, and see Mont Blanc? Travel virtually with us!
Formed when the Africa plate slammed into the Eurasian Plate over 700 million years ago, today the Alps span 750 miles in length and 160 miles in width (more or less) crossings the borders of eight countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland along a ridge with high passes and with eight peaks over 14,000′ tall.
The red zone is 1000-2000 meters while the white part is 2000-4000 meters; Mt Whitney, the tallest point in the continental United States is 14,494′ — above 4,000′
When the two plates collided, for 300-400 million years, layers of rock of European, African and oceanic origins formed the mountains; for example, the Dolomites or Pale Mountains in northeastern Italy, are made of a type of limestone while to the south and west granite makes up the Mount Blanc Massif which straddles France and Italy. Glaciers scraped away layers leaving behind piles of stone or glacial moraines which created subalpine lakes and valleys as well as influencing the large verdant plain where the Po River flows from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea.
Home to humans for over 10,000 years, these mountains shape 14 million people and unite them with strong traditions in farming, forestry, woodworking, baking, sausage and cheesemaking; the region’s steep terrain secluded and protected them so that their culture and cuisine has barely changed since the medieval period and is similar no matter which side of the mountain you are on.
During the medieval period, the Romans built roads and developed monasteries, which in the 19th century, sheltered travelers, and became tourist destinations.
Which brings us to the subject of this blog post: the wine made in the northern-most monastery and one of the oldest in Italy– Abbazia di Novella— along with the cuisine from Alpine Italy to pair with it. Abbazia di Novella in Varna, Italy has been in operation for nearly 900 years; today the abbey houses 27 monks. We tasted two wines, Alto Adige Valle Isarco Kerner – 2014 and 2015 SRP $19.00 and Pinot Grigio 2014.