Alpe-Adria-Region: Genuss mit Weitblick

The heart of Borgo Teresiano is the Grand Canal with the church of Sant'Antonio Nuovo.

©Shutterstock

The heart of Borgo Teresiano is the Grand Canal with the church of Sant'Antonio Nuovo.

©Shutterstock

For many it is the most beautiful mass of water, surrounded by land. We are talking about Lake Wörth (renowned and known as Wörthersee by the German speaking world) in Carinthia, Austria and the first destination of our Gourmet Weekend. Southern flair with idyllic courtyards, historically significant sights, beautiful natural landscapes and relaxed locals. We are talking about Klagenfurt, the city on the lake. Which gives this city its incomparable charm. Thursday and Saturday are the days of the Benedictine market, and this is the best culinary introduction to the Alpe-Adria lifestyle. Farmers from Carinthia, Friuli and Slovenia offer their local produce here.

You can try, taste, smell the best from all three countries. If you are peckish, visit the Kochwerkstatt, or cooking workshop. Here Christian Cabalier is in charge, once the youngest three-star chef in Switzerland, he trained in many top restaurants worldwide. Now he cooks at his market stall, which has become a gem of a place for foodies. Thus fortified, a stroll across the Old Square to the New Square with the famous Lindwurm Fountain and then to the Museum of Modern Art is definitely worthwhile. Here you encounter famous names and paintiings by Maria Lassnig to Kiki Kogelnik and Erwin Wurm. A local square, a grammar school, a café and a famous literary prize all bear her name - Ingeborg Bachmann - Carinthia's famous writer can be discovered on a literature walk.

Dolce Vita is not only a southern motto of life, but also the name of a fine Mediterranean restaurant. With a view of the famous Lindwurm Fountain you can spend the night in the "Hotel Palais Porcia". The southern flâneur is drawn to the lake. There are more than enough special bathing spots here. For example "Werzer's Badehaus" or the lido and the "See Restaurant Saag" Here you will be spoiled with regional creations by top chef Hubert Wallner. In the fine "Schlosshotel Velden" Thomas Gruber cooks in the "Restaurant Schlossstern" with Slow-Food products from the Alpe-Adria region. Another heavenly place is "Werzer's Badehaus" from 1895, here you can enjoy yourself with a lake view and a top restaurant, for example in the Sunset Suite.

From Lake Wörthersee to the green capital of Slovenia

From Lake Wörthersee to the green capital of Slovenia Ljubljana, is less than a hundred kilometres away from Klagenfurt and Lake Wörthersee. On the way, it's worth making a detour to Kranj, where one can visit a 30m deep canyon in the town centre and get a taste of its gastronomic trifecta - Krainer sausage, Kranjski štruklji and beer. The journey continues past the beautiful UNESCO town of Škofja Loka to Ljubljana. The cultural link between Ljubljana and Kranj are the poet France Prešeren and the architect Jože Plečnik, who shaped the image of the city on the river with the picturesque bridges and the market square. It is a mixture of different architectural styles and eras, perfectly combined with the genius ideas of the visionary Jože Plečnik, the Slovenian architectural icon. Mediterranean lightness, the charm of old Austria and a lively student life are the parameters for this special place that is far too little known.

A cool panoramic view can be enjoyed from Nebotičnik, the "skyscraper of Ljubljana", built in 1933 and today very trendy with a café and the rooftop bar "Skyscraper". Ljubljana also offers a vibrant music and cultural scene: from the Museum of Contemporary Art to the many festivals. 14,000 cultural events a year make this town a bubbling cultural capital.

The Dragon Bridge, the Market Square, the National Gallery, the Plečnik House - with the young free-walking tour guides where you can experience the city as the locals do. This includes the Ljubljanska glavna tržnica, the market hall, where you can find regional specialties to taste and people from the city to chat with. The history of the city and the country has left traces of taste everywhere, the sea, the lakes and the nearby Alps are reflected in the dishes. The secret of Slovenian cuisine is the recourse to old traditions, coupled with creativity and fresh ingredients. Enjoy a sweet break at Café Union. Fine dining and enjoying the city view at "Strelec" in the Ljubljana Castle turret, or tasting the highest level of cuisine at "JB" with Grand Master Janez Bratovž. 

The culinary offer is as diverse as the city itself. And you should definitely stay here to experience the nightlife as well, maybe in the "Žmauc", the favourite bar of the local youngsters. Or the Opera Bar. You can treat yourself to a little luxury at the "Hotel Antiq Palace", one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, where top Slovenian chefs cook up a dinner for two as an exceptional service. 

Trieste: The Imperial Free City of Trieste

"Similar to Vienna, only a bit smaller," Emperor Franz Joseph is said to have told his city planners. In Trieste and the Karst we find the bygone era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at its best, combined with the modern spirit of cosmopolitanism. A melting pot,  especially in the cooking pots - Kaiserfleisch, i.e. cured and smoked pork with horseradish, plum dumplings, Arabic desserts, delicious wine and snacks in Karst. And in addition everything that the sea has to offer. One day in the city of cafés, poets and the Bora winds is of course not enough to get to know the diversity, but you can return!

"There is no place in Europe where there are more borders," says Veit Heinichen, a writer and Trieste resident by choice with a penchant for culinary arts. The sea, which almost plays into the city, opens the view and the thoughts. Culture is omnipresent, you meet it in the form of bronze statues of James Joyce, Umberto Saba or Italo Svevo, in person at the "Caffè San Marco" with Claudio Magris or at the "Gran Malabar" with Veit Heinichen. You can see art in the Museo Revoltella or experience history in the Risiera di San Sabba.

Trieste' cosmopolitanism may be a bit brittle, but once you've conquered it, you can't let it go. The wonderful buffets and restaurants have a share in this as well. After a morning coffee with a view in the "Caffè degli Specchi", the buffets, of "Da Pepi" or of "L'Approdo" for example, are tempting, before you enjoy the finest Adriatic cuisine in the evening in the "Nerodiseppia" or at Ami Scabar. Another insider tip is the "Da Angelina", and if you get hold of one of the few tables, you'll feel like you're in fish heaven. You can stay at the "Grand Hotel Duchi D'Aosta" on the Piazza Unità or on the Costiera at the "Hotel Riviera" with the most beautiful sea view. You can also enjoy the evening at "Harry's Piccolo Restaurant Bistrò". The next day the pleasure tour continues, perhaps in the oldest coffee house in town, the "Tommaseo"?

On the way back to Carinthia, it is always worth making a detour to  Karst to drink a glass of Terrano or Vitovska in an Osmica, which revives the old Buschenschank (wine tavern) tradition of the Empress Maria Theresia. And they say Trieste without Karst is not Trieste. On the route through the Canal Valley, Udine, Cormòns, Venzone, San Daniele and the most beautiful wine-growing areas tempt you to take a pleasurable detour. All the tempting names and what is hidden behind them are reason enough to come back soon and breathe and taste the Alpe-Adria lifestyle in Carinthia, Slovenia and Northern Italy.

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