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Foodie Cinema | Trentino-Alto Adige: Connected to happiness

(by Andrea Gropplero - Cinecittario: Archivio Luce)

Trentino-Alto Adige is the Northernmost region of Italy. Her mountains, lakes and food make this one of the country’s extraordinary settings, one that is in many ways unique. Many of the films shot here contain the word happiness in the title, there must be a reason.

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The locations

Lake Lamar
Region: Trentino Type: Lago Territory: montagna
Pale di San Martino
Region: Trentino Type: Montagne Territory: montagna
Pergine Valsugana
Region: Trentino Type: Borgo storico Territory: montagna
Riva del Garda
Region: Trentino Type: Paese Territory: lago
Region: Trentino Type: Città Territory: città, montagna

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The complexity of happiness

The complexity of happiness (2015) by Gianni Zanasi, is set for the most part in TrentoValsugana and Riva del Garda, in Trentino. The film tells the story of Enrico (Valerio Mastandrea) who works to convince businessmen, most of whom are vain and irresponsible, to give up their activities. His is almost a political act, one which comes into conflict with the reality of two young orphans who are intent on making their family business function “on a human scale”. The two young people, sensitive to the natural beauty of their surroundings and the human element of the company they run, banish their uncle and the management figures unaware of the issues at the company. It is a sophisticated comedy, simply told, that evokes Truffaut at times. Not so surprising given that Zanasi loves Truffaut and has said he shares a favourite dish with the French director: a sandwich made with toasted bread eaten before going into a cinema. Like Zanasi, the two young entrepreneurs dislike banquets and Lucullan corporate buffets, needing little to stay connected to happiness: an apple pie. That dessert of regional apples, made with love as if by a grandma, is known by the occupants of Trentino as “our pie”.

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Christian Marazziti’s Sconnessi (2018) tells the story of a blended, bourgeois family that is completely disconnected from happiness. Although the characters are holidaying in the mountains of Trentino, they never leave the house where they wallow in the total banality of their conversations. When the father sabotages the router, the family is suddenly disconnected from the internet and so discover that the disconnection is not simply web related but more importantly about the depth of their relationships.
Worth noting are the canederli that the family lazily eats during the dinner when they discover they have been disconnected. Canederli are potato dumplings about 4/6cm in diameter and typical of Middle Europe with versions found in the cuisines of Trentino, Alto Adige, Tyrol, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. In these countries it takes the name of knodel and is made with a variety of ingredients, the most common being old bread or polenta. They can be vegetarian or contain a stuffing of meat, speck (cured ham) or cheese, they can be eaten with soupy brodo or alone. Canederli is a very ancient dish, first depicted in frescoes from the 1100s and typical of cucina povera, the peasant cooking that historically used leftovers and discarded pieces in its dishes.

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La sedia della felicità (2013) - © Emilia Mazzacurati

La sedia della felicità

La sedia della felicità (2013) was the last film directed by Carlo Mazzacurati who died prematurely in January 2014 before its theatrical release. It is a sophisticated comedy with the unique, idiosyncratic touch typical of this great director whose work is too little celebrated. Based on the Russian novel The Twelve Chairs by llif and Petrov, and inspired in part by Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox and Hayao Miyazaki’s animated heroines (Isabella Ragonese’s character Bruna), La sedia della felicità recounts the hunt for a treasure hidden in a chair of which there are 12 copies. Dino (Valerio Mastandrea) and Bruna find the chair and its precious content in the archaic splendour of Val di Fassa, in the Dolomites of Trentino although the most important result that comes out of this enchanted place is the connection they make to love and happiness.

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Correspondence (2016) - © Paco Cinematografica


Giuseppe Tornatore’s Correspondence (2016) recounts the connection between two lovers after one of them dies. Tornatore’s skilful and experienced direction tells the story of the love between a famous astrophysicist, Professor Edward Phoerum (Jeremy Irons), and a student of astrophysics Amy Ryan (Olga Kurylenko), who moonlights as a stuntwoman to pay for her studies. Their 2.0 love story is mostly text and video messages, video calls and meetings at Borgo Ventoso, an imaginary village on the shores of a lake (shot on the island of San Giulio in Lake Orta and the Fishermans island in Lake Maggiore). The astrophysicist plots a complex system to continue his relationship with Amy after his death, like stars which, despite dying millions of years ago, still project a light that we can see. She continues to receive video messages, letters and texts from her defunct lover who even manages to organize a range of meetings and dinners in the restaurant of Borgo Ventoso where she is served the menu from their last meal together. The film was partly shot in Trentino and Alto Adige, more precisely in TrentoBolzano and Bressanone.

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Apple pie

Brief history of the cuisine of Trentino, Alto Adige and Tyrol

The unique and unusual geographical conformation of Trentino and Alto Adige has naturally influenced its agriculture, animal farming and food production. A common characteristic is the excellent quality of the products produced here which is also unusual from an administrative perspective given that the special autonomy (unique in Italy) is administered more by the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano than by the region. The question of language is both strongly rooted and a source of conflict over centuries. A peaceful compromise was eventually reached in the 1900s with the residents who use the three most spoken languages: Italian, German and Ladino (a minority language recognised by the Constitution).
The overall population of little more than one million inhabitants is spread over the many intensely farmed valleys of the territory. Over half the territory is, from an agricultural perspective, unproductive due to the presence of mountains, glaciers, lakes and large forests. Then there is the difficulty of a long, hard winter. Yet this region produces over half of all the apples in Italy and grapes for wines of excellent quality such as Pinot biancoTraminerTeroldego RotalianoLagreinMuller-Thurgau and the Trento spumante DOC. Animal farming (especially cows) given the wide availability of alpine pasture has produced great cheeses such as TrentingranaVezzenaFontal and many others. In terms of cured meats, speck (cured ham) is the pinnacle of excellence while a very regional product is the salami known as lucanica trentina.

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Canederli in brodo

This recipe is provided by Visit Trentino.

First, make a good stock. For 3 litres of vegetable stock, you will need 1 courgette, 1 potato, 1 garlic clove, 2 carrots, 2 onions, 2 tomatoes and 2 celery stalks. Optional additions are bay leaves and peppercorns.
Wash and prepare the vegetables: peel and halve the carrots and onions, cut the celery stalks into three parts and the courgette into large pieces. Peel and quarter the potato. Peel the tomatoes.
Then place the vegetables in three litres of cold water, add the bay leaves, peppercorns and an unpeeled garlic clove.
Bring to the boil, then add salt and parsley. Cover and leave to simmer for 90 minutes. Test for salt before straining.



  • 400 g old bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lucanica (sausage), diced
  • 1 small slice of speck, diced
  • 2 glasses of milk serum
  • 1 bunch of parsley (or chives), chopped
  • 250 g breadcrumbs
  • 100 g Trentingrana
  • handful of flour
  • salt and pepper

Dice the bread and soak in the milk. Combine it with your hands then add the eggs, sausage and speck, cheese, salt and pepper and last the parsley.
Knead it well and leave to rest in a covered bowl for half an hour before adding the breadcrumbs.
With wet hands, shape the dough into dumplings of equal size. Your canederli are ready for cooking in the vegetable stock that you prepared earlier!
Cook in boiling stock for approx. 15 minutes.
Serve in bowls with broth and shavings of Trentingrana.
Check that the canederli have the right consistency by testing one into the broth: if it breaks, add some flour to the dough.

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Sconnessi (2018) - © Lorenzo Fizza Verdinelli

Recipe to make your own trailer on food and film in Trentino-Alto Adige

This game is for anyone who wants to make a homemade trailer about Connected to happiness. We’re providing the time codes for the film clips. Any edit program will work for this. Input the following data into the timeline and you’ll have your trailer in minutes.

  • Download the film titles for The Complexity of Happiness
  • attach to sequence from 01h.07.11 to 01h.09.40
  • attach to sequence from 01h.17.20 to 01h.20.00
  • download the film titles for Correspondence
  • attach to sequence from 49.00 to 51.41
  • attach to sequence from 01.40.45 to 01.41.18
  • attach to sequence from 01h.44.03 to 01h.44.26
  • download the film titles for Sconnessi
  • attach to sequence from 14.25 to 17.22
  • attach to sequence from 43.45 to 46.25
  • add the end title card “End”
  • enjoy it in company and, if you haven’t yet seen the films, watch them.

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