Trondheim is the third largest city in Norway. It’s not the capital, that’s Oslo. Nor is it the picturesque gateway to the fjords, Bergen. Trondheim is the one that comes after those two. Yet, for me, it was the first Scandinavian city I heard about. As a kid I learned that somewhere up there in northern Europe there was a city named Trondheim. Many years later I would have fallen in love with Norway and then even moved to Sweden, but back then my only knowledge of Scandinavia was that Trondheim was a city somewhere up there.
The reason why I had heard about Trondheim as a little girl was because it was for a trip to Trondheim that my dad applied for his first passport. It was 1981 and Norway seemed so far away. Our Argentine cousin had moved to Trondheim for a year, and as far as Trondheim seemed, it was still much closer than Argentina. If there was one chance my dad had to go visit her, that was it. So he applied for his passport, got it, and patiently waited for the summer holidays to come. When he started looking into flight tickets, a friend even provided him with a little booklet with easy sentences in English for basic communication.
Then something unexpected happened in Argentina, a relative had fallen seriously ill, and our cousin needed to rush back home. This happened before my dad even bought his ticket. With her gone, my dad din’t feel like embarking on such a trip and the idea of visiting Trondheim slowly blurred back, with the city on the Norwegian coast seeming now farther than it had ever been.
When I moved to Oslo for my studies my intention was to try and see as much of Scandinavia as my budget allowed. Trondheim had not been a priority, as my hope was to get to see Bergen and Copenhagen first and I didn’t know if I’d have enough money to get to do more. But then, on my second week in Oslo, I met the person who taught me how to maximize travel budgeting. We went to Copenhagen together for very little money, and when we were planning our trip to Bergen we managed to include Trondheim in our itinerary. Every time I succeed in making travel plans I owe it to what she has taught me then.
We reached Trondheim after spending two nights and one full day aboard a Hurtigruten ship (the one I spotted in Ålesund when I travelled back years later). We had embarked in Bergen, had cruised through the Geirangerfjord all the way to Geiranger, and on past Ålesund and Molde, all the way to Trondheim. That trip to the west coast with my girlfriends had probably been the highlight of my semester abroad. I sent my dad a postcard from Trondheim.
When I met my boyfriend I made it pretty clear to him that I love Scandinavia and it’s my favourite area to travel to. Eight months later, we were on our way to our third trip to Scandinavia together, to the Lofoten islands. After spending four days in the most idyllic environment (this was also when we decided we’d move to Scandinavia together, and a year later we did), our trip back had a sudden turn of events. We were supposed to take the train from Bodø to Oslo with a change in Trondheim, but our second train was cancelled so we found ourselves stuck in Trondheim for the night.
This unplanned stop allowed me to show my boyfriend around this city that I had visited before. It was late May, so even though we were there only for a night (we would have taken the next train to Oslo the following morning), it was light enough to explore the city at midnight. We had dinner at Peppes Pizza, Norway’s most famous pizza chain, and then took a walk all the way to the Cathedral and back to our hotel room (where the Norwegian Railways accommodated us at no extra cost for cancelling our overnight train to Oslo). So I happened to get to Trondheim a second time. We ended up having a blast, my boyfriend loved Trondheim, and this perfectly made up for the fact that we had to book a new flight from Oslo because this unplanned stop made us miss the original one.
When my parents visit me in Sweden I like to take them on road trips. Last year we set off for Åland, so this year I had to think of a different destination. I decided that this year was going to be the year when my dad would finally make it to Trondheim. So we packed our car and drove north, this time. We drove through ominous storms but were lucky to bump into two reindeer who grazed at the side of the road and allowed us to take some photos. The weather improved greatly and allowed me to play the tour guide again, this time to show my dad around.
Trondheim proved somehow below his expectations. It’s not like he didn’t like it, but I guess that a 36-year long wait played its role. And I can’t blame him. As for me, I found it as beautiful as the first time, and as pleasant as the second. This time, in fact, we rented an Airbnb in a delightful area, Nedre Elvehavn, that I loved to explore. This is where we discovered one of the best pizza places in Scandinavia that I have tried so far, Una Pizzeria e Bar. I admit we were lured in by their lunch offer: any pizza from the menu at a reduced fixed price. We went in, were welcomed and helped by the friendliest waiter, and heard a familiar language coming from the kitchen. Between the service and the atmosphere, it really felt like being in Italy. I chose an Emiliana, with gorgonzola cheese, pear slices, Parma ham and shaved Parmigiano. It was beyond delicious, and the fact that it was enriched with Parma ham and Parmigiano, two ingredients that are normally not included on a gorgonzola e pere back home, made it really worth its price. Despite being a lunchtime discount, this pizza was still pricier than the average Italian pizza. After all, it complied with Norwegian standard prices. In all honesty, with so many special ingredients I would have gladly paid as much also in Italy. If life will take me to Trondheim a fourth time I will definitely visit Una for lunch again.
It is common among Italians to criticize fellow Italians who eat pizza abroad. The average Italian will swear that one can’t find good pizza beyond our national borders. I like to have my own opinion and try pizza where I travel. And at Una Pizzeria e Bar in Trondheim I had one of the best pizzas I have ever tasted. Including those I ate in Italy. What a delightful surprise!