I Love Touring Italy - The Trentino Subregion
Copyright © 2007 Levi Reiss
you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the
Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy on the border of both
Switzerland and Austria. Among its tourist attractions are the Dolomite
Mountains, that the famous architect Le Corbusier called “The most
beautiful work of architecture even seen,” glacier lakes, and Alpine
forests. In fact the region is composed of two parts, Trentino in the
south and Alto Adige in the north. This article presents Trentino; a
companion article presents Alto Adige.
We’ll start our tour of Trentino at Rovereto near the border with Lombardy. We proceed northeast to the local capital, Trento, and head west first past the village of Comano with its thermal waters then past the typical Trentino village of Tione. Here we turn northeast to finish our tour at the ski resort Madonna di Campiglio. There is a lot more skiing in the area, but it’s over the border into Lombardy not very far from Switzerland.
The medieval city of Rovereto, population about 35 thousand, has had its share of warfare. In 1796 Napoleon won a bloody battle against Austria. And in World War I Italian and Austrian troops fought a bloody, inconclusive battle. Every night fall the thousands who died there are honored by La Campana dei Caduti (The Bell of the Fallen) that tolls 100 times in remembrance of the fallen of all wars as a warning for future peace. This bell, cast in 1924, is the largest bell in the world that rings full peal.
The Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra (Italian Historical War Museum) was founded after World War I to commemorate the war and to prevent future wars. It is located in a medieval castle that exemplifies Fifteenth Century Venetian military architecture with its tunnels, moats, and towers. It is perhaps the world’s largest anti-war museum. An annex displays World War I artillery in an air-raid shelter from that time. For a change of pace, visit MART, the Museo D’Arte Moderna e Contemporaneo (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art). The focus is on a local artist, Fortunato Depero, but the collection includes works from Picasso, Leger, Klee, Kandinsky, Lichtenstein, Modigliani, and Warhol among others.
Trento, population about one hundred thousand if you add in the suburbs, is Trentino’s major city. Its main historical claim to fame was the Council of Trent stretching from 1545 to 1563 that marked the beginning of the Counter-Reformation. The fight to join Trento-Alto Adige to Italy was a major reason for Italian participation in World War I.
The Duomo (Cathedral of San Virgilio) is a Twelfth-Thirteenth Century Romanesque-Gothic structure built over a Sixth Century Church dedicated to the city’s patron saint, San Virgilio. Whenever the Council of Trent came to a decision, it was read at the Cappela del Crocifisso (Chapel of the Crucifix) located within the cathedral.
The Sixteenth Century Renaissance Santa Maria Maggiore Church hosted many sessions of the Council of Trent. The courtyard of the building at 18 via Rosmini contains the mosaic floor of a Roman villa of the Second Century A.D.
The Castello del Buonconsiglio (Castle of Good Counsel) started in the Thirteenth Century next to the city walls. Over the centuries it grew. This castle includes the Museo Provinciale d’Arte (Provincial Art Museum). Make sure to see the frescoes including the famous Fifteenth Century Cycle of the Months, portraying contemporary life in Medieval Trentino in the Torre Aquila (Eagle Tower) and the more recent (late Sixteenth Century) frescoes depicting hunting scenes in the Torre del Falco (Falcon Tower).
Other sights to see include several historic churches, underground remains of Roman streets and villas, the modernistic train station, the Museo Storico in Trento (Trento Historical Museum) scheduled to reopen soon if not already, and the Museo dell’Aeronautica Gianni Caproni (Gianni Caproni Aeronautical Museum) located at the airport. Check out the Mountain Film Festival.
Not far from Trento, especially if you have a car and are willing to drive on Alpine roads competing against Alpine drivers, are two great sites; the medieval spa town of Levico Terme and the Alpine Botanical Garden with over a thousand species of plants originating in the Alps and other mountain ranges across the globe. Madonna di Campiglio advertises itself as Italy’s number one ski resort. The clientele is mostly Italian and the slopes tend to be intermediate, but there are slopes for beginners and experts as well. The resort boasts 57 lifts and 150 kilometers (90 miles) of ski runs with a capacity of over thirty thousand skiers per hour. There are 40 kilometers (25 miles) of cross-country ski trails. You can go to the city center and back without ever removing your skis. For a change of pace, visit the nearby Adamello-Brenta Natural Park encompassing 450 kilometers (300 miles) of mountain paths, but you will have to remove your skis to do so. This resort recently hosted the Snowboard World Championships. Head a bit north to Campo Carlo Magno, a mountain pass that Charlemagne is said to have traversed on the way to his coronation in Rome way back in the year 800.
Since you have come this far you sho