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View of Trento

Neptune's fountain, Trento

Duomo, Trento

Welcome to Trento
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 104,946 (2001)
Official website: Trento
Wikipedia: Trento

Map: MapQuest

The city of Trento, on the banks of the Adige River in a deep mountain valley, is one of the alternating capitals of the Trentino-Alto Adige Region.  The city shares the Region's general history, but with the kind of specific differences and individual events and occurrences that one expects.

The Trento area was probably first settled by Celtic tribes many centuries before the Romans are said to have founded it in the 1st Century AD.  When Rome fell, the Goths subjugated it, then the Lombards, then the Franks.  However, from the 10th Century to the early 19th Century, however, it was a Bishopric of the Holy Roman Empire, and was ruled from the Castello del Buonconsiglio.

Trento has historical fame as the city where the Catholic forces, at the Council of Trent, (1545-1563 AD) launched the Counter Reformation, to shore up their power and religion against the  Protestant movement - the Reformation - that began when Luther nailed his thesis to the church door in Wittenburg.

In 1796, Napoleon conquered Italy and dispensed with ecclesiastical rule in Trento, but with Napoleon's defeat, Trento came under direct Austrian rule.  However, the Austro-Hungarian Empire came apart at the seams during and as a result of World War 1, and the Region and City in 1918 came, at last, into Italy, with a short reversion back into the Austrian fold during World War II.  Because Trento is on the route used by Nazi forces from Austria to Italy through the Brenner Pass, the city endured heavy, destructive bombing at the hands of the Allies.

Trento thrives on transportation and rail support, services, tourism, and a smattering of small industry, and supports a small but important University, the University of Trento.

With its distinctively alpine atmosphere, Trento, has a largely Italian population, but its Austrian heritage percolates through the culture, and affects all things.  It is a pretty town, with sunny piazzas, and buildings done in pastels, many with wooden balconies.  Most of the ecclesiastical and public buildings are of the Renaissance style, but the German Gothic plays an important role.  Look closely in the Piazza Fiera and you will see a circular tower and lengths of the old medieval wall, which at one time encircled the city and connected it with the Castello del Buonconsiglio.

The Castle interior, which now houses a museum, has a cycle of Renaissance frescoes. 

The Cathedral (Duomo) of Saint Viglio was built in the 13th Century in the Gothic-Renaissance style, on a Roman Basilica, remnants of which can be seen in the crypt.  The Piazza Duomo to the side of the church contains a wonderful neo-classical fountain dedicated to Neptune.

Keep an eye open for the Torre Verde, on the Adige River (second largest in Italy). It's the spot where the Bishops of old tossed their headless, executed victims into the river.

Along the river also, you will encounter the Palazzo delle Albere which hosts a modern art museum.

There are Roman ruins, mostly underground, to be seen along via Prepositura, and in Piazza Cesare BattistiCesare Battisti, was an Italian patriot who angered the local (and Austrian) authorities by promoting the annexation of Trentino to Italy, and had his head removed for his trouble.  There's another monument to him - a statue - just west of town, on the Verruca hill, where you will find more Roman ruins.

Back in the City, look for the Chiesa Santa Maria Maggiore, built in 1520, and the modernist train station and central post office both designed by the futurist architect Angioli Mazzoni.

So, that's it.  Great little place to visit whether as a destination where you can start an alpine holiday, or as a place where you might, for instance, participate in the annual film festival - The Mountain Film Festival held every spring.  Who knows, we may bump into one another.

By Vian Andrews 11-09-05

Region of Trentino-Alto Adige



By Car: 230km (143 miles) NW of Milan, 101km (63 miles) N of Verona, 57km (35 miles) S of Bozen


Mountain Film Festival

Museo Storico


View of Trento