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Called the “Italian Shangri-La," Merano is set in a valley surrounded by the Alps. Pictured is Trauttmansdorff Castle and its Botanical Gardens.

The Enchantment of Trentino

Located within the far northern region of Trentino Alto Adige is the Province of Trento, which is generally known as Trentino. Trento is the capital city of the province and lies to the south of the city of Bolzano. The province is mainly formed by mountains and valleys of amazing landscapes of rare beauty. The mountains are the Tridentine Alps and the Dolomites, which are also known as the Monti Pallidi (Pale Mountains), due to the rock formation’s ability to reflect the colors of the sun. There visitors can witness the phenomenon known as alpenglow, when the mountains take on mesmerizing rose hues under the light of the setting sun.

The area has been inhabited since the Stone Age, when settlements began within the valley of the Adige River, where the climate is milder. In the early Middle Ages, this area was included within the Kingdom of Italy. It became part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1027, with the establishment of the Bishopric of Trent. It was during the Protestant Reformation that Trento hosted one of the most important councils in the history of the Roman Catholic Church – The Council of Trent, held in three major sessions from 1545 to 1563. These sessions articulated the Churches doctrine in response to the growing Protestant problem.

After the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, the area was absorbed into the Austrian county of Tyrol. It was the scene of heavy fighting during World War I and was directly on the front lines between Austria-Hungary and Italy. Trentino was occupied by Italy in November 1918 and was annexed in 1919 by the Kingdom of Italy. After World War II, the Italian and Austrian Foreign Ministers signed an agreement to create the autonomous region of Trentino-South Tyrol, consisting of the provinces of Trentino and South Tyrol. Trentino enjoys considerable autonomy from the government in Rome and has its own elected government and legislative assembly.

As complicated as it political history might seem, one feature is unquestionable – the awe-inspiring beauty of the province. The landscape abounds with natural treasures, among which are the famous Segonzano Pyramids. These bizarre columns are formed by high peaks that are in turn topped by boulders. There is also the spectacular Nardis Cascades in Val di Genova, where the white water rushes over contrasting black rocks. Beautiful valleys such as those of Val di Fassa, Val di Fiemme and Val di Non run between the Dolomites and are home to excellent tourist resorts, surrounded by breathtaking lakes, woods and pastures. For those seeking a more relaxing vacation, try the thermal spas of Levico, Arco, Pejo and Torbole for a luxurious, pampered stay.

The Tridentine Alps boast excellent hotels and spas and offer the chance to practice a range of winter sports. Trento is famous for the beauty of its landscape and also for the quality of the snow it receives during the winter, making it a favorite destination for skiers. It has world-class ski hubs with hundreds of miles of slopes, particularly Madonna di Campiglio, Canazei, Cavalese and San Martino di Castrozza. However, it is not just during the winter months that Trentino is popular; these locations are visited by tourists throughout the year, with many opportunities for vacations amidst the natural beauty and in the case of Pinzolo, the unusual 16th century fresco Danse Macabre, preserved in the Church of San Lorenzo.


The southern area of Trento possesses a different, but equally enchanting landscape, with a warmer climate, dense vegetation and the extraordinary Lake Garda. For most, the first stop on a tour of the Province is the city of Trento. It lies in a wide glacial valley known as the Adige Valley, just south of the Dolomite range. It is the educational, scientific, financial and political center of the region. The University of Trento ranks as one of the top colleges in Italy and the city typically ranks as one of the top ten in the country for its quality of life. It contains a picturesque Medieval and Renaissance historic center, which is dominated by its imposing castle, Castello del Buonconsiglio, which is surrounded by immense walls that are one of the great monuments in the region. The architecture of the city center shows its Renaissance influence in the Piazza del Duomo and the Fountain of Neptune at its center. Nearby are the Palazzo Pretorio and the Cathedral of San Vigilio which were the venues for the Council of Trent.

Very much alive and rich in culture, the town of Rovereto is home to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto. Other museums in Rovereto include the Historical War Museum and the Castel Dante War Memorial, while on the banks of Lake Garda, the village of Riva del Garda offers unusual landscapes, such as the breathtaking fortress, simply known as Rocca, which glistens in its reflection on Garda’s clear waters.

The Wine Routes of Alto Adige are a perfect way to spend a day during the spring, summer and fall, as it winds its way through the Val di Non and Val di Sole, stopping for tastes of the region’s excellent wines. It is treat for the senses as visitors are captivated by the majesty of the mountains and immersed in the heritage of province, visible in the architecture of its tiny villages along the route. Throughout the year, many traditional festivals take place in the province, such as the Trento’s Feste Vigiliane in June and the famous Christmas Market in the winter.

The summer is packed with events and the many castles scattered throughout the province become the settings for music, theatre and dance festivals. One of the most impressive is the Palio della Brenta al Borgo in the small town of Brenta Valsugana. The festivities began on Tuesday (August 20) and continue through Saturday, renewing the ancient social rivalry across the banks of the Brenta River. It is a match between the Farinoti (whose name is derived from flour) who were the nobles of the land and the Semolti (whose name is derived from semolina), who worked the fields. No longer is the event about class struggles, it is filled with pageantry and processions, themed challenges, a Renaissance banquet on the banks of the Brenta, plus concerts, exhibitions, fashion shows and the traditional foods of the region. The festivities are capped by the actual race, contested on rafts which are navigated down the river.

The 2018 Publishers Tour spent time in this beautiful section of Italy and everyone came away in love with the province. Not to be missed is Merano, one of the most unusual cities in this northern region. It is completely surrounded by snowy peaks that reach 8,000 feet above the city and is called the “Italian Shangri-La.” Brixen is the oldest town in the province and is set in a broad Alpine valley. In addition to its lovely setting, Brixen is the artistic and cultural capital of the valley. The beauty and diversity within this northern province cannot be overstated. When people visit Trentino, they uniformly have the same impression – they cannot wait to go back!