I got to visit Trento, Italy with the Traverse Conference in June 2019. Previously, I’d only been as far north as Verona, which was and still is my favorite city in Italy. Trento isn’t far behind though and has some real gems.
Where is Trento?
Trento is a city in one of the northernmost regions of Italy, not far from the Swiss border. It’s in the Trentino Alto Adige region which extends south to Lago di Garda, east to encompass the Dolomites, and borders Switzerland to the north. You can take a bus or train there from Verona, although most of the visitors are coming south from Germany and Switzerland.
Trento is actually one of the most visited cities in Italy, based on hotel rooms rented. Well, that’s what Wikipedia says. I don’t really understand how it beats Rome in foreign visitors!
The Perfect Landscape
The Dolomites are in Trentino, but the whole region is covered in mountains, rivers, vineyards and villas. Like many of the cities in the region, there’s a funicular up the side of the mountain across the river from Trento that you can ride up for some fantastic views. The ride is a usual bus ticket for €1.10 ($1.20), which can be purchased on the Open Move App.
If you happen to be with a group, check out the football pitch on the mountain at the top of the funicular. You can play a game up there with the city laid out below (well, you can’t really see the city from the pitch but the location is still beautiful).
Real Italian Pizza
Yes, I know that pizza originated from the Napoli region of Italy and I’ve been told that they have the best in the world, but I’ve yet to verify that for myself.
In the meanwhile, I found #PizzaRoad not far from the central train station in Trento. Along with several other bloggers, we went there for one of our first meals in Trento. Wow!
I kinda took control (and possibly not to everyone’s liking) when I arranged with the chef to get two large pizzas with four variations each. Two of the bloggers were vegetarian so two of the variations were too. The large pizzas are really large – over two feet across! I didn’t know what all the selections were, but there were over a dozen different toppings. I particularly liked the different types of Italian ham and cheeses, but the tuna option wasn’t bad either.
One thing I’ve learned is that pepperoni in Italy isn’t American pepperoni. I don’t know how it got so confused, but pepperoni in Italy is bell peppers, not spicy sausage. If you want that, you should ask for salami picante.
Awesome Event Venues
Visit Trentino – the Trento Tourism Board – did a massive job accommodating the Traverse conference. We had a few different venues throughout the week, including a pop-up tent in the main square.
The main seminar location was at the Social Theater Opera House. This beautiful building was built back in 1819 with gold stucco and neoclassical designs. There are six meeting rooms and a beautiful hall under the lofty rafters, but the really spectacular room was the main opera hall. Trento might be far from the Renaissance architecture of Florence, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
Two of the evening parties also had really cool venues. One was at the Mart Museum in Rovereto. After getting an after-hours tour of this modern art museum (MArt), we made our way into the glass-domed, central courtyard. That’s where we had the Traverse Creator Awards, along with a delicious dinner buffet and a festive after-party full of dancing and camaraderie.
The other was in the Piedicastello tunnels. These are the two old tunnels leading west out of Trento. In 2007, new tunnels were opened a few feet away from them, and these two were converted into an art gallery and event venue. The acoustics are awesome, albeit a bit loud for conversations and networking.
No Italian city would be complete without the gelato. Long ago when I first visited Pisa, I was indoctrinated into what true Gelato was and how it compared to other tourist trap options. In a nutshell, the purer it is, the shorter its lifespan. To keep it fresh, gelaterias will use metal canisters. This was described to me as keeping the air and light from affecting the flavor while preventing it from melting too soon.
The other gelato option you’ll see all over town are tubs piled high with brightly-colored ice cream. While this might fulfill the gelato requirements of using whole milk and slow-churning to get less air into the mixture, the difference between that and the high-quality stuff is noticeable. The best gelato uses almost no cream, very little sugar or other sweeteners, and no eggs which hold it together.
Shortly after arriving in Trento, I ran across Gelateria Cherry. This little hole-in-the-wall had some truly legendary flavors. And not just based on my opinion; they’ve won some national awards for their gelato. I think their chocolate was their pride and joy, but I was particularly partial to the caramel and praline flavors that they had. But the white chocolate and orange was delicious, and so was the cherry, the espresso flavor, the… Yeah, I had a few cones in my week visiting Trento.
The Gorge of Ponte Alto
Sadly, I didn’t get much of a chance to explore Trento. Despite being in the city for nearly a week, one day was spent exploring Riva del Garda and another was back in Verona. The conference accounted for two and a half days, leaving me with just a few hours here and there. I missed all the castles and museums, which just means I’ll have to go back someday. The two attractions I did make it to were very nice. I already mentioned the funicular, and the other was the Gorge of Ponte Alto.
I got to take a tour of the gorge on my first day in Trento with a group of other bloggers. For safety reasons, you have to go with a guide, but the attraction is only €5 (or free with the Visit Trentino Card) and I think it’s the most spectacular attraction in town.
For millennia, the Fersina stream has been carving an impossibly deep chasm between two mountains on the outskirts of Trento. Several times the river flooded, so in the sixteenth century, waterworks were built in the ravine, creating two waterfalls with a total drop of over 130 feet! I don’t know the exact depth of the ravine, but I do know that in some places, the walls are less than six feet wide!
The tour starts off with an induction to the history of the region and a lesson in the waterworks. We then went to a viewpoint of the upper waterfalls. These alone were gorgeous. It’s so rare to find a waterfall like this within a city (although it’s just on the outskirts).
The tour then leads down to the second, lower waterfall for a view down from the top. The water simply disappears into the darkness far below. Finally the tour descends down a steep spiral stairwell carved into the rock. We emerged onto a catwalk installed along the wall behind the waterfall. The curtain of water was a raging torrent rushing down in front of us. I loved it!
Returning to Trento
This isn’t really a guide of Trento. As mentioned, there were too many attractions I didn’t get to see in the city. I did get to eat at some utterly fantastic restaurants, but I didn’t even stay in the town but rather in the next village over.
Trento isn’t entirely budget-friendly, partially because of their current lack of hostels, but meals are pretty comparable to other Italian hotspots like Rome, Venice and Florence. The attractions are fairly cheap, and getting the Visit Trentino Card is a great option. There are also great places to stay throughout the region of Trentino.
I definitely want to return myself someday. I still have to get up into the Dolomites, and I want to see the MUSE Science Museum. Sadly it won’t be the same without the team of wonderful bloggers I got to share my time with this year.
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