History and development

Already during the neolithic age, ancient populations inhabited the Doss Trento, the isolated hill standing more than one hundred meters above the plain on the right bank of the river Adige, and now crowned by the monument devoted to Cesare Battisti. That height, called "Verruca" by Romans, has been used as a military stronghold, while it is nowadays agreed that the roman "Tridentum" stood on the left side of the Adige, beneath the modern town centre. The square of the roman town had its decumanus underneath the present via Manci and via Roma, and the cardum ran parallel to what now is via Belenzani.

Abandoned at the beginning of the Middle Age by the citizen looking for protection under the Doss (paleochristian ruins), Trento has been slowly repeopled; but we may talk of a real population increase only starting from the age of vicar Federico Vanga (in the XIII century), when the new city walls reached as far as the stream Fersina to the south and the ancient site of river Adige (which by that time flowed where now are Torre Vanga and Torre Verde) to the north. In 952 Trento, already been centre of a Longobard Duchy and afterwards of a Carolingian March, was detached by the emperor Otto I, together with the whole Verona March, from the Italian Kingdom and united to the Duchy of Bavaria, starting the political transition of the land from Italy to Germany. Concerned about having always at disposal the ways to Germany, the emperors endowed Trento bishops with the temporal power soon after year 1000. The prince-bishops were immediately involved, as Empire partisans, into the War of Investitures and in the struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines; the man who brought peace back to the region was that very same Federico Vanga, bishop and emperor's vicar from 1207 to 1218, who also begun the reconstruction of the Duomo (the cathedral). In 1273 the bishops were usurped of their rights by the counts of Tirol, previously the principate lawmen; from then on, the prince-bishops's independence has been only formal, since actually they became part of the Tirol County and followed its destiny.

When the Counts of Tirol extinguished in 1363, Trento passed to Rudolph of Hausburg. In 1407, with a revolt of the people, the prior privileges were recovered temporarily; but the people captain Rodolfo Belenzani, who was relying on Venice aid, was defeated and killed. During the following years, Venice expansionism forced more and more Trento towards the Empire; in 1511, reconquered Rovereto, the bishop signed with Maximilian I a treaty for protection. From 1516 to 1539 Trento had been governed by cardinal Bernardo Clesio, who gave to the city that renaissance look which is still characteristic of the central streets; he built the new palace at Buonconsiglio Castle and the church of S. Maria Maggiore, and prepared the famous Council which, in different session, was held between 1545 and 1563, mostly in the Duomo and in S. Maria Maggiore. The town then reached her maximum splendour, under the guide of the bishops of Madruzzo family who had the power for more than a century.

The following ages are remembered only for the Spanish Succession campaigns, during which Trento was ineffectively sieged by marshal VEND‘ME, the french again occupations of 1796 and 1801 (the secularizazion of the principate dates 1802), the brief unions with Bavaria (1806-1809) and with the napoleonic Italian Kingdom (1810-1813); then, the long last century of Austria domain, during which a strong economical and urbanistic growth took place: the flow of river Adige was deviated, while the city has ever since been enlarged, to the north and expecially to the south, up to the last world conflict, with residential quarters and industrial plants.

Places to visit in Trento

  1. PIAZZA DELLA FIERA (D2) The square, which covers a spacious parking garage, is flanked by a long stretch of embattled wall, built around the town in 1230. On the eastern side of the square, at the top of Via Mazzini, you can find the remains of "Il Torrione", also called "La Rotonda": this is a circular tower built in the sixteenth century and subsequently modified many times. Now it contains apartments.
  2. TRIDENTINE NATURAL SCIENCE MUSEUM (C2) (Open 9-12 am, 3-5.30 pm; closed on Mondays). The museum is housed in "palazzo Sardagna", a fifteenth-century building decorated by frescoes of the artist Fogliolino in Via Calepina n. 14. The geological, prehistorical,zoological and botanical sections of the museum contain a rich variety of material of mainly Tridentine origin. The testimonies of art of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic Ages in Trentino are of particular interest.
  3. PIAZZA DEL DUOMO* (C2)This square is the heart of the town; it is adorned by the "Fontana del Nettuno" (Fountain of Neptune), and is surrounded by buildings of noble character. The southern side is flanked by the "Duomo" (cathedral); To the east we find the twelfth-century "Palazzo Pretorio", a building with mullioned windows which houses the diocesan museum (an excavation site is being opened in front of it, to unearth Porta Veronese and catalogue Roman findings). This is followed by the tower "Torre Civica", situated to the north-east of the two Cazuffi houses, decorated by frescoes of the artist Fogliolino and by a small fountain, "Fontana dell'Aquila".
  4. DUOMO** (C2)The cathedral is a severe, romanic-gothic building of the twelfth-thirteenth century with a striking fifteenth-century tower and neoromanic lantern. Dedicated to Saint Vigilio (patron saint of Trento), it has graceful open galleries decorated by large rosettes on the front and transept, by sumptuous portals and a beautiful absidal section. This last borders with the "Castelletto", a twelfth-century building with mullioned windows and battlements. The interior is made up of a nave and two aisles with clustered pillars and cross-vaults. Staircases cut laterally across the walls at the beginning of both aisles. Funerary monuments of the fifteenth century are located along their whole length. Half way up the right-hand aisle, there is St. Anne's altar with decorations by Fogliolino. This is shortly followed by "la cappella del Crocifisso" (Crucifix chapel), which guards the historical wooden Crucifix (XVI century) of the German sculptor Sisto Frey, in front of which the Concilium formulated its decrees. The transept presents noteworthy remains of thirteenth- and fifteenth-century frescoes. A stone statue of "La Madonna degli Annegati" (Drowned peoples' Madonna) is situated at the bottom of the left hand aisle (XIII century). Its name goes back to the times when drowned people were identified in its presence. The statue used to be in an alcove outside the cathedral. A room below the church contains the remains of the paleochristian basilica of the sixth century (visiting hours: Mon.-Fri. from 10-12 am and 3-6 pm), used as catacombs for five centuries. Rebuilt and modified in the eleventh century, it was replaced by the present cathedral by archbishop Federico Vanga in the thirteenth century. It was excavated in 1977, and contains pieces of the outer walls, remains of the mosaic flooring and fragments of sculptures.
  5. PALAZZO PRETORIO (C2)(Closed due to the presence of the excavation site of Porta Veronese and the reordering of Roman remains). This twelfth century building, which has been modified more than once, closes off the eastern side of Piazza del Duomo. It houses the diocesan museum. It is flanked by the tower "Torre Civica" (41 metres high) of the thirteenth century.
  6. MUSEO DIOCESANO*(Closed for repairs; opening foreseen for end '94). Housed in Palazzo Pretorio, it contains the most precious pieces of the Duomo treasure: seven flemish tapestries* woven in Bruxelles by Pieter van Aelst at the beginning of the fifteenth century; engraved altars and wooden statues made in Trentino in the fifteenth-sixteenth century; panels and paintings (XV-XVIII century); mementoes of the Concilium of Trento. In the Treasure chamber: miniated sacramental (XI century); Treasure of the archbishop Federico Vanga (XII century); late-gothic pastoral of the bishop Giorgio Hack (XV century).
  7. VIA BELENZANI* (C2)This wide, elegant street is one of the town's most beautiful. It is flanked by Venetian-style renaissance buildings. Some of these have frescoed facades, such as n.20, fifteenth-century ""palazzo Geremia", which is also decorated with medallions and mullioned windows; the contemporary "casa Alberti Colico" (Alberti Colico house), richly decorated by mullioned windows and frescoes by Fogliolino, is situated close by, at n.32. Just across the street, palazzo Thun, once the residence of the Thun family, today houses the Town Hall. The church of St. Francesco Saverio looks onto the street. This building represents the highest expression of baroque art of the town.
  8. VIA MANCI (C2)Flanked by noteworthy buildings, such as baroque "palazzo Galasso", also called "palazzo del diavolo" (devil's building) at n.63 (built in 1602); at n.57 we find "palazzo Pedrotti" (XVI century), headquarters of the Tridentine Alpine Section (SAT) which also houses a small SAT museum (open Saturdays only, 10-12 am, 3-5 pm); close by stands the contemporary "palazzo Salvadori", a synagogue. "Palazzo del Monte", at the crossroads where the street meets via del Suffragio, is a fifteenth century building with a beautiful portal, mullioned windows and noteworthy frescoes picturing the tasks of Hercules, which were painted around 1540.
  9. CASTELLO DEL BUONCONSIGLIO** (B3) The castle used to be the residence of the bishop princes. It is surrounded by walls fortified with low turrets. It is made up of various parts: to the north, the cylindrical tower "torre Grande" stands over the embattled "Castelvecchio". Originally built in the thirteenth century and altered in 1475 according to the gothic-venetian style, the edifice surrounds a picturesque court with frescoed portico, decorated in part by Fogliolino (1535). The so-called "giunta Albertina" situated at the centre was built in the sixteenth century and joins the northern buildings to the "Magno Palazzo", to the south. This last was commissioned in 1530 (Renaissance period) by the bishop prince Bernardo Clesio, and is characterized by a wide, splendidly frescoed portico overlooking the "cortile dei Leoni", splendidly frescoed by Girolamo Romanino in 1531-32. The castle houses the CASTELLO DEL BUONCONSIGLIO MUSEUM (open 9-12 am and 2-5 pm from October to March; until 5.30 from April to September; closed on Mondays), Trentino headquarters of the "Museo proviciale d'Arte" (Art museum of the province) which also has sections in the castles Beseno, Stenico and Thun. The museum is made up of three sections: ancient, mediaeval and modern. From the entrance, across the garden and to the right are located the cells of the patriots Damiano Chiesa, Cesare Battisti and Fabio Filzi, executed in the trench behind the building in 1916. The museum also contains archeological findings, works of art (coins, manuscripts, sacred objects, paintings), and ethnographic material, displayed in various rooms of the Magno Palazzo and Castelvecchio. Many of these have carved wooden ceilings, frescoed by Dosso Dossi, Romanino and Fogliolino (XVI century). Of particular interest are the frescoes which picture the twelve months of the year in Torre dell'Aquila, painted by an anonymous fourteenth-century artist in the international gothic style. For securoty measures, visits are restricted to groups of max. twenty people, escorted by museum personnel). A restored building houses the civic museum of the Risorgimento and fight for freedom (opening hours; same as Castle museum), containing mainly relics and mementoes of the irredentist movement of the first world war and of the Resistance.
  10. PIAZZA RAFFAELLO SANZIO (B2)In the square stands the "Torre Verde" (Green Tower) with green tiling, which used to be part of the thirteenth century city walls.
  11. PIAZZA DANTE (B2)The square is delimited by the modern structure "palazzo della Regione" (Adalberto Libera, 1954-62) to the east, the railway station to the north-west and the "palazzo della Provincia" (hall of the Province) to the north. A public park occupies its centre, in which Cesare Zocchi's famous statue of Dante Alighieri was erected by the city in 1896 during Austrian rule to express its Italian sentiment. To the west of the square, next to the bus station, stands the church of S. Lorenzo (XII century), built in romanic style with gothic elements. The church was reconstructed in 1955 having suffered serious damage in the 1943 bombings.
  12. S. APOLLINARE (B1)Situated on the opposite bank of the Adige river, this romanic-gothic church is characterized by the portal and rosette, made of the red porphyry of Verona, its pointed-cusp roof and polygonal absis.
  13. PALAZZO DELLE ALBERE (D1)(Open 9-12 am, 2.30-6 pm; closed on Mondays). This square-shaped suburban villa with towers at its corners, surrounded by a moat, was commissioned by the bishop prince Cristoforo Madruzzo. Numerous frescoes used to decorate its walls, still faintly visible in places. It is now the residence of the Trento and Rovereto museum of modern and contemporary art, which illustrates a few important stages of Italian art: Romanticism, Divisionism, from the Ca Pesaro period to the twentieth century, from "spazialismo" to "informale". Among the artists of Trentino there are: Eugenio Prati, Umberto Moggioli, Luigi Bonazza, Tullio Garbari and Fortunato Depero.
  14. TORRE VANGA (B-C1)Torre Vanga is a square, embattled tower built in the thirteenth century to protect a bridge on the Adige river; it stands behind a twelvth century embattled building.
  15. SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE (C1-2)This church of the Renaissance period (built between 1520 and 1524), characterized by its portal and beautiful mullioned-window tower, is situated in the square which bears the same name at the beginning of Via Rosmini. Many Concilia were held within it, and it still holds numerous noteworthy objects: the marble choir (1534) is a masterpiece by Vincenzo and Gian Gerolamo Grandi of Vicenza. (Farther on along via Rosmini, at n.18, the mosaic floor of a roman villa of the second century A.D. can be seen in the courtyard.)
  16. SURROUNDINGS 3 Km to the north east of the city, stands DOSS TRENTO (B1), a hill which the Romans called "Verruca" offers a wide view over the city. At its summit there is the ring-shaped monument made of columns dedicated to Cesare Battisti (1935); the sacellum holds the martyr's tomb. A short distance away are the remains of a paleochristian basilica (first half of the sixth century); the National Museum of the Alpini(open from April to September 9.30-12 am and 3-5.30 pm; from October to March 10.30-12 am and 2.30-4 pm; closed on Mondays). The BELVEDERE (595 metres) can be reached either by cable car from S. Lorenzo bridge or by car (3 Km drive) and offers a view over the whole city.
  17. VIOTTE DEL MONTE BONDONE (1537 metres altitude, 19 Km drive). Mount Bondone dominates Trento from the south-west; it is well known for its rich alpine flora (employed fro curative hay baths) and as a skiing resort. The Viotte hollow is surrounded by several mountain peaks; the Palon (2090 m.), Doss D'Abramo (2140 m.), Monte Cornetto (2180 m.). In it we find the rifugio (mountain hut) "Alle Viotte" and the ALPINE BOTANICAL GARDEN (Open in June and September 9-12 am, 2.30-5 pm; in July and August 9-12 am and 2.30-6 pm), which is a section of the Museo Trentino di Scienze Naturali and contains over 2200 species of plants both from the region and the mountains of the world.
  18. VILLA MARGON Renaissance building characterized by porticoes, open galleries and frescoes of 1560 is situated 6 Km south of the city (no visitors allowed). In RAVINA, 4 Km south of the city, there is an interesting tower house.
  19. LAGO DI TOBLINO and LAGO DI S. MASSENZAThese two lakes are situated 16 Km west of the city, among the rocky mountains of the Valle del Sarca. The Mediaeval Castel Toblino stands on a peninsula in the first lake.
  20. LAVIS8 Km north of the city; it is famous for its wine production. its baroque S. Uldarico parish church exhibits two portals of the fifteenth century. The Paganella mountain can be reached from this area by cable car.
  21. MATTARELLO 7 Km south-east; there is the areonautics museum "Gianni Caproni" (Open 9 am - 1 pm and 2 - 6 pm; closed on mondays), which contains 18 vintage airplanes and various relics related to the history of the Italian air force.
  22. VIGOLO VATTARO 15.5 Km south-east of Trento is a popular resort. Its parish church (built in XVI century and subsequently modified) is characterized by a gothic presbytery. A castle is situated high over the village (reconstructed at hte beginning of the sixteenth century).

City map