Trento is located in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige in North of Italy. A hidden gem that’s featuring a beautiful blend of the Italian medieval, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture with the most charming warm colors, and spectacular views over the mountains surrounding it. With this travel guide to Trento, you’ll discover all the great places to visit in the town, along with some tips for your trip to Trento!
When I first headed to Trento, I went to meet a friend, and I had no idea what an amazing place I’m headed to! When it comes to real Italian style places up north, you might be suprised to discover, that there are as many amazing destinations, as if you’d be heading to Tuscany, or Lazio regions. Visiting Trento is definitely bucket list worthy![etsy-shop shop_name=”GAELBoutiqueCo” section_id=”32066568″]
Brief history of Trento
Trento was occupied by the Romanc in the 1st century BC, which before was a celtic village. Over the centuries, the town was concured by Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Lombards and Franks as well. Then, it became part of the Holy Roman Empire in the 11th century. In the 12th century, Conrad II created the Prince- Bishops of Trento, which had their residence later on in the Buonconsiglio Castle. Starting in the 14th century, all the way to the beginning of the 20th century, Trento was ruled by Austria, and the Habsburg royal family. This ended with the WW I, whichafter Trento was returned to Italy.
Before we jump to the 20th century, in the 19th century Trento was concurred by France, and it became for a short period part of Napoleon’s Italy. Locals have fought against France, while approx 4000 trentinians died on the battlefield. When Napoloen was defeated, Trento returned to Austria, under the administration of Tyrol. Trento joined the 1st World War, to fight against Austria-Hungary, with the lead of Cesare Battisti. He was then captured and executed on the courtyard of Buonconsiglio Castle in Trento. As mentioned, with the end of the war, Trento has finally been returned to Italy in 1920.
Location – How to get to Trento, and best time to visit!
If you’re coming from outside of Italy, and you’re looking for the closest airports, Verona, Venice, and Milan are the closest cities to Trento. Then from any of these cities you can reach the town by train.
The trains are usually departing from Verona Porta Nuova train station, so if you’re coming from Venice or Milan, you’ll need to change trains here. If you’re headed from Austria, you can also reach Trento by train from that direction! Otherwise, you can always visit by car, or motorbikes obviously.
Things to see in Trento
You wouldn’t guess, but there are so many things to see in Trento, that if you’re planning to do it all, two days won’t be enough for it! Especially if you’d like to add some hikes, or a visit to any of the lakes around Trento, it’s going to be difficult to visit all the museums you could otherwise do.
So, if you’re visiting Trento, and you’re interested to do all the things listed in this post, and add some activities outside the town too, make sure you’re planning your trip for at least 3 days long! The guide doesn’t include the MUSE museum, or the day trips from Trento.
#1 Buonconsiglio Castle Museum
The Buonconsiglio Castle is definitely on top of the things to do in Trento! The castle has a really colorful history during the rule of the Prince-Bishops of Trento, the Medieval Age and the Renaissance. When visiting the castle, you’ll get the chance to discover both sides of the building complex. The medieval frescoes, the history of the feudal age. Adding to this the Magno Palazzo with the stunning renaissance architecture, ceilings, museum collection and frescoes that decorate the rooms and hallways.
The museum functioning in the Buonconsiglio castle has a really large collection dating back to the Roman Empire, and following the history of the town of Trento into the 19th century. Buonconsiglio is hiding one of the most remarcable Gothic frescoes from the 15th century in their Eagle Tower, the Cycle of the Months. When you’re visiting the castle, I really recommende buying the extra ticket to visit the tower. It is indeed incredible! As the last, but not least highlight of Buonconsiglio Castle, climb to the top floor to get the most stunning panoramic view along Trento and the mountains embracing it.
For a detailed guide about the castle, go ahead and check my guide to Buonconsiglio, that has a great photo gallery added to it for inspiration!
#2 Wander around the town of Trento
The clear mountain air, combined with colorful buildings, stunning frescoes, and beautiful architecture makes Trento special. One of the most important things to do in Trento, is to have a long walk all around the old town. So much to discover, so many beautiful streets, squares, and shops with local products, that can’t be missed.
Make sure to add to your itinerary the Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Piazza del Duomo as first. You can stop by for a quick aperitivo, or a coffee while enjoying the views and architecture. Then, on Piazza del Duomo, you’ll see the beautiful Fontana del Nettuno fountain, and you can also visit the Diocesan Museum. Don’t miss the beautiful street of Giannantonio Manci, and the palazzo covered with frescoes, Palazzo Meli del Monte either.
#3 Duomo di Trento
Duomo di Trento is located on the previously mentioned Piazza del Duomo, in the old town of Trento. It’s the most remarkable church in the town, therefor one of the top things to see in Trento.
The cathedral was built on top of a church from the 6th century, originally in Lombard-Romanesque style. The work went on for over a hundred years between the 13th and 14th centuries, while the design has been transformed and gained a visible Gothic domination on it. The interior is decorated with beautiful frescoes over the nave with two ailes.
You’ll also see an amazing immense rosette window as well as the Wheel of Fortune when you enter the cathedral! Once visiting Trento, make sure to visit the duomo di Trento and get lost in the spirit of the Christian history of the cathedral.
#4 Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore
Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore was built in the 16th century by Antonio Medaglia, on the model of the cathedral of Mantua. Santa Maria Maggiore is a remarcable Renaissance church, that has the tallest tower in the town of Trento. The church consist of a single aisle, with many chapels on the sides, and Baroque marble altars.
When you visit Trento, you can add this church to your list of things to do in Trento, being the second most significant church of the town. In front of the church, you’ll find the previously mentioned Piazza di S. Maria Maggiore, where you’ll also find restaurants and bars with outdoor tables for a quick stop.
#6 Cesare Battisti Mausoleum
I have mentioned in the history of Trento, that Cesare Battisti was the leader of the Italian army of this region in WW I, and he was then captured and executed in the courtyard of Cuonconsiglio Castle. The mausoleum is located on Doss Hill in Trento, near the Adige river.
The monument was built by Ettore Fagioli in the 1930s’, as the final resting place for the Italian politician. You can hike up the hill to visit the mausoleum, from where you’ll also gain a beautiful view on the surroundings. Important to mention here though, that the monument is surrounded by a beautiful national park, that you can head to explore once you’re up there!
#6 Discover the Giardini Pubblici
The first place you’ll see when you get off a train to Trento is the Giardini Pubblici. It’s located right outside the train station, by crossing the road and headin on your right. At the top of the park, right opposit the station, you can see an immense monument for Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian literature.
Entering, and walking through the Giardini Pubblici, you’ll find a little lake, that’s occupied by hundreds of ducks, and by sitting to Liber Cafe, you’ll gain a stunning view over the lake, and the picturesque mountains in the background. Definitely one of the best things to do in Trento!
Where to eat in Trento? The best pizza in the city and more…
When I call this the best pizza, I mean that it is the third best pizza I have ever tried in my life. The first place is still held by the Vesuvio pizza I had in Sorrento, the second place is for the pizza I tried in Sirmione. Now, this one above occupies the third place, making Trento the town where I had my third best pizza of my life!
If you’re visiting Trento, make sure to note for yourself the restaurant called Uva & Menta. It is considered by locals as well one of the best pizzeria in the town, so needless to say, that it is really busy in the evenings. To make sure you don’t have to wait, check the linked website for contact info and table booking!
Two basics when it comes to eating in Italy. In the mornings, you’re not having huge amount of food in this country, instead you go for a brioche and coffee. You can get brioche with cream (personal favorite), pistacchi, chocholate, almond, and many more. Always look for cafes that have these yummys’! In Trento I’d definitely recommende Caracolito Caffè Pasticceria for a great breakfast and cappuccino!
As for an aperitivo, especialy one that can be enjoyed in a quiet park with a spectacular view on the mountains, I’d definitely say to visit the Giardini Pubblici, right near the train station. At Liber Cafè they have some amazing meat products that they served on side of the spritz! The speck from Trento is absolutely delicious!