Nature and Landscapes
Skiing, Hiking and Wellness Activities
The region’s main attraction, the majestic peaks, are within everyone’s capabilities because they can be reached by: hiking trails, via ferrata (which are well established rock climbing paths), or comfortable chair lifts that reach even the highest altitudes. At the top, alpine refuges offer refreshments and incredible views. The main tourist season is the winter, when the most renowned ski resorts in Europe attract the interest of visitors: Madonna di Campiglio, Ortisei and Corvara. But even in summer, numerous vacationers flock to the mountains to benefit from the healthy and cool climate of the beautiful Alpine lakes. The many different spas are the second attraction, offering wellness activities combined with fairytale landscapes to create a regenerating stay in nature.
The Trentino side of Lake Garda is the most known and visited corner. In addition to the magnificent lake with its intense blue color and its visitor friendly coasts, Garda Trentino is a paradise for sailing sports enthusiasts, thanks to the predictable supply of winds that never stop blowing and allow you to sail at any time of the day. The alpine climate mitigated by the Mediterranean influence of Garda has favored the growth and development of indigenous species that can be admired especially in the local natural Park of Baldo Trentino, which has earned the title of Hortus Italiae “the Garden of Italy“. Here, as in Merano, thanks to the mild climate, the tourist season lasts from March to November.
Another strong point of Trentino-Alto Adige are the 1000 km of cycle paths, interconnected with the railways for green mobility, which extend mostly along the banks of the main waterways, where there are also various bars and cafes.
There are ten protected natural areas in the region, among which there is also a large part of the Stelvio National Park shared with Lombardy and a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve that stretches from Garda to the Brenta Dolomites, whose pinnacles shaped the history of mountaineering and at whose feet is the wonderful Lake Molveno, which boasts the Blue Flag obtained for the quality of the water. The area boasts flora and fauna of native species unique in the world and some animals now extinct in the rest of the Alps, such as the lynx, the brown bear and the bearded vulture.
From the Small Dolomites to the Lessini plateau, in Vallarsa and on the Pasubio massif, the wild landscapes are still intact and man’s work can only be found in the remains of the fortifications erected by Austrian and Italian soldiers over a hundred years ago. The incredible Road of the 52 Tunnels lets us retrace, on foot, bike or horseback, a dense network of paths dating back to the First World War. Going north we find the Valsugana, adorned by splendid valleys, plateaus and numerous swimming lakes, some of which have earned the European Blue Flag. To the north east is the Val Pusteria which ends with the famous three peaks of Lavaredo, included in the homonymous natural park where you find the azure, much loved lago di Braies.
Further south, the most attractive valleys open up, such as Val Badia and Val Gardena. All around, the Sella group, the Catinaccio and the Sassolungo group form the ideal setting for the most refined and exclusive winter holidays.
The southern part of Alto Adige, on the other hand, is rich in terraced vineyards and apple orchards, characteristic of the landscape of the Bassa Atesina, where the largest natural basin in the province is located, Lake Caldaro, renowned for sailing sports and for carp fishing.
The Historical Cities of Trentino A. Adige
A Frontier Land Between the German and the Latin World
Trentino – Alto Adige, as a borderland, presents remarkable cultural contrasts, but has been able to keep faith with its identity. Loved by Italians who perceive it as belonging to the German world and appreciated by tourists from across the Alps for the Mediterranean character of its climatic resorts, it is historically linked to the Habsburg dynasty but populated by five ethnic groups (Italian, German, Ladin, Mocheno and Cimbrian) whose coexistence has not always been peaceful.
Although devoid of cities of art comparable to those found in the rest of Italy, the region hides countless sites of interest, many of which are unknown to most.
Trento e Bolzano
The main cities are the two capitals, Trento and Bolzano, the first known for having hosted the famous Council of Trent that reformed the Catholic Church in the mid-sixteenth century, the latter for being a well-known and thriving commercial center in medieval and modern times.
Trento stands out for its marvelous Renaissance buildings constructed mainly to house the highest ecclesiastical offices during the Council of Trent, while Bolzano is the classic example of a thriving German merchant town, with all the elements of traditional architecture in the German world.
Both capitals are prominent museum and cultural centers. In Trento the provincial collections are housed in the ancient residence of the Prince Bishop, the Buonconsiglio Castle where Romanesque and Gothic elements merge into a harmonious complex of buildings. The city can boast a modern museum of natural sciences, the MUSE, designed by Renzo Piano, equipped with a tropical greenhouse and numerous multimedia installations.
Bolzano also boasts several museums, the most famous being the archaeological one, where the remains of the Similaun mummy are preserved and the MUSEION, a museum of modern art among the most renowned in the Alps.
Rovereto and Merano
Other important centers are Rovereto and Merano. The former, the capital of Vallagarina and the industrial heart of the province with a typically Italian character, is called Atene del Trentino for having established itself as a cultural center of national importance. Rich in splendid Baroque palaces, there is also a very valuable modern art museum, the MART which houses a vast collection dedicated to futurism. Merano, a well-known thermal resort during the Belle Epoque with a Nordic appearance, is a tourist center where the beauty of the landscapes blends with the rich cultural fabric. One of the most beautiful and modern botanical gardens in Europe are located at Trauttmansdorf Castle. The castle also contains the Touriseum, an interactive museum on tourism in Alto Adige.
Riva del Garda, Arco and Bressanone
The minor cities worthy of interest are Riva del Garda, Arco and Bressanone. The first two, close to Lake Garda, are sought-after spas, while Bressanone was the seat of the Prince Bishops who administered much of today’s Tyrolean territory. All three towns boast historic centers animated by valuable palaces, characteristic narrow, winding alleys and museums. In Arco there is the museum dedicated to Giovanni Segantini, illustrious representative of symbolism, originally from the city.
Always an area of considerable strategic importance because of Brenner Pass, the preferred alpine route from Europe to Italy and the Mediterranean, Trentino-Alto Adige is still dotted with more than 800 medieval fortifications, which give the region the highest density of defensive bulwarks in the world.
Folklore and Events
The Carnival, Celebrations in Traditional Garb and Parades
Given the presence of five linguistic groups, the region offers an immense patrimony of customs and traditions that vary from valley to valley. The Carnival of Termeno is very interesting with the Egetmann parade, the Val Floriana parade with the characteristic Matoci, and the Val di Fassa parade with its traditional Ladin costumes.
An interesting event is the feast of San Nicola da Bari, on December 5, where the saint is accompanied during the parade by demonic figures, the Krampus, who inspire fear in children who have not behaved well during the year.
Very significant for the German linguistic culture is the Night of the Sacred Heart, which recalls the terror of the French invasion on June 3, 1796, when fires in the shape of cross hearts were set on all the mountains of Alto Adige and in some of Trentino. Since then, every year, the same night shines with bonfires.
In the mountain valleys, rituals related to transhumance are deeply felt, with celebratory parades in costume and cattle adorned with flowers.
The celebration of the patron saint, San Vigilio, is very heartfelt in the capital and is celebrated for ten days at the end of June. During the festival, the contest between the Ciusi di Feltre and the Gobjs of Trento is famous, in an exhilarating battle of polenta.
The Flavors of Trentino A. Adige
Polenta, Canederli, Spezzatino and Other Dishes of the Peasant Tradition:
Regional cuisine is very simple and tied to a peasant tradition. Dishes such as burnt flour soup, brò brusà, and mosa made with milk and old bread, recall an impoverished past where waste was considered a sacrilege.
The best known specialties are more reminiscent of Germanic rather than Mediterranean gastronomy, except for the use of the excellent olive oil produced in the Alto Garda area and the polenta, included in every Sunday delicacy. The polenta of yellow corn of the Valsugana and one made with a variety of reddish corn typical of Storo in western Trentino are very popular.
Usually polenta accompanies spezzatino (beef or game stew), goulasch which is spicy like the Central European variant, or the tonco del pontesel made with various meats.
Other typical dishes are the canaderli or knodel (dumplings), eaten in broth or dry, the Spaetzle (flour dumplings), and the orzotto, pearl barley used as a risotto or in the famous zuppa d’orzo altoatesina (barley soup).
Then we have the tortel di patate, grated potato pancakes often accompanied by local meats and cheeses,
The most famous cured meat of the region is absolutely speck, then pancetta and various types of sausages such as Kaminwuerzen in Alto-Adige and the luganeghe from Trentino. The Ciuiga del Banale, a “Slow Food” offering, is a sausage smoked with juniper wood and stuffed with white turnips. The various types of frankfurters produced in the province of Bolzano are excellent, above all the Meraner, made with pork, beef and spices. In the southern part of the region it is customary to store beef or pork in salt and spices: the famous carne salà, excellent grilled or eaten like carpaccio.
The cheeses produced excel in variety and quality, such as graukaese, “Slow Food” style, produced with the left-overs of butter processing without the addition of rennet and the puzzone di Moena, characterized by its pungent smell and intense flavor.
Alto-Adigean bread excels in wholegrain qualities. Rye, buckwheat, spelt, wheat, millet, sorghum, corn and barley are used for the many traditional varieties. In Trentino they are less imaginative, but they make some specialties like the cornbread of Valsugana and the pane di molche of Alto Garda, made with the extras from extra virgin olive oil production
The desserts are fried like strauben, krapfen and fritelle di mele (apple fritters), or cakes like zelten or strudel made with the excellent local apples.
Trentino wine and beer
There is superb wine production, concentrated mainly along the course of the Adige River. The northernmost vineyards produce among the best whites in the world, such as Gewurztraminer, Lagrein and Sankt Magdalener, while Trentino excels for Teroldego Rotaliano, Marzemino, Enantio and Nosiola. Sparkling wine is increasingly appreciated, the Trento DOC label indicates both the classic Trentino method and the excellence of the product. The sweet wines are the muscato rosa produced along the wine route in the Bassa Atesina and the vino santo produced with the Nosiola grapes in the Valle dei Laghi. With the scraps of wine production, the excellent grappa is distilled, protected by a quality consortium. Also noteworthy is the production of beer, the most popular is certainly the Forst of Merano. In recent years, however, numerous small craft breweries have sprung up that are establishing themselves on the national scene.