Castles of Trentino

Castle of Cles
Castle of Cles

Trentino: a land of mountains, of extraordinary views, of forests, of waterfalls and meadows. And a land of castles: where there reigns a distinctive atmosphere which you discern as soon as you go through the massive entrance of a recently restored manor house, walk through the lists where tournaments were once held and enter frescoed rooms where the shadows might cloak the presence of figures from distant legend; castles whose ruins, encountered unexpectedly on walks through the countryside, radiate mystery, their square stones bringing to life the shouts of soldiers who once guarded the walls, the loud cries of the grooms in the stables and the soft voices of the knights keeping a vigil in the castle chapel.

This page proposes to take you on a tour of the history of Trentino, with six different itineraries:

Palazzo delle Miniere Castle
Palazzo delle Miniere

First itinerary:
the Val di Fiemme, the Val di Fassa, Primiero

The first itinerary concerns a part of Trentino that is somewhat poor in castles but extremely rich in history. The reason for this paucity lies partly in the strong character of the peoples of this area and partly in the power of the Prince Bishops of the Principality and Bishopric of Trento. Val di Fiemme, situated on the north-east part of the Trentino region, extends over 35 km. At the north east it leads into Val di Fassa and at south west into Val di Cembra. The Valley is surrounded by the Lagorai mountain range, the Dolomites Pale di San Martino, the Latemar and the Corno Nero peak.

Not to be missed:

Cavalese: Palazzo della Magnifica Comunita’; Pozza di Fassa: Torre di Pozza; Tonadico: Pietra Castle; Fiera di Primiero: Palazzo delle Miniere

Ivano Castle
Ivano Castle

Second itinerary:
the Valsugana and the Valle di Cembra

The Valsugana, together with the Adige Valley, was one of the main routes to the north. In Roman times the Claudia Augusta Altinate road was built along a route dating back to prehistoric times which connected the Adriatic sea to the river Danube. Thus garrison towers and observation points dotted the valley, over the centuries being turned by the increasingly wealthy and powerful nobility into castles (all standing on the sunny side of the valley). Many are now reduced to ruins (San Pietro Castle, Castello di Castellalto, etc.), but the line of communications that linked them all into a defence system can still be discerned.

Not to be missed in Valsugana and Valle di Cembra:


Ivano Fracena:
Ivano Castle; Telve Valsugana: Castellalto; Borgo Valsugana: Castel Telvana; Levico: Castel Selva; Pergine Valsugana: Castello; Civezzano: Castel Telvana; Fornace: Castello Roccabruna; Segonzano: Castello

Castello del Buonconsiglio Trento
Castello del Buonconsiglio

Third itinerary:
the Adige Valley and the Val Lagarina

The Adige Valley has always been a busy route in Trentino, linking the north to the south, and used by the barbarians, by various armies and by the Holy Roman Emperors on their way to receive their Papal investiture in Rome. This valley has the largest number of castles, with the fortified walls of Trento showing the standards of excellence achieved. Around the year 1000 castles began to take on an aura of romance in which they were seen as symbols of absolute power and the landscape began to change as castles-cum-villages were built.

Not to be missed in the Adige Valley and Val Lagarina:

Mezzocorona: S. Gottardo Castle, Firmian Castle; S. Michele all’Adige: Monreale Castle; Trento: Castello del Buonconsiglio, Torre dell’Aquila, Torre del Falco, Palazzo Pretorio, Castelletto dei Vescovi, Torre Civica, Torre della Tromba, Torre Verde, Torre Vanga, Palazzo delle Albere; Povo-Villazzano: Torre dei Gionghi; Besenello: Beseno Castel; Calliano: Pietra Castle; Noarna: Noarna Castle; Rovereto: Castello, Dante Castle; Mori: Albano Castle; Loppio: Palazzo Castelbarco; Avio: Castello di Sabbionara

Riva del Garda Rocca
Riva del Garda: Rocca

Fourth itinerary:
the Upper Garda area and the Valle dei Laghi

The Valle dei Laghi and the Upper Garda area were among the first valleys in Trentino to be inhabited, mainly as a result of their mild climate and the gentle contours of the landscape. Prehistoric sites and Roman roads and villages paved the way for community refrges, and three of the five fortified towns in Trentino – Arco, Riva del Garda and Tenno – are found in this area.

Not to be missed:

Riva del Garda: Rocca; Tenno: Castello; Arco: Castello; Drena: Castello; Madruzzo: Castello; Sarche: Toblino Castle

Campo Castle
Campo Castle

Fifth itinerary:
the Valle del Chiese and the Valli Giudicarie

The Valle del Chiese, on the border with the province of Brescia and somewhat out of the reach of the Bishopric of Trento, for this reason is of historical significance. Going towards the north-east you come to the Inner and Outer Giudicarie Valleys, a trade route in prehistoric times and inha bited from the time of the Romans, as attested by documents and archaeological finds. This is also the valley where the relationship between the “pievi” (from the Latin “plebs” or site of the church), the community and their respective territories is most discernible. Finally, it is also worth mentioning that the whole of the Giudicarie valleys are dotted with numerous castles, forts, keeps and towers of which a few ruins remain or which are mentioned in historical documents or in local legend.

Not to be missed in the Valle del Chiese and Valli Giudicarie:

Bondone di Storo: San Giovanni Castle; Lodrone: Santa Barbara Castle; Pieve di Bono: Romano Castle Campo Lomaso: Campo Castle; Vigo Lomaso: Spine Castle; Stenico: Castle

Valor Castle
Valor Castle

Sixth itinerary:
the Valle di Sole and the Valle di Non

The Valle di Non and the Valle di Sole, although the second is the natural extension of the first, differ considerably in their history and economy. The Valle di Non has always been the most populated and wealthiest valley in Trentino. Lying on the route between Lombardy and the South Tyrol, its people were quickly granted citizenship by the Romans.

The fortified manor houses of the nobles are quite distinctive – rural residences crowned with towers although lightened by Renaissance touches. In the upper Val di Non, on the other hand, it is more northern tastes that stand out, with the Gothic style being apparent in both the structure and the decorations. On the whole the Val di Non boasts the most elegant and important castles in Trentino but many are privately owned and therefore not open to visitors.

Not to be missed:

Ossana: San Michele Castle; Caldos: Castle; Brosimo: Altaguardia Castle; Cles: Castle; Malgolo: Castello; Coredo: Palazzo Nero; Taio: Braghor Castle; Vigo di Ton: Thun Castle; Spormaggiore: Belfort Castle; Nanno: Castle; Tassullo: Valor Castle

Polenta with cheese
Polenta with cheese

Food and Wine

A simple cuisine, with Austrian, German and Venetian influences. Some dishes have become renowned, for example the tonco del pontesel, orzetto alla trentina, carne salada, strangolapreti or green gnocchi, tortel de patate, oven roasted pork shin. But in particular there are some typical and genuine products, such as the small fruits of the forest, the chestnuts of Roncegno, the Vezzena cheese and the ricotta cheese made in the alpine dairy farms.

The Trentino is truly devoted to the growing of grapes and the making of wines, for both activities have been practiced in the area for about 3,000 years.

The varieties of Trentino wines are classical sparkling wines, dry and fruity white wines, rosès, aged, bodied and medium bodied reds and finally desert wines and grappas.

Courtesy and © of ENIT USA