Trentino’s capital, Trento, has a wealth of history, which is reflected in its fine architecture. At the heart of town is Piazza del Duomo, with its baroque fountain devoted to Neptune, the mythological god of the sea. This mountainous city may be a long way from the coast, but the fountain alludes to the Roman name for the town, Tridentum. Extensive remains of the ancient settlement can still be seen today.
Even before the Romans showed up around 500 BC, Celts had inhabited the area for about 2000 years. After the Romans came the Goths, then the Lombards. The town was eventually annexed by the Holy Roman Empire and became an Episcopal principality, frequently clashing with Tyrolean rulers to the north. The bishop-princes’ residence was the immense Castello del Buonconsiglio.
At the urging of local bishop-prince Bernardo Clesio (1484–1539), it was here in Trento (or Trent, its historical anglicised name) that the basis was formed for the Counter-Reformation. The city’s Romanesque cathedral was the meeting point for the Council of Trent (1545–63), which oversaw the restructuring of the Catholic Church to stem the tide of Protestantism, with far-reaching implications regarding the separation of Church and State.
Strolling around the city’s streets, monuments and museums gives you a palpable sense of the history that unfolded here. Walking tours, led by guides who really know their stuff, are a great way to gain a deeper insight.
There’s more to Trento than just its pivotal history. This fresh, relaxed city has a lively centre and is the perfect jumping-off point for a host of activities in the nearby ski fields and the Parco Naturale Adamello-Brenta.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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