Situated between the Southern Alps and Venice and dominated by the spectacular Dolomites, the northern Italian province of Trentino boasts an amazing natural environment that will grab your attention and not let it go. The region offers an enticing mix of scintillating scenery, endless outdoors activities, intriguing local culture and wholesome flavours. This is one of those rare places where you can take in a breath of fresh air and develop a natural high and uplifted enthusiasm for life.
View of the Dolomites from Molveno, Trentino © Wilks72 / Getty
Spectacular mountain scenery
A Unesco Natural Heritage site, the truly spectacular Dolomites offer up stabbing sawtooth peaks and vertiginous walls that provide both thrilling scenery and superb sport all year round. Just sightseeing among the unique landscapes and geological features will be more than enough for many, but for others, it is the lure of outdoor activities that bring them to the Dolomites. For outdoor enthusiasts, to hike among the jagged peaks, climb those steep walls, cycle curling mountain roads, mountain-bike on superb off-road trails, alpine ski, cross-country ski, and fish the lakes and rivers is close to being in heaven on earth.
Windsurfers on Lake Garda © Drepicter / Getty
An advantage of spectacular mountain scenery is that along with the mountains come valleys, rivers and lakes – and Trentino is blessed with a stunning array of 297 gorgeous lakes. Best known is Lake Garda, a watersports paradise, much loved by sailors, windsurfers, kite-surfers and kayakers. Lake Ledro is legendary for its crystal-clear waters, while Lake Molveno, beneath the towering Brenta Dolomites, is regularly nominated for ‘Best Lake in Italy’. Or if a secluded alpine lake is more your style, there are plenty from which to choose.
Hiking and cycling
An astounding array of excellent trails, suitable for all levels of hiking and trekking, criss-cross Trentino and the Dolomites, linking green valleys, alpine lakes, appealing mountain huts and remote villages. There are towering peaks to climb for unforgettable views, hut-to-hut trails offering up multi-day challenges and wide, easy trails suitable for family strolls. Alpine Guides of Trentino offer a variety of climbs and tours with a local flavour, both challenging and relatively relaxed, that will bring you face-to-face with the delightful Dolomites.
Trentino is also a cyclist’s dream come true. Its legendary road climbs are regular features on the Giro d’Italia and the biggest names in cycling have raced on these amazing mountain roads. Each are set up with special signage every kilometre indicating degree of difficulty, average gradient, height above sea level and points of interest. Off the roads, there are 400km of easy-riding paved cycle paths, perfect for family fun, and for mountain-bikers, a selection of trails and bike parks catering for everyone from relative novices through to hardcore experts.
Trekking through the Dolomites © Giorgio Raffaelli / Getty
Trentino is the place to be for those who love the white fluffy stuff, whether that be skimming down on endless kilometres of groomed pistes on your alpine skis or making use of the abundance of broad mountain passes and flat-bottomed valleys to cross-country ski in a brilliant pristine environment. Whichever you choose, the jaw-dropping, soaring peaks and cliffs of the Dolomites make an extraordinary backdrop. Facilities are first rate, with options to stay in ski-in ski-out hotels and refresh yourself at mouth-watering mountain restaurants and lodges.
Castles and culture
Trentino’s bustling capital is rooted in arts and history. Further afield are tiny towns in tributary valleys reached by winding roads, and fairy-tale traditional villages perched on steep mountainsides, all just waiting to be explored. The region is also dotted with historic castles and forts, many of which house historical exhibits. Buonconsiglio Castle, the largest, was the residence of the prince-bishops of Trento and is the symbol of the city. Rovereto Castle hosts the Italian Historical War Museum, while visitors yearning to overnight within castle walls can do so at Castel Pergine in Valsugana. On Saturdays in summer, the ‘Castle Route Train’ runs with expert guides from Trento and takes in the castles San Michele, Caldes, Valer and Thun.
Trentino is home to fascinating museums. In Trento, Muse, designed by Renzo Piano, is an impressive science museum that looks at the impact of altitude on ecology, while the Monzoni Museum of Minerals, in Vigo di Fassa, features rocks, crystals and minerals from the Dolomites. In Rovereto, MART is home to one of Italy’s most important collections of modern art, while Castello del Buonconsiglio, in Trento, hosts temporary exhibitions to delight families and children. For something different, the Museum of the Scarecrows in Valsugana celebrates the ingenuity of farmers from all over the province.
A block of cheese native to the Trentino region © Masci91 / Getty
With its spectacular mountains, lakes and valleys, Trentino has a host of microclimates that help produce an incredibly diverse food culture. With each valley having its own signature products, you’ll want to eat local and enjoy unique Trentino cheeses, cured meats and cold cuts, organic vegetables, berries and olive oil, as well as smoked and cured trout and char from the lakes and rivers. The Mediterranean meets the Alps here, so tuck into the gastronomic delights at lakeside cafes, Michelin-starred restaurants and at mountain lodges out on the hiking trails.
Trentino also produces an excellent selection of locally crafted wines and beers. The climate, soil and terrain see the region blessed with three indigenous grape varieties: Nosiola, Marzemino and Teroldego. Trentodoc is a prized sparkling wine from the mountains, while Müller-Thurgau and Chardonnay also thrive here. Fear not if your passion is beer, as there is a growing list of niche breweries mixing traditional brewing methods with Trentino enthusiasm and flair.