Itinerary of Trento in one day, Italy.
Travelling in northern Italy on my own allowed me to see the sights of Trento, see Tyrol castles, beautiful palaces and landscapes, see cathedrals and ancient churches; if you want to know more, read the report on an independent trip through the cities of South Tyrol
In contrast to the quiet, pastoral and patriarchal Rovereto, the next point of my route in the Alpine foothills, the town of Trento, the capital of the province, looked like a developed, industrial city – the local buildings from the train window did not look too nice, and I was also surprised by the large number of immigrants, who usually cluster in large metropolitan areas; In Rome or Milan, for example, they are a dime a dozen, while the smaller towns in Italy have not yet been able to complain about the Negro-Arab population. Trento seemed to me an exception in this regard, although, perhaps, this is a purely subjective perception. At any rate, in the area around the station and in the alleys of the park that occupies Dante Square, people from Maghreb countries came across with excessive regularity.
I didn’t like the station itself either, although everything seemed to be in order there, and the waiting room was clean, and the ticket offices worked, and there were ticket machines, but the entourage was spoiled by the declassified people hanging around the building. In addition I was struck by the lack of elevator or escalator on the platforms: to get out of the tunnel connecting the station and the platforms you can only walk up the stairs, which is not very comfortable with suitcases – in my opinion Trentin people should pay more attention to comfort of the visitors.
If you have to wait for the train in Trento, it’s better to sit on a bench in the park mentioned above, or even to use the facilities of the neighboring bus station. Here’s where it’s comfortable: the air conditioning works at full throttle, the seats are comfortable, there’s a free toilet, there’s a cafe with inexpensive food on the side, and a souvenir store is also available for tourists. In theory, the Trento bus station has a luggage storage, but on the day I looked around the city, it turned out to be closed “for technical reasons”. It is possible that the luggage room is closed for a long time, so you probably can’t leave your things in Trento, although you should keep such a possibility in mind.
Trento’s bus station has intercity bus routes that take people to the smaller towns in the region, and local public transportation lines also converge at this point. The fare within the city limits is 1 euro, and those who want can buy a 24-hour card for 2.60 euro and ride as much as they like. Another thing is that all the most important attractions of Trento are concentrated in the old neighborhoods, whose border runs close to the bus station, you do not even need to go anywhere, you can almost immediately after arrival in the city to start the tour.
But before you start your walk through the city center, you must visit the tourist office at 2 Via Manci. There, all visitors will find a map of Trento with marked sights, useful brochures and other information. In particular, I found a mention of the “Trento Card” among the materials kindly provided by the Tourist Office. As it turned out, the museum-transport card of Trento for 24 hours costs only 10 euros, and allows you to ride free local buses, visit all the city’s museums without a ticket, the card holders will also not have to pay admission to the Botanical Gardens. In addition, there is the “Trento Card” for 48 hours, which costs 15 euros and allows in addition to the benefits already listed to visit the museums of Rovereto, and, as those who have read the beginning of this story remember, the authorities there charge 7 euros for admission. In other words, the Trento card allows you to save a lot of money on sightseeing interesting objects of the region.
From the tourist office Via Belenzani leads directly to the main square, but I would recommend you to see the nearby attractions of Trento, because three of them are very close, and one is just as far away from the tourist office – the church of San Francesco. Its somewhat unusual appearance is due to the desire of the Jesuit customers to portray their role in the fight against the Reformation more vividly. As a consequence, instead of the usual sculptures of the apostles, the building is decorated with figures of Ignatius Loyola and other zealous adherents of the Catholic faith. The project was designed by the architect Andrea Pozzo, the construction work took five years, and at the beginning of the XVIII century, it worked out. The temple was not very large and could have been lost in the environment of the neighboring buildings, but thanks to the skill of the architect it is not lost, but, on the contrary, stands out and is well noticeable.
Another curious building, the church of San Lorenzo, welcomes travelers from the train station to the bus station. It is the last fragment of an ancient monastery, founded in the 13th century and closed about a hundred years ago. It is hard to say why the city authorities were so hostile to the monks’ monastery, but it was not enough just to dissolve their community: at one time there was talk of completely tearing down the historic complex. It was only through the efforts of local Catholics that the church was saved and even found money for its restoration. Nowadays, the church, though deprived of its old interiors, looks more or less good and is an example of Gothic architecture.
The border of the old quarters is marked by another building with centuries of history, the Wang Tower, built in the 13th century by a respected local family. The forty-metre-high colossus, a pillar of the power of the Vanga family, was later incorporated into the established system of defence of Trento, combining, so to speak, both guarding functions: external sentries watched over the surroundings from the observation platforms, inside sentries guarded prisoners as the Torre Vanga was also used as a prison. Interestingly, one of the bishops of Trent had been in its cells and led the people to revolt. Although the prisoner was later freed by the remaining loyalist troops, we must think that the bishop learned his lesson for life from his subjects…
Next to the tower, one block south of it, stands the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, a remarkable building with the tallest bell tower in the city. Surprisingly, it took only five years to erect such an imposing church; the workers probably did their best and didn’t fret because it was commissioned by Bishop Bernardo Cleggio, a highly respected bishop of the city. The high style of the church is indescribable, but every single detail is perfect and the entire ensemble is worthy of nothing but praise.
From the back of Santa Maria Maggiore Via Ca v our leads straight to Piazza Duomo, in the heart of the city. It’s a real realm of beauty, the tone set by two beautiful buildings, Palazzo Cazzuffi and Palazzo Balduini, famous for their murals. At one time, this style created a furore in patriarchal Trento; for locals in the first half of the 16th century, the decorations on the walls of Casa Balduini were a shocking novelty. However, the style soon came into vogue, and Casa Cazuffi, designed about a hundred years after the neighbor, became a model of imitation, refined to the extreme…
The large, multidimensional cathedral of Trento, which closes the southern side of Piazza Duomo, is built strangely: it faces the square from the side. It is clear that it was turned so according to the Christian tradition, but if it was facing the center, the entire composition would look different. The cathedral was first built in the early Middle Ages, commemorating the patron saint of Trento, the former bishop Vigilius – it is believed that the building was erected over his grave. Then the main temple of the city was rebuilt, and in the second quarter of the XII century began an even more fundamental alteration. It dragged on for many decades due to lack of money, and only after two hundred years the work was finished. As there were several architects, the Cathedral of Trento combines Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Renaissance styles.
Besides its architectural value, the church has a historical heritage: in 1545, the Tridentine Council of the Catholic Church, which proclaimed an irreconcilable struggle against the Reformation, was opened under its vaults. For almost twenty years the leading prelates of Catholicism worked out decrees to put an end to the spread of Reformation ideas. The next such “convention” was held only 306 years later…
The Cathedral of Trento used to be accompanied by two churches, but the local bishops decided that the congregation would be much happier to see an imposing palace – their, the spiritual pastors’, residence – instead. It is fair to say that in addition to the bishops, the building also housed representatives of the city government; it must have been convenient for the conspirators to grab all the branches of government at once. But when you think about it, their job would not have been so easy: the Palazzo Pretorio looks more like a fortress than a palace. Adding to its medieval severity is a huge, sullen-looking tower, formerly used as a prison; the bell under its ceiling summoned the townspeople to watch executions and executions…
In time, the bishops moved to another place – when Castle Buonconsiglio was built, it seemed to them a more secure shelter. The castle to the east of the historic nucleus is still to be reached, but for now we must finish with the central quarters. If you don’t fancy the medieval painting collections now housed in the Palazzo Pretorio, it’s time to visit the Church of Santissima Trinità on the street of the same name. When the church was begun in 1525, it was commissioned by the Convent of the Clarisse, whose leadership preferred the refined Renaissance style to the usual Gothic. But for several reasons, the Renaissance facade did not last long, and in 1666, during the reconstruction of the building, it was replaced by a Baroque facade. The history of changes would have ended there, but during the Napoleonic wars, the French troops robbed the monastery and took out all the relics accumulated by the nuns. The townspeople had to restore the interiors of the church literally “from scratch”: something was taken from the city cathedral, something from other churches.
Now we head northeast to reach the tiny Piazzetta dell’ Anfiteatro to see the church of San Pietro e Paolo. It was built between 1465 and 1485, destroying the old Romanesque temple, but I don’t think anyone regretted it, because the new version is just fine. The church looks both modest and damn fine at the same time. Not only does it have a Gothic style, chosen personally by the bishop of Trento in spite of the Renaissance, which has become fashionable, but the white and pink marble on the facade gives the building a special beauty. Even the fire that befell the church in the first quarter of the XVII century did not affect the outstanding appearance of San Pietro – the restoration masked all traces of the disaster and the church looks only better.
This Trento landmark stands on a small square and the next one is simply “built in”: the small Church of Santa Maria, numbered in Via del Suffragio 63, can be easily missed if you do not follow the map. One of the youngest churches in Trento was built in modern times, and the work lasted from 1727 to 1729. When the church opened its doors, perhaps few of the parishioners rejoiced exuberantly, because the building was quite modest, and it seemed to me personally that the building “shaved”, depriving many necessary decorative elements: like the columns are present, and capitals, and the window in the form of a rosette, but the view as a whole is unattractive …
Finally, in Via San Marco, almost near the bishop’s castle, stands the Church of San Marco. In the Middle Ages, when it was built, it was intended to be a large monastery – at the time, no one could imagine that one day the monks would be expelled from the city, as they were, however, many years later. Only the temple survived the monastic abbey, and, not otherwise, it was saved by its extraordinary appearance: the reconstruction of the XVII century gave San Marco the features of the mature Renaissance. It is thought that if the building had been standing elsewhere, rather than on a rather narrow street, it would have become a popular site, but we cannot fully appreciate the beauty of the church because of the houses next to it, which have been squeezed in.
When I found a castle among the sights of Trento, I wasn’t too worried; there are a lot of fortifications in the Alps; there are several in the area. The more I was surprised when, after a walk through the peaceful and quiet town, I suddenly came to the enormous walls of the harshest kind. Immediately I found out that Buonconsiglio Castle is the most important landmark in Trento and, in addition, the largest citadel in the entire region!
The construction of the bishop’s castle began in 1250 and lasted a good two hundred years. At first the fortification was intended for purely military purposes, then the territory in the ring of walls was taken over by the local lords, who turned Buonconsiglio into their government residence. The result of metamorphosis was the appearance of a spacious Renaissance-style palace in the 16th century. Today, Trento Castle looks extremely picturesque, and no connoisseur of architecture can miss it…
As usual, after the affairs of the high things to move to the mundane: the sights, of course, good, but they will not be satiated, eat and drink on the journey should be. And, it should be noted, the question of where to eat in Trento cheap is another matter. I didn’t come across any inexpensive places, although I often found ice cream parlors. In one, under the unpretentious name of “La Gelateria”, I partook of the delicacy, paying a euro for each ball of deliciousness. I was lucky with the quality of the product and with the free bench: as soon as I went out the door back to Via Belenzani, a couple who had finished their meal got up and went to look at the Cathedral of Trento. Accordingly, I was able to sit comfortably and enjoy an ice cream. I didn’t know that just a block away, right on Piazza del Duomo there’s a cafe called “Grom” – that’s where you should buy ice cream! The thing is that the place has tables protected from the sun by a canvas awning, and so it’s very pleasant to sit, even without taking into account the beautiful views. Prices, however, are high, but the opportunity to look at the sights of Trento with eating cold balls is worth the small overpayment.
The food shopping was not bad either: while in the center of Rome and Milan you can hardly find supermarkets, the historical districts of the capital of Trentino delighted me with two places at once. In Via Torre Verde 26 you can find “Conad” with very low prices for sausages and cheeses, at no. 2 in Via delle Orfane you can taste the Poli delicatessen. I also remember Valentini next to the church of San Marco – which could justly be renamed ‘The Madman’s Dream’, because knives, cleavers and machetes of terrible appearance make up the lion’s share of the offer, with Swiss penknives huddled languishing in the corners of the windows. I was most impressed by a forearm-length machine with a saw on the top edge…
Evening was approaching, and I didn’t feel like walking around the city in the dark, where people were buying such things. So I hurried to the train station in order to get to Bolzano as soon as possible.
The itinerary is built – 11. Trento
Seeing this in Italy is about as “bees vs. honey”:
But it is true: this plaque was found in the city of Trento. We went there intending to see “the most beautiful square in Northern Italy” – according to Thomas Cook’s guidebook (yes, there was a time when guidebooks were the main sources of tourist information). With the square was not so unambiguous, but the castle in Trento was a real discovery.
Of the two options to get from Garda to Trento (about 80 kilometers), we chose the free – but scenic option, because we kind of had time. At the same time we admired the panorama of the lake: On the way I was surprised by the possibilities of the panoramic door: castles I met on the way… …I could take photos while driving: A small part of the way went through vineyards: In general, drive through, don’t be lazy – take photos of the pictures:
As sometimes happens in travel, the high spirits of the surrounding beauties can be spoiled by the imperfection of tourist services. So we, too, when we got to Trento, out of our habit decided to leave the car not far from the center and preferably – in a covered parking lot, because we had a lot of personal items in the trunk and also bags with souvenir oil and alcohol. Surprisingly, but following all the city signs in the form of the letter P – and the top cap, we found a tightly closed and even, I would say, abandoned underground parking lots. Did a kind of lap of honor throughout the historic center, could not get a parking lot at the castle – there was no room, and part of the parking with free spaces was with some complicated payment system for the locals. So we had to leave the car in one of the quiet streets not far from the castle with obvious anxiety, and even the traditional Sunday freebies did not relieve a vague sense of impropriety. Fortunately, the anxiety refused to be unfounded. To remember the location of the street where we left the car was easy – on the way back it was necessary to turn off from Via Torre Verde in front of a remarkable building: By the way, in a street really buried in verdure is another eye-catching structure:
In just five minutes, we’re in front of the powerful and majestic Castello del Buonconsiglio: It looks a bit like the animal from “Funny Pictures”: with the tail of a tiger, the neck of a giraffe, the torso of a lion. It’s clear at once: it was built and rebuilt more than once, adapting it to the needs of the prince-bishops of Trento. Remembering several castles that were not visited in the last three or four days (Sirmione, Mantua, Malcesine), we certainly decide to get at least here – and it becomes the right decision in Trento. Since the excursion to the castle with the difficult name Buonconsiglio was for me the most important cultural event of the trip, we should pay more attention to the exposition of its museum.
Admission. The entrance fee is 10 euros per person, another 2 euros is a separate ticket to enter the Eagle Tower (TORRE AQUILA) with the “Seasons” frescoes. We take both. Let’s look around: I want to note especially Venetian box – from it later we will see the crazy view of the city: We have half an hour before the start of the show in the Eagle Tower, and according to this diagram we estimate where we are. It turns out that a part of exposition can be seen on the way to the farthest from the entrance to the castle – actually, the Eagle Tower (on the picture is the extreme right): An interactive layout of the castle on the museum’s website To start, you have to get hyped up, get into the taste of looking and looking at the museum’s display cases. The first floor – “small forms”, relics from Ancient Rome and Early Middle Ages: Slowly the excitement sets in, exhibit after exhibit becomes more and more interesting, such as these Roman bas-relief tablets: Among the showcases with hairpins, the most interesting are the animalistic ones: Some pieces are begging to be added to the “Suffering Middle Ages” club – there such owls are adored (excuse the quality of the photo – without flash, in a semi-dark room, and even at this zoom…): Venetian lions of different models are scattered all over the exposition. The image of lion in Christianity is very ambiguous, in medieval art it had many interpretations: “Jesus was likened to a lion, because this animal supposedly covers its tracks with its tail (so did the Son of God hide his divine nature from the devil) and sleeps with his eyes open (like the Savior, who on the cross died as a man, but as God could not die Lion cubs are born dead and come alive after three days, when the lioness growls at them (just as Christ on the third day rose from the dead). At the same time, of course, the lion was one of the main symbols of Satan, the insatiable predator who seeks to ‘devour’ souls. The museum displays, of course, only the “right” lions. The layout, as any self-respecting castle should, is confusing – but not really. Just in case, in order not to be late to the Eagle Tower, we decide to come five minutes before the show. Especially as we are to pass through a cozy courtyard – The Lion Court, but by the name of the sculptures installed there: From it we exit to another courtyard, to the fortress wall, but we will not go there: it is Martyrs Court – the graves of Italian patriots shot by Austrians during World War I are here. For some reason I was immediately reminded of the novel (and movie) “The Gadfly” with the fearless revolutionary commander of his own execution. Sessions to TORRE AQUILA (or simply – to the Eagle Tower) are organized every 45 minutes. The group of no more than 25 people goes to the tower with a guide through a long and narrow passage (which neither of us two took a picture of for some reason). The duration of the session to view the paintings on the walls inside the tower is 15 minutes, and you can also leave the room accompanied by a guide. Each visitor is given an audio guide, which for 15 minutes in Italian, English or German (there is no information in Russian anywhere in the castle) will announce that the unique frescoes were painted in the 15th century by an unknown master from Bohemia. He depicted the change of seasons with the utmost precision, telling in 12 frescoes about the typical activities of the inhabitants of Trento during the 12 months of the year.
You can take pictures inside: Frankly speaking, this part of the exposition did not impress me much, perhaps some of the organization of the process played against it. And in general, in the Big Palace – part of the castle built in the Renaissance period – the paintings of the walls and especially the ceilings are no less impressive: And the masterfully made coffered ceilings in this part of the castle bring to mind high examples of this type of art (for example, in Venice): By the way, the gathering place of the groups, the Loggia Romanino (named after a 16th century artist), is also a gem of the castle: I made its photo the title picture in this story about Trento. Although it may well compete with the courtyard of the castle and the Venetian Lodge – perhaps the most breathtaking pictures of architecture on this trip: After liberation from being tied to a specific start time of the session, we were able to wander the intricate halls of the castle in peace. Especially since there was plenty to see. Huge Round Hall of Mirrors: Our weakness is the tiles: “Selfies”: In winter we admired a mechanical cancer in Dresden – in the fall in Trento found its distant relative: Unexpectedly – zar Paolo di Russia: In the treasury of the castle Buonconsiglio – a stunning collection of medieval wooden sculpture. Some of the saints can be easily recognized by a special iconographic attribute. Often it was the instrument of execution (the sword of St. Paul, the wheel of St. Catherine, the red-hot lattice of St. Lawrence), but sometimes the organ that was taken away during torture and execution became the saint’s distinctive attribute. The most striking example is St. Dionysius, the first bishop of Paris, who is depicted with his own head in his hands. St. Agatha is distinguished by another attribute, which I don’t even want to mention. The next picture, on the other hand, appears to be of St. Lucius. St. Lucius of Syracuse, according to one version, had her eyes poked out during her execution by an executioner, and according to another, she plucked her own eyes out to avoid the pagan. According to medieval iconographic tradition, from the 14th century onwards she was depicted with two pairs of eyes: one of these the saint held in a dish. What is interesting: the name Lucia is derived from the Latin lux, lucis, “light”, but it is Lucia who is the patroness of the blind. Saint Lucia is the patroness of Syracuse and of southern Italy as a whole. The most eloquent testimony is the world-famous song: Venite all’agile, barchetta mia, Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.
Which means: Swim faster, my little boat, Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!
Among the many Madonnas… …the main masterpiece in the castle’s collection is the Madonna in Blue, which has been on display since last summer after an extensive restoration. She is very different from the image of the Virgin Mary we are accustomed to: a confident stance, straight posture – in her appearance you can read the power, strength, confidence. But there are also more refined Renaissance images: Unfortunately, the damaged image does not allow us to say exactly what the Virgin Mary is doing in the scene of the Annunciation, but it seems that she is holding a book. This is also quite an interesting detail: in the paintings of the Annunciation up to the 13th century Our Lady was spinning, i.e. doing typical female things, but in the subsequent tradition of iconography two types of images were established – the Virgin Mary praying or reading. This was a peculiar breakthrough, for up to that time the book in her hands had been an exclusively male attribute. This idea can be formulated as an assertion that piety requires literacy. Surprisingly, the Middle Ages are unusually popular today; even a term has appeared–the “Medieval Boom. A medieval scholar is now not a mossy old man dealing with the uninteresting questions of a bygone era, but is often a very fashionable and “advanced” person. Popular educational portals have materials about the Middle Ages in the top of the most demanded and interesting to the reader. Books on medieval studies come out and (not only that!) are sold out (I honestly used some excerpts from them in this part of my report on my trip to Trento). If previously the words “medieval” and “obscurantism” could not exist without each other, the art of the Middle Ages was viewed with the condescension with which an adult treats the “work” of a small child, then gradually medieval art works began to win their place in the space between the high antique examples – and the Renaissance masterpieces. The Middle Ages are gradually being rehabilitated: more and more often one reads that not so many witches were burned, and that everything was not as gloomy as the sixth grade history textbook says. The surge of interest in the era is evidenced by the success of films and television series with a medieval setting. And the miniatures of this era are often simply masterpieces: and if it is difficult to understand on the spot, then the subsequent examination and search for information in different sources can be interesting. For example, as in the leftmost drawing, the image of God in an ellipse-shaped glow. More precisely, almond-shaped – it is called “mandorla” (from the Italian for almond). This image is not accidental: the almond is an ancient symbol of the concealment of valuable content in a very hard shell. And in general, this symbol has so many meanings – we need a separate article.
We could still wander around the castle, but the attractive view of the city from the height of the castle walls directly beckoned:
The color of the city buildings had a surprisingly noble hue: the roofs, the walls, all covered with the patina of time. On closer inspection, the traces of time in the streets were quite evident: in Bolzano, not far from Trento, which after World War I went from being Austrian to Italian, one cannot help but think that we are in Austria, but in the streets of Trento this would not even occur to us. This is Italy as you can imagine it: September 30th is on the calendar: five years ago we were terribly disappointed in Thomas Cook’s guide to Northern Italy, we stopped believing it and didn’t even check if the main square in Trento is “the most beautiful in Northern Italy”. Our present intention to find out was crushed by an unexpected obstacle in the form of a construction fence around the entire perimeter of Piazza Duomo: On both sides the square is formed by two grandiose buildings: the Palazzo Pretorio with a high tower… …and the cathedral of Saint Vigilius, the patron of the city: The western façade of the cruciform church is reserved and extremely concise, with an openwork rose window being almost its only decoration. Among the inhabitants of Trento, the romantic name of this window, “the wheel of fortune”, was common: But the east façade with the altar part is much more interesting and remarkable: My particular delight was these intricately “tied” looped columns: And even so: Inside, photography is prohibited, but I did not want to leave without a few smuggled pictures: Here you can admire not quite normal twisted columns – they are called “solomon columns”. Such columns, according to legend, adorned the palace of King Solomon of the Old Testament. Further in the use of this kind of architectural element is a solid gap, the bulk of the twisted columns in Europe is a legacy of the Baroque era.
The Council of Trident was held in the Cathedral of St. Vigilius. Indeed. Let me explain – I only recently learned about it myself. The Middle Ages, contrary to popular opinion, up to the middle of the 16th century were quite tolerant of the creative search of church artists and sculptors, giving them a fairly wide field for the visual interpretation of the verbal biblical images. Moreover, in the margins of church books (outside the main text and illustrations) there were pictures that could be safely classified as obscene images – that is, anything related to the theme of the bodily bottom. Such pictures were called “marginalia. When Europe was caught in the flames of the Reformation, with its iconoclasm, “questionable” interpretations of images became a reasonable excuse for Protestants (and especially Calvinists) to ridicule the creations of the masters and refuse to venerate icons and religious statues. The Catholic Church then decided that it should itself “cleanse” church art of this kind of “compromise” – that is, in fact, introduce censorship. In order to decide what should be depicted and how, in 1545 the Council of Trent was assembled – which took place in the Cathedral of St. Vigilius in Trento. Of course, the topic of intra-church censorship was by no means the only one – for 18 years the church fathers debated various dogmas, during which time the pope changed three times. In 1564 a bull was signed by Pope Pius IV, which reflected the main decrees of the Council of Trent. After the beginning of the Counter-Reformation, proclaimed in Trento, the amazing images of the Holy Trinity – as a person with three faces – disappeared from canonical iconography. Gone were the folding altars in the form of the Virgin Mary – when the flaps, made in the form of a cloak, also revealed the image of the Trinity. All these medieval artifacts are quite rare today, for what we love to wander through museums – I do not recall such rarities.