Trentino is a land rich in history where art is a household word

The discovery of some prehistoric sites shows Trentino was inhabited during the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, probably by hunters who circa 9 thousand years ago camped seasonally on the shores of lakes at a fairly altitude. Thousands of years later, circa 40 B.C., we find the first traces of Romans in the Valle dell'Adige. Their presence and the war waged against the Rhaetian populations, under the domination of Emperor Augustus, is evidence of the valley's strategic position between the north and south of Europe.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Trentino was dominated for centuries, first by the Ostrogoths, then the Longobards and the Franks until, at the end of the Carolingian Empire, it became a southern province of Germany. Then, in the early Middle Ages, the government and security of these lands, that formed a vital through road, was assigned to the Prince Bishops (51 succeeded each other until the end of 1800) made feudatories of the Holy Roman Empire.

For one century, from 1816 to 1918, Trentino was annexed to the Tyrol, a province of Austria. Then the separatist movement, ignited by national and irredentist associations, grew stronger. After the First World War, during which the front line cut Trentino off from Austria, Italy's northern frontier on the Alps was redrawn. Then, in 1927, the borders of the Trentino Alto Adige Region and the two Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano were established.

The historic agreement between De Gasperi and Gruber (the Austrian Foreign Minister) signed on 5 September 1946, was the foundation for the Autonomous Statute of 1972 with which Trentino became an Autonomous Province.

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) was a milestone in the history of the Catholic Church and made the name of Trento universally famous. The holy assembly was prepared by the enlightened cardinal, Bernardo Cles, who was responsible for the great cultural and artistic renaissance of the town. He died just before the beginning of the Council and was succeeded by Cristoforo Madruzzo, another ardinal and meritorious inheritor of all this spiritual and cultural wealth.

Castles and fortifications dating from different times are the main identifying features of a border land as Trentino was over the centuries. Most of them of medieval origin fell into ruin as centuries went by but some of them, the most important from an historical and artistic point of view, have been restored with direct intervention from the Autonomous Province of Trento.

castel BesenoThe symbol and evidence of this great restoration project of the historical and artistic heritage of Trentino is Castel Beseno which can be seen by those travelling on the Brenner motorway between Rovereto and Trento, a true fortification guarding the Valle dell'Adige. Other beautiful castles are Castel Stenico, Castel Thun, Castello d'Arco, Castel Toblino, Castel Nanno. Today one can visit about hundred castles.

Thanks also to the high standard cultural Festival "If in Trentino in Summer a Castle", featuring performances and period reconstructions, Trentino has linked its image to the castles. A Festival which responds to the increasing demand of the visitor's knowledge and culture.

One can see this by visiting the Museum of Uses and Customs of the Trentino people located at San Michele all'Adige, that of the Val di Sole Civilisation or that of the Ladins, a population which has lived in the Dolomites, at Vigo di Fassa, for two thousand years.

In the centre of the town, the Museum of Natural Sciences displays numerous naturalistic collections, while the house where the futurist painter Depero lived and in which a great number of his works are exhibited, is open to the public in Rovereto.

Buon Consiglio castleLinked to the very old origins and religious traditions of Trentino are the crypt in the cathedral and Palazzo Pretorio in the historic centre of Trento and, in the valleys, numerous sanctuaries, the most famous of which is that of San Romedio near Sanzeno, in Valle di Non.

In the sixteenth century it became imperative for the State and the Church to stem the tide of Lutheranism sweeping through Europe from 1517 onwards. Trento was the place chosen for an Ecumenical Council because of its strategic position in the heart of Europe. The assembly was convened in November 1544. The official opening was held on 13 December 1545 and the Council was closed on 14 December 1563 after twenty years of negotiations and various interruptions in the work.

During the Council two lines of thought emerged: one intent on introducing moral and disciplinary reforms within the corrupt Church, the other aimed exclusively at condemning the new doctrines of Martin Luther. The Trento Assembly managed to reach a compromise between the supporters of the two positions and, having rejected the theory of justification for faith, confirmed the need of good works for eternal salvation.

The decrees included the reorganization and moralization of the ecclesiastical body, sanctioned the duties of the bishops and solemnly reconfirmed the Pope's indisputable and absolute authority.

Since 1989 the Trentino Tourist Board has planned and organised a long programme of encounters with art, history, tradition and entertainment in the most important castles in Trentino, enchanting sites and reminders of profound memories.

Castel Toblino Four appointments of European importance highlighted the summer 1997: the concert-performances of the London Sinfonietta in homage to the music of Miles Davis and Gil Evans, of Kronos Quartet in homage to Jimy Hendrix and of the German singer and actress Ute Lemper, as well as the exhibition Jewellery of the Alps which from 20th June to 9th November had on exhibit in Buonconsiglio castle in Trento precious jewels from the Alps and dating from prehistory to the late Middle Ages.

The programme was completed with a great number of other initiatives organised by boards, associations and local districts to enhance, using the castles, the centuries of evidence of a land rich in culture and traditions.

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