Ah, Trentino. If you would have asked me a year ago where Trentino is, I would have stared at you blankly. However, if you asked me the same question now my eyes would light up and I would excitedly tell you about this gem nestled between the Dolomites and north shores of Lake Garda. Whilst many people have heard of Lake Garda fewer visitors seem to make their way to this north east Italian province and frankly, that’s a shame.
In this Trentino weekend guide, I’m going to cover 2 cities. The first one is Trento, the capital of the province and a city that’s seen a lot more coverage in the last year or so. The second is Rovereto; a smaller city that felt like a true hidden gem. Whilst I personally spent longer than 24 hours in these cities, I’ve distilled my highlights so you can get a flavour of both places. If you prefer, you could of course extend your trip or choose to focus on one city for your weekend in Trentino.
Where To Stay in Rovereto
I chose to base myself in Rovereto rather than the more popular Trento. There were a few reasons behind this decision; Rovereto was conveniently located for a day trip to Lake Garda, I wanted a more chilled out home base and it was cheaper than Trento at the time of booking.
I booked my accommodation Beb Casa Bettini through Visit Trentino’s website to unlock the Trentino Guest Card (more on that in the next section). BeB Casa Bettini is a family run B&B with just two rooms (you can check out Beb Casa Bettini on booking.com here). The host family is lovely and live next door – so you get privacy but also have help nearby if you need it. Breakfast is included with your stay and both rooms come with an ensuite. I stayed here for 4 nights and really appreciated the quiet location in an old part of Rovereto.
If you’d rather stay in Trento, there are several highly rated properties on booking.com. Check them out here.
Trentino Guest Card
As mentioned above I stayed at BeB Casa Bettini to unlock the Trentino Guest Card. Essentially, the Trentino Guest Card is a tourist pass which gives you free travel through Trentino and also free or discounted entry to numerous attractions. If you book a stay with one of their affiliated accommodations for a minimum of 2 nights you get the guest card for free.
It’s worth comparing costs of accommodation vs what you will save on transport and entry. BeB Casa Bettini was definitely competitively priced on the Trentino Guest Card site so made it worthwhile booking through their site. Just note that I had to do an international bank transfer for my room deposit though. You can check out the affiliated accommodations here.
If you decide to get the guest card just make sure you don’t repeat my mistake on public transport. You need to download the OpenMove app and connect it to your guest card. Then make sure you purchase your tickets before boarding the train/bus etc. When entering the mode of transport / train station, look out for the below QR code and use it to validate the ticket on your phone. If the ticket isn’t valid you could be fined.
For entries, keep in mind that most places only accept one entrance per attraction per guest card. So if you visit a museum for free one day, you can’t return the next day and use the same guest card for free entry. That said, I found the guest card worthwhile as it enabled me to visit more sights. It also made me more prone to visit attractions I wasn’t sure about since I didn’t have to pay for entry.
Travel to Rovereto and Trento
Rovereto and Trento don’t have their own airports, however, you can fly into several major Italian cities and travel onwards to Trentino. Verona is the closest option, where you can continue by train or Flixbus if you travel into the city centre first. I’ve got mixed opinions about Flixbus after using them in Italy; they’re really cheap but my reserved seat didn’t actually exist and the bus in Rovereto left from a different location to the one on the map. So they can be used, but be wary.
If Verona isn’t an option you can fly into the Milan – Bergamo airport (this is what I did) and either take Flixbus to Rovereto or a combination of bus to Verona followed by train to Rovereto. You can buy train tickets from Verona to Rovereto at the train station and I used thetrainline.com for train times. I tried both methods and found the bus more convenient. Another option is to fly into Venice and then travel onwards.
Weekend in Trentino
Day 1 – What To Do in Rovereto
Rovereto was exactly how I imagined a small Italian town: beautiful architecture, narrow streets and surrounded by rolling hills (well…mountains in this case). The town only has a population of 40,000 and everything is within walking distance. I stayed in Rovereto for 4 nights with a couple of day trips and did more than you could fit into one day. I’ll cover a longer itinerary in a separate post but below were some of my favourites.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 18.00 with exception of Friday 10.00 – 21.00. Mondays closed
Address: Corso Angelo Bettini, 43, 38068 Rovereto
Entrance: 11 euros for adults or free with Trentino Guest Card
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto is Rovereto’s flagship attraction. Spanning two floors the exhibitions explore the development of modern art through artists such as Luigi Bonazza, Francesco Hayez and Lucio Fontana. However, there’s more to MART than simply the exhibitions. The architecture of the building is stunning and I really like how they’ve arranged and displayed the artwork. It’s pretty hard to miss, but don’t forget to look up when you enter the courtyard of the museum entrance. The “roof” is stunning (and I’d bet one of the most photographed things in Rovereto).
Lunch in Rovereto – El Raminel Ristorante Pizzeria
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday and Sunday 10.00 – 14.30 and 18.00 – 23.00. Saturday 11.00 – 14.30 and 18.00 – 23.00. Closed Mondays.
Address: Corso Bettini, 15/A, 38068 Rovereto
You can’t really visit Italy and not eat pizza. El Raminel was a slightly more upmarket establishment that I visited twice because it was so tasty. I can’t remember the name of my first pizza but it came with courgette and pancetta and was incredible. They didn’t have an English menu when I went but the staff are super friendly and will help you out.
Rovereto Castle and Italian War History Museum
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 18.00, Mondays closed. During July, August and September the museum closes at 19.00 on the weekend.
Address: Via Guglielmo Castelbarco, 7, 38068 Rovereto
Entrance: 7.50 euros or free with Trentino Guest Card
Rovereto Castle started its days as a medieval stronghold with the first foundations being built in the 14th century. It then flourished under Venetian rule until their defeat in 1509. After this the castle fell into neglect and was also heavily damaged during the First World War. However, restoration work brought the castle back to life after the war and since 1921 it has housed the Italian War Museum.
The museum primarily covers Italian war history from the 19th century through to the First World War, with an emphasis on equipment and clothing. There is a lot to see in this museum, but do note that most signs are in Italian. Personally, I thought the section on modern warfare clothing left the strongest impression as they showcased bloodstained uniforms and helmets with bullet holes. All in all, a very somber experience.
Whilst you walk around the exhibitions you also see a lot of the castle. Make sure you don’t miss the views of Rovereto from the roof!
Walk Around Rovereto
Finish your sightseeing with a walk around town to build up your appetite before dinner. Rovereto’s old town is beautiful and a couple of highlights along the way are:
- Views from the Forbato Bridge.
- Palazzo Todeschi – where Mozart (I’m sure you’ve heard of the guy) held his first concert in Italy.
- Palazzo del Bene – this was one of the first places I saw in Rovereto and the architecture / artwork blew my mind.
- Torre Civica – civic tower nestled among narrow streets.
- St Mark’s Church – I regret not going inside this church but its pink exterior is equally as stunning.
- Porta San Marco – gate right next to St Mark’s Church.
Dinner in Rovereto – Il Doge
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 12.00 – 14.00 and 19.00 – 22.00
Address: Scala del Redentore, 4, 38068 Rovereto TN
My favourite meal of the entire trip through north east Italy was at Il Doge in Rovereto. Start by finding the place; several street signs point you to this gem inside a stone wall halfway up a staircase connecting two streets. Once inside, it’s as if you walked into a medieval vault complete with exposed stone walls. Il Doge screams romance (which I couldn’t help but notice as the only solo guest dining that evening).
I had pasta with black truffle which was pure perfection on a plate. I can’t even express how tasty this meal was. To drink I tried a Trentodoc Monfort Rosé (which I would recommend). Trentodoc is a term for sparkling white or rosé wine made in Trentino and a must-try when you visit the province.
After-dinner snack – Gelateria Cherry
Address: Via Roma, 24, 38068 Rovereto TN
What is a trip to Italy without gelato? I took it upon me to sample at least two scoops a day during my trip (research obviously). As a result of my extensive fieldwork I’m happy to confirm that Gelateria Cherry deserved repeat visits.
Day 2 – What To Do in Trento
Trains between Rovereto and Trento only take 12 – 23 minutes depending on train service, perfect for day trips. The train is also free with the Trentino Guest Card (instructions on buying tickets above)!
Trento is the capital of Trentino with a population of roughly 118,000 which makes it more metropolitan than Rovereto. The beauty of splitting your weekend in Trentino between the two is that you get to see the contrast. Whilst I really enjoyed staying in Rovereto, I could also imagine a weekend just exploring Trento.
Piazza del Duomo
Get an early start and head to Piazza del Duomo, one of Trento’s most well-known spots. This square is home to the city’s famous Neptune fountain and surrounded by impressive architecture. During my visit they were working in the square so there was scaffolding aplenty, which means I didn’t get to experience the square properly. I liked the little cafés and bars surrounding the square though and from what I could see the Trento Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Vigilio) was stunning.
Museo S.A.S.S – Tridentum
Opening hours: 1st June – 30th September 9.30 – 13.00 and 14.00 – 18.00. Closed Mondays. 1st October – 31st May 9.00 – 13.00 and 14.00 – 17.30. Closed Mondays.
Address: Piazza Cesare Battisti, 38122 Trento TN
Entrance: 2.50 euros (if memory serves me right). Free with Trentino Guest Card.
Located beneath current day Trento, you’ll find the Roman city Tridentum. Find the museum sign in a corner of the Cesare Battisti square and walk down an unassuming staircase to the underworld. If you’re not specifically looking for this museum you’d never find it!
Tridentum was founded in 46AD and Museo S.A.S.S shows you 1700 sqm of the city’s excavations. You get really up close and personal with the ruins; they even let you walk down a real Roman road! The only slight negative is that whilst it’s fascinating to walk around there is very little English information along the way. However, staff are friendly and I still found it an interesting experience.
Opening hours: 1 May – 1 November 10.00 – 18.00. Closed Mondays. Other times in 2020: 9.30 – 17.00. Closed Mondays. Opening hours vary in December, check the official website for more info.
Address: Via Bernardo Clesio, 5, 38122 Trento TN
Entrance: 10 euros. 30% discount with the Trentino Guest Card. Additional 2 euros for Torre Aquila, where you can find the frescoes Cycle of the Months. I didn’t pay extra for Torre Aquila so can’t comment on whether it’s worth it.
Buonconsiglio Castle is very popular with tourists and for good reason! The castle is a hotpot of ages; from the older 13th century Castelvecchio section through to the 16th century Magno Palazzo and late 17th century Giunta Albertiana sections. What they all have in common is that they housed the prince-bishops of Trento from the 13th to 18th century. Talk about fancy accommodation…
The castle is absolutely massive so expect to spend at least a couple of hours here. Signage isn’t great in English but there’s plenty to keep you entertained anyway. Make sure you don’t miss the Venetian Loggia (I almost did) in Castelvecchio, the numerable frescoed and wood carved ceilings in Magno Palazzo and the prison cells.
Lunch in Trento – Trattoria Piedicastello
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 12.00 – 14.00 and 19.30 – 22.00. Sunday 12.00 – 14.00. Closed Mondays.
Address: Vicolo di Piedicastello, 10, 38122 Trento TN
I arrived in Trento with a recommendation to eat at Ristorante Il Libertino which is in Piedicastello (about 20 minutes walk from Trento city centre). I was pretty excited about this recommendation so made the walk out of the city and across River Adige. Once there, I managed to enter the wrong restaurant and only realised once I’d been shown to my table. However, the stars aligned and I accidentally stumbled upon a quirky gem of my own.
Trattoria Piedicastello is unlike most restaurants I’ve ever dined at. First of all, the interior looks more like a quirky art shop with multiple nooks and crannies. Secondly, they have no printed menu and only a handful of dishes that the waiter will relay to you. Thirdly, there was some sort of buffet going on in the first room (yes, they have multiple rooms) but I never understood how exactly that worked. Anyway, I had some lovely spinach gnocchi in butter. The little green cubes look unappetising but were very tasty, pinky promise.
Afternoon in Trento
After lunch there are a couple of options for your afternoon. The first option is to stay in the Piedicastello area and then head up by cable car to a viewing platform overlooking all of Trento. The second option is to visit the science museum MUSE, one of the most famous attractions in Trentino. Having tried both options, I personally preferred staying in Piedicastello but it would be negligent to leave out one of Trento’s main hotspots!
Option 1 – Piedicastello Galleries
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 9.00 – 18.00. Closed Mondays.
Address: Piazza di Piedicastello, 38122 Trento TN
Up until 2007 the Piedicastello tunnels were used for traffic through the mountains. However, in 2007 they were replaced by newer tunnels and the old tunnels got converted into two galleries: the Black Gallery and the White Gallery. The exhibitions cover the history of life in Trento as well as the surrounding area. I really, really liked this experience.
Firstly, the Black Gallery is just that: lights off and dark inside. The only lights come from the exhibitions and it’s a really immersive experience. I was also the only visitor which made the experience even more unique. During my visit they were showing old photos and videos of locals living their daily life.
After the Black Gallery you head over to the White Gallery where, you guessed it, everything is lit up. During my visit they had a war exhibition with images from local areas affected by the First World War in addition to photos from more recent war zones.
Option 1 – Cable Car to Sardagna
Entrance: 5 euros return ticket
After the Piedicastello Galleries you should cross the river again and head towards the Funivia-Staz. di Valle-Trento cable car station. It’s on your right directly after crossing the San Lorenzo bridge. On the way up, don’t miss the mountain with graffiti on your right. I have no idea how they managed to write on the mountain (and I’m pretty sure it said something about doing the impossible). Mind blown.
The cable car will take you to the outskirts of Sardagna where you can look out over Trento from a viewing platform. Alternatively, there is a bistro called Trento Alta at the top if you fancy a drink or food.
Option 2 – MUSE
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 10.00 – 18.00. Saturday – Sunday 10.00 – 19.00. Closed Mondays.
Address: Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza, 3, 38122 Trento TN
Entrance: 11 euros or 7 euros with Trentino Guest Card
MUSE is a science museum that opened in 2013. The striking architecture by Renzo Piano is meant to emulate the descent of a mountain. You start at the terrace with views of your surroundings. Afterwards you gradually descend the floors until you get to the tropical greenhouse in the basement.
Whilst I wasn’t blown away by MUSE (maybe the hype inflated my expectations too much) there are sections that were great fun. It’s a very interactive museum (great if you have kids). The ground floor is essentially a big science playground with lots of interactive stations. During my visit there was a temporary exhibition about cosmo cartoons, which was brilliant. It’s on until 14th June 2020 so you can still visit! Make sure you don’t miss the space rovers and retro games. Finally, the signature exhibition is the animals hanging in the middle of the museum, each representing life at different altitudes.
That’s a wrap folks! I really hope you’ve found inspiration for a weekend in Trentino and will consider a visit to the province. The scenery is absolutely stunning and both cities offer plenty of activities for the weekend traveller. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve been or would like to go!
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