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Trento. Alpine elegance, history and legends

By Wednesday, 12 October 2022 08:00

Trento, a blend of Alpine elegance, history and legends is right in the centre of the north-eastern Trentino region.

It is a lively, cosmopolitan city that seamlessly blends an Alpine soul with Italian sophistication in a heady mix of Medieval monumentality and graceful Renaissance frescoes.  

trento neptune fountain

Neptune is a symbol of the city

The central Piazza del Duomo is dominated by the Palazzo Pretorio, and the 43-metre-high Piazza Tower.  On the eastern side stands the Romanesque-Gothic 12th-century Cathedral of St Virgil, while in the centre we find the splendid late-Baroque Neptune Fountain. It may seem strange to find the god of the sea in a mountain city, but Trento's ancient Roman name was Tridentum, for the three teeth or three city hills that are symbolized by the trident Neptune holds in his hand. 

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Fresscoed buildings and the Gothic Cycle of the Months

Another gem of Piazza Duomo is Casa Cazuffi, the most important domus picta of Renaissance Trento, with depictions of characters and scenes from classical mythology on its façade.

The majestic Palazzo Bonsignore, with its massive walls and crenellated towers, residence of the Prince Bishops who ruled the city up to the Napoleonic era, is one of the most important castle in the Trentino.  It houses art and archaeological collections, and in the Torre Aquila the walls are frescoed with the famous Gothic masterpiece, the Cycle of the Months.  

Delicate frescoes and the Devil’s Palace

Behind Piazza del Duomo, restoration on the main façade of Palazzo Niccoli has revealed beautiful Renaissance-era frescoes dedicated to the Madonna, while on the corner with Via Diaz we find other delicate frescoes, this time on Palazzo Cazuffi.  Not far away behind a massive wooden gate stands the Palazzo Fugger Galasso, better known as the Devil's Palace. Legend, and Goethe who mentions it in his Italian Journey, would have it that the palace was built in a single night by the wealthy banker Georg Fugger who made a pact with the devil.

Renzo Piano’s MUSE Museum

Trento’s modern face is best encapsulated in Renzo Piano's MUSE, a six-floor light-filled space dedicated to nature, mountains, sustainability and technology. On this extraordinary exhibition tour you encounter dinosaurs, primitive man, mammals, glaciers and Alpine forests in a succession of visual, interactive and sensorial experiences in one of Europe's most evocative and fascinating museums.

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