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  Region: Region Capital: Other Province Capitals: Other Important Cities:


Trento - Administrative headquarters of the province and the region Rovereto - The second center of the province Merano, Bolzano

Geographical Position

This is the most northerly region in Italy; spreading over the southern side of the Alpine chain, it borders with Switzerland to the north-west, with Austria to the north and with the Italian regions of Lombardy to the south-west and Venetia to the east and south-east. Known as Venetia-Tridentina until the end of the Second World War, it has been an autonomous region with a special Statute since 1948. It takes its name from Trentino, the territory historically linked to the ancient town of Trent, and from the Alto Adige and was adopted after the First World War to replace the German `Südtirol' (South Tyrol).

 Trentino-Alto Adige has only 1.5% of the population of Italy, in an area equal to 4.5% of the national territory. The population density is the lowest in Italy after Valle d'Aosta. 

The Natural Environment

Morphologically, Trentino-Alto Adige includes the mountains of the Adige basin, the whole Sarca basin (flowing into Lake Garda) and the upper basins of the Chiesa and Brenta rivers. The terrain is largely mountainous: the northern area stretches from the Ortles group (3,899 m.) along the Venoste, Breonie and Aurine Alps to the Vedrette di Ries (3,435 m.). Directly south, between the Merano dip and the Rolle Pass, stretch the porphyric Alto Adige plateau and gentle hills that contrast with the rugged mountains to the north. With the exception of the Monzoni group and the Adamello-Presanella and Cima d'Asta massifs, the whole south of the region is Mesozoic and Cenozoic rock mainly dolomitic and calcareous. Here rise some of the most famous Dolomites such as the Marmolada (3,342 m.), the Catinaccio and the Brenta group.

 The most important river in this region is the Adige, which rises near the Resia Pass, flows along Val Venosta to Merano, touching Bolzano  (where the Isarco feeds it with the waters of the Rienza); the Noce flows into it from the right (Sole and Non valleys) and the Avisio River (Fassa, Fiemme and Cembra valleys) from the left. The Adige flows through Trent and into Val Lagarina. The northern tip of Lake Garda belongs to this region. Other lakes of glacial or morainic origin include Molveno, Ledro, Levico, Caldonazzo, Braies, Carezza and Tovel. Large glaciers cover the sides of the highest mountains. This region is characterized by widely varying climatic conditions resulting from the lie of the valleys, and the range of altitudes and exposures. Places such as Lake Garda and some of the more protected hollows, such as Merano, have sub-Mediterranean conditions, while the elevated zones have typically medium and high-altitude temperatures, with cold, snowy winters, cool ventilated summers and sharp differences in daily temperatures. Precipitations vary greatly from zone to zone and are more abundant in the higher parts of the south and south-west, more exposed to the wet winds from the plain, though much lower in the wide sheltered hollows.

 There are 604,000 hectares of woodland, accounting for 44% of regional territory (after Liguria, Trentino-Alto Adige is the most heavily wooded region in Italy). The most common trees are oak and chestnut, giving way at higher altitudes to beech and conifers (mainly Norway spruce, then larch, stone pine, white spruce, etc.). Higher up, alders and dwarf pines form tangled masses of bush-forest. The most interesting flowers include the twinflower, wall germander, glacier crowfoot and martagon lily. The banks of Lake Garda and the sunny hollows of Bolzano and Merano are the habitat of many Mediterranean-type plants (laurel, rosemary, etc.). The fauna of the region is characterized by chamois, roe deer, red deer and ibex, found mainly in the Stelvio National Park, the largest in Italy (137,000 hectares), partly in Lombardy. Established in 1935 to protect the natural environment of the majestic Ortles-Cevedale mountains, there are visitors centres at Silandro, Rabbi and Cogolo. Natural parks have also been instituted to protect the fauna and flora of the region (Adamello-Brenta, Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino, Sciliar, Puez-Odle, Gruppo di Tessa), and there are several protected areas.

 One of the greatest characteristics of the region is the Dolomite area-almost vertical walls, hundreds of metres high, such as the Sella, the south side of the Marmolada, high sharp peaks like the Madonna Peak in the Pale di San Martino, and the needles and towering rock of the very famous Torri del Vaiolet and the equally renowned Campanile Basso di Benta, all examples of the variety of forms and appearance of these mountains. 

Population and Economy

The population of the region is derived from three different ethnic groups (66.4% German, 29.4% Italian, 4.2% Rhaeto-Romanic, in the province of Bolzano). It is almost equally distributed between the two provinces with a slight majority in the Province of Trent. The most densely populated areas are the two main towns, Val Lagarini, lower Val Isarco and the area around Merano. Progressive, if slow, urbanization is taking place in the main towns; today, more than a third of the region's inhabitants live in small mountain communities. Depopulation of the mountain areas is more evident in Trentino, in the areas only marginally affected by tourism. In contrast, in Alto Adige people are strongly attached to the land and an unusual law of inheritance and farm ownership (the maso chiuso) meaning that land cannot be split up among heirs but passes in its entirety to the eldest son, absolute head of a family-run farm, tends to reduce population drift. There has been progressive migration of the Italian-speaking populace in the Province of Bolzano(two-thirds are German-speaking), who have concentrated almost entirely in the chief town and in some of the larger towns (especially Merano). There is a considerable flow of seasonal workers from Venetia and the regions in the south of Italy, attracted by the jobs available in hotels and tourist resorts.

 The Province of Trent, almost entirely Italian-speaking, is characterized by the presence of dialects, some of Venetian origin and some Lombard (especially from Brescia). The bilingual Province of Bolzano (German and Italian) has a small Rhaeto-Romanic Ladin speaking population; this dialect originates directly from Latin and is a characteristic of the ethnic group living in Val Gardena, Val Badia and part of Val Pusteria.

 From an economic point of view, the regional standard of living is on the average higher than the national. In Alto-Adige agriculture is characterized by the maso chiuso system, and in Trentino by a certain fractioning of the land, still of considerable importance. The principal cereal grown is rye. Fruit is extensively grown (Adige Valley, lower Val Isarco, Val di Non, Val Venosta) and the region has the highest apple production in Italy. Vine growing is widespread and high quality wines are obtained. Other important primary activities are forestry, (approximately 17% of Italy's timber for processing) and livestock breeding (especially cattle) which provides the basis for a flourishing dairy industry. Mining is limited (uranium, copper, fluorite, baryta, marble, asphaltic rock, in small quantities). Naturally, the industrial sector with the heaviest concentration of large factories along the Adige Valley has a high output of hydroelectric power (as a result of the vast quantities of water available) and is thus second only to Lombardy. There are industrial areas of a certain size at ,Bolzano, Rovereto and Merano, all of which developed after the Second World War. The main industries are steel and metal-working (Bolzano, Rovereto), engineering (Bolzano, Trent), chemicals (Trent, Bolzano, Merano), paper, textiles and food (canning, breweries).

 The service sector is closely linked to the massive flow of tourists, both in summer and winter, and to the many and well-equipped holiday resorts. Commercial, financial and administrative activities are concentrated in the two chief towns. Local crafts include wood-carving in Val Gardena, copper-working in Val Sugana, and weaving at Merano, Brunico and Rovereto (silk).

 In spite of the prevalently mountainous terrain, Trentino-Alto Adige, an obligatory corridor between the Mediterranean and Central Europe, has a good communications network centred on the mainline railway and motorway linking Verona to the Italian-Austrian Brenner Pass. 


Trentino-Alto Adige is truly the alpine region which can satisfy all the imaginable needs of the mountain-loving tourist: it possesses permanent snow, harsh dolomitic mountain passes, green meadows, unpolluted forests, but also gentle sunny slopes covered with vines, evocative medieval-looking villages, together with a large number of castles and towers dominating the valleys or mirrored in the waters of the lakes. This is all evidence of the colourful history of this borderland, which has always marked the point of transition to and from the Latin and Germanic worlds. From the direction of the Po Valley and along the banks of Lake Garda, still retaining a Mediterranean aspect, Trentino starts at Riva del Garda, a pretty town and one of the favourite watering places of the Hapsburg Court, with a medieval stronghold surrounded by lake waters, and the thirteenth century Torre Aponale. From here the visitor can climb Val di Ledro (to visit the remains of the pile-dwellings on the lake of the same name), reaching the green Giudicarie valleys within sight of the majestic Adamello (3,554 m.) glaciers. Going along Val Rendena, at Tione di Trento, one reaches Madonna di Campiglio, an internationally famous tourist resort. Turning right (along the Giudicarie Esteriori valleys) one comes to Stenico Castle, of architectural interest (frescoes), before reaching the Trent plain dominated by Mount Bondone (2,179 m.).

 From the chief town (see specific chapter) it is possible to take one of several directions: to the east lies Val Sugana with the spas of Levico and Vetriolo, and Pergine, its main town dominated by an austere medieval castle; or Val di Cembra, where the curious geological phenomenon of the Segonzano pyramids must not be missed. The Fiemme and Fassa valleys open at the foot of world-famous groups of mountains, a paradise for climbers, hikers and skiers (Lagorai, Latemar, Catinaccio, Marmolada). In these valleys tourist resorts with excellent facilities are Cavalese, Predazzo, Moena, Vigo, Pozza, Campitello and Canazei). In the same area, on the other side of Passo Rolle, lies San Martino di Castrozza, another popular tourist resort at the foot of the Pale di San Martino. Going north, from Trent, one can reach the beautiful Val di Non with its gentle, harmonious landscape, famous for its orchards and many castles, including Thun and Cles, overlooking Lake Santa Giustina. Along the Adige Valley, past Salorno which marks the boundary between the two provinces, lies a succession of picturesque villages: Magrè, Cortaccia, Caldaro and Appiano (all places recently defined as `along the wine road'), situated on a sunny terrace amid vineyards. From Bolzano(see specific chapter) it is possible to follow the Isarco and after thirty kilometres come to Chiusa, dominated by the Benedictine abbey of Sabiona; slightly farther on is Bressanone, a very interesting little town with a beautiful 13th century Duomo and characteristic buildings dating to the 15th and 16th centuries. Nearby stands Novicella abbey, an important centre of culture in the Middle Ages. Pressing on towards the Brenner Pass, near the Austrian border, one reaches Vipiteno, an interesting late Gothic centre with the Torre di Città, and Palazzo Comunale.

 On the other hand, by following the Adige River from Bolzano, one reaches a vast spreading hollow characterized by a mild climate, in which lies Merano, the renowned holiday resort combining the beauty of the surrounding landscape with an interesting and well-conserved historical town centre (Duomo, castle, Via dei Portici). In the surrounding area stands Castel Tirolo, an imposing twelfth century castle overlooking the plain of Merano and well worth a visit. From Merano, along Val Venosta, on the road to the Resia Pass, dotted with castles, one first reaches Naturno with the ancient church of San Procolo, then Silandro with its 15th century castle, Glorenza, a medieval fortified town surrounded by 15th century walls, Malles with its church of San Benedetto (11th century) and the nearby abbey of Monte Maria. Of the Venosta side valleys, mention must be made of Val Senales, bounded by the Tessa and Similaun groups of mountains and the Palla Bianca (3,736 m.), a paradise for the summer skier. Val di Trofoi and Val di Solda lead into the heart of the Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio, at the foot of the Ortles (3,899 m.) and Cevedale (3,764 m.). Valleys worthy of mention in the north-west of Bolzano Province, are the socalled Valli Ladine, Gardena and Badia, where a magnificent alpine landscape alternates with thick forests and wide meadows at the base of the high Dolomite peaks (Sasso della Croce, Gardenaccia, Gruppo di Sella, Sasso lungo). Pedraces, La Villa and Corvara in Val Badia, Selva, Santa Cristina and Ortisei in Val Gardena constitute the major tourist resorts and are all focal points in a ski circuit that has few rivals in the whole range of the Alps. Visitors are strongly recommended to make the ascent to the magnificent Alpe di Siusi plateau (average height 2,000 m.), its magnificent meadows and woods dominated by the Sciliar (2,564 m.), Catinaccio (3,004 m.) and Sassolungo (3,181 m.) groups.

 Almost at the mouth of Val Badia, is the picturesque town of Brunico, with its characteristic crenellated housetops, at the beginning of Val di Tures which leads into Val Aurina, the extreme northern strip of Italy. There are many other tourist attractions which are `not to be missed', of which two fine examples are: Val di Genova with the beautiful Nardis waterfall (over 100 m.) and Val di Braies, a lateral valley of Val Pusteria, leading to the lake of the same name stretching beautifully at the foot of Croda del Becco (2,810 m.). 


Trent (Trento)(TRENTINO)

Trent is situated 194 m, above sea level on flat ground by the Adige River dominated by Mount Bondone (2,179 m.) and Paganella (2,125 m.) by the Verona-Brenner railway and motorway.

 It was a Roman town of some importance (Tridentum) and, after Goth, Lombard and Carolingian rule, it passed in 1027 from Emperor Conrad II `the Salic' to the Bishop-Counts. It was the capital of a vast principality, initially stretching as far as the Brenner, but subsequently reduced in size after the creation of the Bishopric of Bressanone and the County of Tyrol. Though established as a satellite State of the Germanic Empire, it always had a certain independence. The Council of Trent was held there from 1545 to 1563, in an attempt to curb the rapid progress of Martin Luther's Reformation. The principality lasted until 1801 when, following the Lunéville treaty, it was absorbed by the Hapsburg Provinces of which it remained a part, with the brief exception of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy (1810-1813), until 1918. It then became part of Italy.

 Monuments: These include: the Duomo (12th-13th century, Romanesque-Gothic), seat of the Council of Trent, with the chapel of the Crocifisso (Baroque), in front of which the conciliar decrees were promulgated; Castello del Buonconsiglio, an imposing building dating to various periods (original nucleus 13th century), seat of the Bishop-Princes; in the adjoining Torre dell'Aquila, end-15th century frescoes of the `Ciclo dei Dodici Mesi' (depicting peasant life at that time) can be admired; Palazzo Pretorio (13th century), Torre Civica (13th century), chiesa di Sant'Apollinare (14th century), chiesa di San Lorenzo (13th century), Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (16th century), Palazzo Municipale (16th century), Palazzo Galaasso (17th century), Palazzo Geremia (16th century).

 The economy of Trent is based on a flourishing commercial sector favoured by the geographical position of the town, at the junction of important lines of communication, on important administrative (Regional and Provincial offices) and cultural activities (University). The industrial sector is also well developed and is characterized by small-to-medium chemical, textile, engineering, electrotechnical, timber processing and building material companies. The surrounding fertile lands are cultivated with vineyards and orchards.

 Events: International Mountain Film Festival (April), Climbing and Hiking Salon (April), Concerts, theatrical and folklore performances (September-October), Fiera di San Giuseppe (March), Festa di San Vigilio (26th June).

 Famous People: Cesare Battisti (patriot, 1875-1916), Andrea Pozzo (architect and artist, 1642-1709), Alessandro Vittoria (sculptor and architect, 1525-1608), Bernardo Clesio (bishop, 1485-1539).

 Cultural Institutions: University, Museo del Duomo (Flemish tapestries, 15th century), local craft exhibition (Palazzo Galasso), Castello del Buonconsiglio, Museo Provinciale d'Arte (archeology and paintings), Museo Storico in Trento, Museo Nazionale Trentino, Museo di Storia Naturale and Museo Storico Nazionale degli Alpini (all museums).

 In the Province: Rovereto (industrial centre, Museo Storico della Guerra, collection of relics and weapons of the First World War, the home of Antonio Rosmini), Arco (holiday resort), Riva del Garda (holiday resort, environmental interest), S. Martino di Castrozza (mountain holidays), Madonna di Campiglio (mountain holidays), Vigo di Fassa (Museo dell'Istituto Culturale Ladino-Rhaeto-Romanic cultural institute), Molina di Ledro (pile-dwelling museum). 

Bolzano (ALTO ADIGE)

Rising 262 m. above sea level on a vast plain near the confluence of the Isarco and the Adige rivers, all traffic must pass this way to the Brenner Pass.

 Bolzano was a Roman settlement with the name of Pons Drusi, then became a town called Bauzanum. It was first the object of dispute between the Lombards and the Baiuvari (7th to 8th centuries) and subsequently between the Baiuvari and the Franks.

 At the start of the 11th century it came under the rule of the Bishop-Princes of Trent who held it until 1278 when it passed to the Counts of Tyrol, who exerted a Germanic influence on the town. In 1363, together with the entire County of Tyrol, it was annexed to the provinces of the Duchy of Austria. This was the beginning of a period of great prosperity linked to its extensive trade. It remained under the Hapsburgs, apart from a brief Napoleonic period (1805-1814), then in 1918, after the First World War, became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

 The old town centre is very interesting. The influence of German architecture can be seen, especially in the narrow Via dei Portici, which threads between 15th and 16th century buildings, of which the most important are: Palazzo Mercantile (early 18th century, Baroque), seat of the ancient Magistratura Mercantile which regulated the fairs and settled disputes between merchants. Also in the old historic centre is the Duomo (14th century, remarkable frescoes) beside a high pointed bell-tower (16th century, 65 m.), the chiesa dei Domenicani (13th century) with the chapel of San Giovanni (13th century frescoes) and the cloister (12th-15th centuries), the chiesa dei Francescani (14th century, Gothic). The Gries district has a parish church (15th-16th century, with an altar-piece carved and painted by M. Pacher in 1471-5). Near the town is Castel Roncolo (13th century) on a steep rock over the Talvera River with beautiful 13th and 14th century frescoes, and also Castel Mareccio, with its wine cellars.

 The town's economy has been based on prosperous trading since medieval times, favoured by its location at the crossroads of important natural lines of communication. Since the unification of Italy, industry has also developed. There are engineering, steel, chemical, wood processing and food factories. Vines and fruit are cultivated on the hills round the town.

 Events: International Trades Fair (September), Local Wine Exhibition (March to April), Flower Market (1st May), Ferruccio Busoni piano competition (September).

 Famous People: Michael Pacher (artist and sculptor, 1435-1498), Walter von der Vogelweide (poet, 1170-1230), Andreas Hofer (patriot, 1767-1810).

 Cultural Institutions: State Archives, Civic Library, Conservatory, Civic Museum (art gallery and archeology), Alto Adige Culture Centre.

 In the Province: Merano (holiday resort), Bressanone (environmental interest), Brunico (environmental interest), Ortisei (mountain holidays, seat of the Union of Rhaeto-Romanic people in the Dolomites), Dobbiaco (holiday resort).