Trentino, or officially the Autonomous Province of Trento, is a province in the north of Italy, which alongside South Tyrol makes up the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtiro.
Trentino is truly a nature lovers dream, with the almighty Dolomites, declared a World Heritage Site in 2009, more than 1000 trees per inhabitant, and almost 300 lakes making up the region.
It is also an extremely eco-friendly destination with more than 30% of the territory subjected to environmental protection and 400 areas dedicated to the conservation of the ecosystem.
Plus Trentino is important within Italy for its cultural heritage, with the province being home to a number of charming castles and historic towns.
It is also (in my opinion) home to some of the most delicious food on the planet, but that’s for you to see for yourself!
Just in case you need more convincing to visit Trentino, here are 10 great reasons…
1) Experiencing ‘Dolce Far Niente’ in Trento
The charming city of Trento is the capital of Trentino Alto Adige and sits nestled within the Adige River Valley. Despite being the regional capital, Trento has a much more relaxed and chilled-out vibe than many other larger Italian cities.
It is a city which really embodies the Italian saying of ‘Dolce Far Niente’, which means the ‘The Sweetness Of Doing Nothing’.
Hence for me, the best thing to do in Trento is absolutely nothing…
No rushing around through busy streets trying to beat the crowds at each over-crowded tourist attraction, but rather grabbing a proper Italian coffee and wandering around the city’s quaint cobbled streets admiring the architecture, or sipping on an Aperol Spritz or glass of Trentodoc while people-watching in Piazza Duomo.
Just the way the locals do.
No wonder Trento is one of the top Italian cities in terms of quality of life.
And if you are after something a little more strenuous, take a wander around the grand 12th century Buonconsiglio Castle and admire its gothic frescos or head to the high-tech MUSE museum of science and natural history.
Another highlight of Trento is taking the short cable car up Mount Bodone to Sardagna where you can admire the beautiful views back down over the city, whilst enjoying another Aperol Spritz of course.
2) The food… Oh the food!
I’m just throwing it out there – and this is a huge statement from me – Trentino is home to some of the BEST food not only in Italy but on the entire planet!
In fact, I’m drolling a little now just thinking about it.
Just like the rest of Italy, Trentino has a close relationship with food. It’s an important part of the local culture, with regional recipes and cooking techniques being passed down the generations, whilst meal times are an important part of everyday life and certainly not something to be rushed.
So what constitutes Trentino food?
Food in Trentino is comforting yet adventurous, filling yet flavoursome.
One important food to known is speck – a type of salt-cured pork (similar to prosciutto) which is produced in Trentino Alto Adige and is a prominent ingredient in many local dishes.
One popular local dish is Canederli Trentini, or the Italian Knödel, which are large bread dumplings mixed with other ingredients such as speck, cheese and spinach.
This dish dates back hundreds of years to when peasants in the region would make the filling and nutritious canederli to reuse stale bread and other ingredients which would otherwise go to waste.
Risotto is another common dish which you’ll find almost everywhere in Trentino, however, unlike canederli which has a fairly consistent list of ingredients, risotto is a blank slate for local chefs to display their incredible talent and creativity.
My personal favourite dish (possibly of all time!) had to be the rather unusual combination of risotto with cassoletto cheese, coffee powder, bay leaf powder and orange zest at Mountain Lake Chalet Tovel – not something I would have usually chosen from the menu but I couldn’t be any gladder that I tried it!
And finally, of course, Trentino does not shy away from the Italian classic of pasta, experimenting with fresh ingredients, locally produced cheese and homemade pastas to create mouth-wateringly delicious dishes that are impossible to say no to.
With all of the incredible food on offer in Trentino, it’s difficult to decide what to choose, but luckily the Italian tradition of four-course meals means that you often don’t have to. Trentino is certainly not the place for those wanting to watch their weight.
If you can’t already tell, I would definitely visit Trentino again for the food alone!
3) The Wine
Just like food, wine is another important part of Italian culture, with Italy being the largest producer of wine in the world and Trentino being no exception.
Trentino is particularly known for its Trentodoc, a local sparkling wine which differs from nearby Prosecco in that it is made using the ‘Metodo Classico’ method used to make champagne. For those who enjoy a glass of bubbles, this lesser-known but high-quality sparkling wine isn’t one to miss.
Not only are you likely to find Trentodoc being served in most bars and restaurants in the region (they are particularly proud of their local produce), but you can also visit a number of the wineries and learn more about the wine and its production.
Cavit, located on the outskirts of Trento, is one such winery open for guests to visit and is also one of the top wine producers in the region, having won a number of awards for its wine over the years.
4) The Morning Swims
There are very few things in life that will convince me to wake up early, however, starting the day with a refreshing dip in a beautiful alpine lake is now one of them.
Trentino is made up of almost 300 lakes as well as a number of large rivers, earning it the nickname ‘little Finland’. The numerous lakes vary greatly in size, altitude and even colour, ranging from crystal clear blues to charming emerald greens.
Lake Tret is an alpine lake located a one hour trek away from the village of San Felice (use the Klammeben parking space). The route is clearly signposted with plenty of beautiful nature to take in along the way.
Thanks to it’s slightly out of the way location, Lake Tret is a gorgeous location for a quiet morning swim – there’s a good chance you’ll be the only ones around.
Down in the south of Trentino is probably the most well known Lake Garda, with its milder climate and surrounding olive trees differentiating it from the alpine lakes of the Dolomites. Garda’s beauty, popularity and numerous resorts have even helped it achieve the nickname ‘the Mediterranean sea of the Alps’.
5) The Watersports
As well as the quiet early morning dips, Trentino’s many lakes and rivers also makes it the ideal travel location for watersport lovers.
The Noce River in Val di Sole was rated one of the world’s top 10 rivers for river sports by National Geographic, and the only location in the top 10 within Europe. So for those who like an adrenaline rush, you won’t find a better place for a spot of Whitewater Rafting.
Or if you’re wanting to take life at a slightly slower pace, kayaking is also a great way to experience Trentino’s lakes. Lake Santa Giustina in Val di Non is one such lake which is great for kayaking, with the large lake leading its way into a maze of hidden caves and crevices which you can explore alongside a local guide.
Over in Valsugana, Lake Caldonazzo and little sister Lake Levico have been awarded the Blue Flag for their calm and clean waters, making them popular destinations for watersports including stand up paddleboarding.
6) The Mountains
While visiting Trentino it’s almost impossible to miss the towering Dolomites, part of the Southern Limestone Alps, which consume the majority of the region. In fact, you don’t even have to even leave Trento to admire the beautiful mountains which peer out from above the city skyline.
And if you do want to venture further into the mountains, there’s plenty of ways to do it. From Trentino’s numerous hiking and trekking routes to more adventurous activities such as rock climbing and mountain biking.
One of my absolute favourite things to do in Trentino had to be e-mountain biking the Malga Campo in Val di Sole.
The tough uphill ride was made easier with the help of the e-bike, while the breathtakingly beautiful views of the snow-frosted tips of the dolomites were more than worth the strenuous journey.
At the top of the mountain, you can even stop for a break in a cosy alpine hut to enjoy a well-deserved beer and a hearty homemade meal.
Then for the most fun part… speeding back down the mountain taking in the stunning views but with minimum effort!
7) The Secret Canyons
There are plenty of surprises and hidden gems all across Trentino, and one such for me was Canyon Rio Sass in Val di Non.
Canyon Rio Sass is a secret canyon found in the heart of Fondo, having been shaped by water to flow right through the small town. Taking a series of walkways and staircases (with a guide and the right equipment of course) you can explore the amazing canyon and its many fossils, stalagmites and stalactites along the way.
8) The Tranquility
The fresh mountain air, the breathtaking scenery, the peaceful surroundings…
I’ve been to a lot of places over the last few years but I have to admit that the tranquillity I felt while sitting by a quiet lake in Trentino was on a whole new level.
If you need some time to clear your mind, to think something through or you simply like spending time with your own thoughts, there’s nowhere quite like Trentino to do that.
And if you really want to relax and connect with nature, head to Therme di Rabbi where you can focus on your mental and physical wellbeing by taking part in activities including barefoot walking and tree-hugging, or maybe just a spot of yoga and a trip to the spa if that’s more your style.
Find out more about a relaxation retreat at Therme di Rabbi in Val di Sole.
9) The Cosy Alpine Lodges
After a day out trekking in the mountains or enjoying Trentino’s watersports, there’s nothing better than cosying up in a beautiful alpine lodge.
Much like the ski chalets you might expect to find in the Austrian Alps, Trentino has a number of charming hotels and guesthouses tucked away in the mountains. Expect wooden buildings, large terraces, traditional spas and on-site restaurants serving tasty homemade meals.
My favourite hotel in Trentino had to be Monroc Hotel, which is best known as a winter ski resort but is also open during the summer months, with beautiful mountain views from each of the rooms’ balconies and a large spa for guests to use.
10) Authentic Christmas Markets
Although the majority of this article has been about things to do in Trentino in the summer, the region is also an amazing winter destination.
Not only are the Dolomite mountains a popular destination for snow sports enthusiasts, but Trento is also home to one of the most charming and authentic Christmas markets in the whole of Italy, even achieving itself the nickname Città del Natale, or “Christmas Town”, during the winter months.
Tips for visiting Trentino:
- Hire a car – it’s the easiest and quickest way to travel around the region and the majority of hotels and attractions have parking for guests.
- Consider the Trentino Guest Card – this nifty card gets you free trips on public transport, free entry to over 60 museums, 20 castles and over 40 other attractions, access to a range of services at discount rates and use of the special regional app. The card is free if you stay at a number of hotels in the region for at least 2 nights, otherwise, it’s a mere €40 per week.
- Trento makes a great base for exploring the region.
- Do not forget your hiking boots – and maybe even some walking poles. Enough said!
- Don’t shy away from Austrian/German foods – many people who visit Italy tend to live on a strict diet of pizza and pasta, however, with Trentino’s history as a part of the Austria-Hungary empire, this type of cuisine is still prominent in the region. Homemade Apple Strudel is a popular breakfast dish across the region, while pretzels are common snacks around Christmas time.
How to get from London to Trentino Italy:
The best way to get to Trentino Italy from London is to fly from London to Verona (for as little as £25 return) then get the train from Verona Porta Nuova Station to Trento. The train takes around 1 hour and costs as little as €4 depending on the time of travel.