Ask a local: what should I do, see, and eat in Trento, Italy?

by Gigi Griffis

Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town. The following interview was originally published in my Italy guide.

Today I’m happy to introduce you to Edy, a theater buff, sports enthusiast, and local here to tell us all about Trento – an ancient mountain town and gateway to the Dolomites – the mountain range of UNESCO fame.

First, tell us about you.

I’ve been living in Trento my whole life (41 years). In the last 10 years, I’ve had to go elsewhere for work, but during weekends I tend to come back to Trento.

In my free time, I love alpine hiking, skiing (both mountain and distance), biking (both mountain and road), and playing indoor soccer. I’m also interested in culture, museums, cinema, and theater.

If someone is visiting Trento for the first time, what do you recommend they see or do?

Trento is a very old town and a mountain town, so the first things to see are its historical landmarks and mountain environment.

Specifically: the old center of Trento is wonderful (particularly the dome square with the cathedral), as are Buonconsiglio Castle (and its museum), and the Muse Museum (designed by architect Renzo Piano). You can easily stroll around the center and see everything because it is a car-free area.

What neighborhoods or parts of town are best to stay in?

I suggest staying in the center of Trento. And if you’re staying for a while, consider spending some of your days in the mountains or at Riva del Garda. (And if you do go to Riva, make sure to visit Arco Castle and the beautiful medieval village of Canale.)

Let’s talk about day trips…what nearby places should everyone make sure to visit?

Very close to the city, you can visit some of the most beautiful mountains and lakes, including Gruppo di Brenta, Val di Fassa, Val di Fiemme, and Lake Garda, Caldonazzo (where there are tons of lake sports to participate in), Levico, Tenno, and Molveno.

Roverto and its Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art are also worth a visit.

Tell us about the local dishes. What should people try here?

The traditional food in Trento is the poor man’s food. In the winter season, try tortel di patate (fried potatoes), carne salada (meat), speck (bacon), canederli in brood (dumplings in broth), potato gnocchi, strangolapreti (literally, “priest stranglers” because, according to legend, the clergy liked them so much that they would eat until they choked), crauti (sauerkraut), and polenta (cornmeal). Also trout is quite common.

What are your top three favorite bars and restaurants?

Bars: Plan (at Largo Giosue Carducci 38), Cantinota (at Via S. Marco 22/24), Pasi (located at Piazza Mario Pasi 1), Feeling (at Via Androna 1), Accademia (at Vicolo Colico 4/6), Willy (at Via Pranzelores 46), and Simposio (at Via Rosmini 19).

Restaurants: Loto (at Via Gocciadoro 62), Forst (at Via Paolo Oss Mazzurana 38), and Pedavena (at Piazza Fiera 13).

Pizzerias: Oro Stube (located at Via Sommarive 10) and Grotta (at Vicolo San Marco). Grotta is famous for its huge portions.

For students and young people, Picaro (located at Vicolo San Giovanni 36) is also a popular restaurant.

What is the best way to meet locals and make friends?

Visit the bars I suggested above or go to university, which has events designed for meeting new people. People from Trento are not so open in the beginning. Remember: We are Nordic mountain people, not at all similar to people from Rome or southern Italy.

Why should people make sure to visit Trento?

Architects say that Dome Square is the most beautiful square in Italy.

What is the best place to go take beautiful photos of the city?

Dome Square, Giro al Sass (a road-running competition in mid-October), the Muse Museum, and Monte Bondone (a nearby mountain with wonderful views of the city).

Also, Martignano and Sardagna, two hilltop villages, offer great views of the city.

Anything else you want us to know?

The university is very important and they are trying to develop something similar to a Silicon Valley in Trento by supporting a lot of research and start-ups.

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