Trento Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
October 19th, 2009 – by: wheretonextgirl
2 hours north of Milan is Trento. Its beautiful and its quant and cupped between the dolomite mountains. Once part of austria, its filled with its share of history, culture, winding streets and expansive piazzas. In the 5 months that I've been here, my most favorite is still the gorgeous and sprawling piazza duomo: there i have laughed whole heartedly with friends, ridden through on my bike, licked menta gelato from my fingers, purchased bouqets of flowers,gazed for hours at the differing merchants and artisans , and sat at one of the many outdoor cafe's, wondering how life could get any better.
When first arriving in Trento, the first thing I noticed were the mountains, and the second thing, how far my dorm was from the center. In the end, this fear (or perhaps lazyness) was a gift in disguise because every day I was given yet another chance to stare outside at the beautiful scenery. It never once set in, (the snow capped mountains,trickling rivers and streams, medieval arches and alleyways)- I think up until the end, it seemed almost surreal. Each morning and afternoon I stared outside of the bus window (if i wasn't reading from a textbook or chatting wityh friends/locals) and as packed, suffocatingly humid and unfortunately smelly, as it was at times, I loved those moments.
Even more fun was biking around Trento. First, I was a little nervious, I have to admit- the last time I rode a bike I was still shopping in the childrens section and instead of turning around a corner, ran into a mailbox. And then there was Trento- the city CREATED for bikes. There are not just sidewalks but "pistaciclabile", which in the easiest way to explain them are wide sections of asphalt seperate from sidewalks and streets specially made for bicycle traffic. There, I saw everyone and their mother's cousin riding a bike. One morning I saw an old man who looked like a mix between Al Pacino and Santa Claus, riding an old and seemingly rusty bike while managing to at the same time, smoke a ciggarette and weave around pedestrians walking near Piazza Fiera. I too decided to give bicycling a go and I loved it. The whole semester only one minor accident occured (minor is the keyword!) which ended in my tire in a man's behind, him cursing in italian (which I unfortunately understood), me apologizing profusely in broken italian and a fast getaway.
(For the record- I had been going really slow and he jumped in front of me- there were witnesses!)
The strange thing about trento, or even italy in general, is you forget how old it is. In trento's case, how medeival. It's almost as if it takes tripping over a cobblestone for you you to realize, oh wait, isn't that a 900 year old castle staring me in the face? Sure, you can't throw a rock without hitting a United Colors of Benetton store, but its those random times when you stop to think about where you are when you come to realize you are walking amid history. Where landmark councils were held and wars were fought.
If the gorgeous scenery and history wasn't enough, Trento has its own special something: its austrian-ness. Before WW1, beloved, beautiful trento was part of austria- and though i'm not an expert, sometimes you really can see the remnants all over the place. There are the "Alpini", for example, Italy's mountain military forces, with their green uniforms and hats with the long feather sticking out. (google it). Another aspect is the local dialect, which many times consists of cutting the end of words, as in "mezz pezz de pan" instead of "mezzo pezzo di pane" (half a piece of bread). I can recall one day when I was riding the bus a man continued to talk to me in 'Trentino' for at least 20 minutes, despite my "confused and boggled" facial expression and my completely irrelevant answers to his questions.
Then there's the food! The sour krout, the canedeli, the doey struedels and of course wurstel (hot dogs). Sure, you can still find a great plate of pasta or an amazing slice (or 8) of pizza, but the local food is more characteristic. One of my favorite local dishes is called "strangola dei preti"or priest stranglers. Who knew that gnocchi( potato dumplings) with spinach could sounds so blasphemous...
In the end, to be openly bias my favorite thing about Trento was the fantastic people I met from all over the world and the amazing times we shared. Leaving aside my own personal memories and speaking just about Trento, I would say that, for me, one of the most memorable things about the area were the mountain top refuges. Its a strange pick, I know. Whether it was during the winter when it was so cold and foggy that we couldn't see 5 feet before us or summer when the mountains were like a lush, green canvas, the refuges always remained. Its hard to explain but every time they came in sight it was as if admist the silent and inherently stark nothingness of nature, there was this wooden structure. Depending on the Refugio, you can rest your feet, eat a warm meal and some, even sleep the night. Their simplicity, beauty and sheer remoteness make them, for me, something you must see and almost certainly will never forget.
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