A Complete Guide To Visiting Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge, Trentino

A Complete Guide To Visiting Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge, Trentino

Orrido di Ponte Alto is a very narrow canyon with two scenic waterfalls that dive right into it, located at a very short distance from the center of Trento, in the lovely region of Trentino, in Northern Italy. If you happen to visit Trentino in the summer, you should make it a point to go.

In this post, I will share some background information on Orrido di Ponte Alto and share some useful tips to plan your visit and make the most of your time there.

Ponte Alto

The canyon of Ponte Alto, carved by the Fersina river

Some Background Information About Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge

Trentino is packed with beautiful waterfalls. I had visited the one over Rio Ragaiolo, where there also is a suspended bridge, in the winter – you can read more about it on my post A Winter Guide To Val Di Sole.” However, Orrido di Ponte Alto is more than just a waterfall.

The canyon of Orrido di Ponte Alto has been carved by the waters of the Fersina stream over the course of thousands of years. Fersina is a river that springs from Erdemolo lake, an Alpine lake located at 2600 meters above sea level in the Mocheni Valley, and a tributary to Adige river.

Fersina heads to the valley where Trento is located, from an area located at around 1800 meters above sea level and it does so in a very short distance – thus gaining a lot of force in its descent and thus posing a great threat to Trento as it caused frequent flooding, submerging the city, damaging the houses and the agricultural land around it.

It was in the 1500s that the local population started attempting to control the flow of the water, building two different dams which were intended to slow down the river and hold at least part of the debris it carried to the valley.

Throughout the centuries, several works have been done to control the river.

The first dam on Fersina was built in 1537 upon orders of Bernardo Clesio. This was entirely made of wood and just 20 meters high – in today’s term, it may be considered quite rudimentary, but back in the day when it was built it was a truly revolutionary work. The dam was meant to stop all the material carried by the Fersina river to the valley, and prevent it from causing damages.

This dam worked for a period of 6 years, but after a period of heavy rain the damn was destroyed and all the material it held was flushed down to the city of Trento, causing enormous damage.

The dam was then built again – higher and stronger. However, once again it was destroyed after a few years, once again leaving Trento unprotected.

The fight between the city of Trento and the Fersina river continued throughout the centuries. More consolidation works were undertaken even during the Habsburg Empire – leading to the latest version of the dam which dates back to 1850 and which is entirely built of stone.

The dam caused the creation of two beautiful 40 meters high waterfalls, which jump directly from red rock cliffs and create gorgeous sound and light effects.

With all this information, it’s easy to see how Orrido di Ponte Alto is a place of striking natural beauty as well as of historical importance. 

Orrido di Ponte Alto

A nice, easy day trip from Trento suitable for the whole family

Visiting Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge

Orrido di Ponte Alto is very close to Trento. It’s an easy and quick day trip out of the city, so it would be a pity to miss it when in town. It’s an easy place to visit, suitable even to families with children (though keep in mind that the trail isn’t suitable for strollers). There isn’t an actual trail – it mostly is steps. The site has been closed from the 1980s until 2017, when major renovation work made it once again safe to visit.

What to expect when visiting Orrido di Ponte Alto Gorge

As soon as you arrive at Orrido di Ponte Alto, you’ll spot a flight of stairs going down. This go deep into the gorge carved by the mighty Fersina river. But before going down, you’ll be meeting a guide that will give you plenty of information about the dams, their historical importance, and which will lead you safely around the site.

The first part of the visit of Orrido di Ponte Alto consists of an in depth explanation about river and the dams built to slow down its course. After that, you will head to a first panoramic point, which overlooks the first waterfall that flows right under the beautiful bridge, right by the first dam known as Controserra Madruzza. It’s a really beautiful sight, especially when after heavy rains the waterfall is flowing in all its power.

From there, you’ll go back on the trail and then continue walking down, along the river and towards the second dam. That’s when you’ll be able to fully appreciate how the river has carved the rock, giving it interesting shapes and beautiful colorings.

Finally, you’ll get to the best part of the visit, close to the oldest dam, and you will be able to go all the way above the river and admire the second waterfall from above, and the river as it impetuously goes through the narrow gorge.

But this is not the last stop. Indeed, the guide will open a small door from where you’ll head to a narrow, spiral staircase that takes you to a small balcony from where you’ll be able to observe the waterfall from behind. It’s not really easy to explain what I mean. You will be basically standing behind the waterfall, admiring water as it goes down, listening to its deafening sound.

That’s the ending point of the visit, from where you will walk back up to the entrance following the same trail.

Orrido di Ponte Alto entrance

The entrance is right by this restaurant, on its side

Practical Information To Plan Your Visit To Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge

How To Get To Orrido Di Ponte Alto

Orrido di Ponte Alto is located at just 4 km from Trento. The best way to get there is by bus. You can take bus n. 9 from Piazza Dante (right by the train station) and get off at Cognola Scuole. It will take about 20 minutes. From there, it is another 10 minutes walk until you get to what looks like a restaurant (see picture above).

You can also get there by car, in which case you’ll have to park at Cognola sports complex in Via Ponte Alto.

Guided tours of Orrido di Ponte Alto Gorge

For security reasons, you’ll only be allowed to visit Orrido di Ponte Alto on a guided tour. There is no need to book in advance. Guided tours leave every hour between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM every Saturday and Sunday from March to November, and between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM from December to February.

Groups of maximum 22 people are allowed at once. If you are visiting during high season, I recommend heading to the starting point a bit before the tour is supposed to start to make sure you have a spot, or else you may have to wait for a full hour for the next tour.

For group tours and tours during other days of the week, bookings are required.

The visit lasts between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on the group and its speed.

Tickets

You can visit Orrido di Ponte Alto for free if you have a Trentino Guest Card. Otherwise, admission costs are €5 euro for adults, and €3 euro for children between 6 and 12 years of age. It’s free for children under 6 years of age.

Recommendations upon visiting

Make sure to be dressed appropriately. You won’t really need hiking boots, but as there are lots of stairs and the water sprays everywhere, it may be slippery in places, so a pair of actual walking shoes are better than flip flops or sandals. Once you get all the way down the gorge, it gets quite chilly (especially once you go down the spiral staircase to see the waterfall from behind). You may want to carry a rain proof jacket or a poncho to cover up and keep you dry then.

As in most other places in Trentino, dogs are welcome at Orrido di Ponte Alto. But keep in mind that they may be uncomfortable with the noise and the metal trail. I saw no dogs when I visited.

Further readings about Trentino

If you are planning a trip to Trentino, make sure to read my other posts:

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of Trentino, Trentino Marketing and Traverse Events during my last trip to Trentino, and wish to thank them for putting together an incredible itinerary and for welcoming me ever so kindly. Needless to say, all the views expressed in this post remain my own.

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10 Fantastic Day Trips From Milan

10 Fantastic Day Trips From Milan

There are many fantastic day trips from Milan – it’s just a matter of picking the one that better suits one’s needs and interests.

Milan is one of the most interesting places to visit in Italy, and in recent years it has been getting more and more attention from travelers who enjoy its fantastic museums; its fun nightlife; the infinite shopping opportunities and the incredible vibe. However, fast paced as it is, it can get a bit overwhelming at times. The good news is that this vibrant city is very well connected to the rest of Northern and Central Italy, so it is extremely easy to get out, even just for a day. The choice of day trips from Milan is incredible!

This post highlights the nicest day trips from Milan, with a few tips to make the most of them. For the sake of clarity, I will divide my selection of Milan day trips by larger topics – lakes and lake regions; the gorgeous Cinque Terre; wine tours and cities.

day trips from Milan

Lake Como is the perfect place for day trips from Milan

10 Fantastic Day Trips From Milan

The Lakes

The region of Lombardia, of which Milan is the capital, is known for the many beautiful lakes. Needless to say, among the best day trips from Milan, there has to be one to the lakes and the beautiful, quaint villages that surround them.

Lake Como

Lake Como and the city that gives it its name are an easy 30-minute train ride north of Milan. The lake, which is of glacial origins, is the third biggest lake in Italy and, with a depth of up to 400 meters, one of the deepest lakes in Europe. It is gorgeous, making it a perfect place to enjoy some good day trips from Milan.

The lake has been a popular retreat for wealthy aristocrats since Roman times. With the many beautiful villages (Bellagio, Brunate and Varenna to name just a few), villas (the most famous ones are Villa Carlotta, Villa d’Este and Villa Serbelloni) and palaces (some of them property of famous actors) that are scattered in the area, it obviously is a fantastic tourist destination, ideal for day trips from Milan.

Lake Como itself is fantastic for kitesurfing, windsurfing and sailing. There are several farms in the surrounding area, producing goods such as honey, cheese, milk, and even olive oil. They are pleasant places to visit, even during Milan day trips.

Here are some more great options for day tours to or in Lake Como:

day trips from Milan

Lake Maggiore is a good place for day trips from Milan

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in Italy. Located in the southern side of the Alps, the lake and its shoreline are divided between the Italian regions of Lombardia and Piemonte, and the Swiss Canton Ticino. It’s a lovely place to go to on day trips from Milan, as it benefits from mild weather throughout the year.

Among the most beautiful small towns on Lake Maggiore there are Stresa, Laverno and Locarno. During day trips from Milan to Lake Maggiore it is possible to cruise around the lake to explore its lovely Borromean Islands such as Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori, all the while admiring the Alps in the distance.

Here are some more great options for day tours to or in Lake Maggiore:

day trips from Milan

Lake Garda is a good choice for day trips from Milan

Lake Garda

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, located about half way between Milan and Venice, and on the edge of the Dolomites. It is a very popular holiday destination and, needless to say, it makes for one of the best day trips from Milan, for it offers interesting activities such as boat rides, sailing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.

Scattered across the lake there’s several small islands, that are really nice to visit even during day tours from Milan. The largest one is Isola del Garda, famous for being the place where Francesco d’Assisi founded a monastery in 1220 – though in its place now there is a 19th century gothic style building.

The most popular small town on the lake is the romantic Sirmione, which is packed with interesting tourist sites and good cafés, restaurants and bars. Desenzano del Garda is another lovely village that is pleasant to visit on day trips from Milan. It is a popular bathing resort, but there’s also plenty of cultural sites.

Here are some more great options for day tours to or in Lake Garda:

Milan day trips

Cinque Terre can actually be seen on day trips from Milan

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre probably deserves more than a day, but when time is limited, day trips from Milan to Cinque Terre (or even day trips from Florence to Cinque Terre) are a good way to get at least a feel for it, and prepare to go again.

This part of the coast of Liguria has beautiful, dramatic sceneries. It is so unique that it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Surrounding the beautiful, colorful coastal villages there are some fabulous vineyards (the wine in this region is excellent) and olive and lemon groves. There are many nice, small beaches – swimming here is a must even during Milan day trips.

Four of the five villages of Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso and Manarola, which is the oldest of them – are right on the coast and have direct access to the sea. Corniglia is higher up on the hills and it is landlocked. There is an old railway that connects all the villages, making it possible to visit them all during day trips from Milan.

When time is limited, the best way to appreciate Cinque Terre, especially during day trips from Milan, is on a guided tour. A guide will be able to guide visitors through the 5 different small towns scattered along the coast, taking care of all the logistics while tourists can just enjoy the extraordinary views.

An excellent company for day trips from Milan to Cinque Terre is Ciao Florence – which as the name may suggests mostly leads tours from Florence to Cinque Terre. A typical tour includes a boat ride along the coast, which is especially appreciated by lovers of photography as there are fantastic views of the towns from the sea.

For some day tours from Milan to Cinque Terre, try these:

day trips from Milan

The Wine Region

Franciacorta

There are many wine regions in Italy, and even those who travel to Milan will be pleased to know that there’s one really close by and that can be visited on day trips from Milan. Franciacorta is less than one hour from Milan, the area is very picturesque and – needless to say – the wines are delicious.

Franciacorta wines are sparkling wines, thought to be one of the Italian answers to French Champagne. The region is very pretty, extending all the way to lake Iseo and packed with vintage wineries that are fantastic to visit even during Milan day trips.

The best way to make the most of day tours from Milan to Franciacorta is by pairing wine tasting with good food. Given the fact that this is in Italy, one of the best food destinations in the world, this isn’t going to be difficult at all!

Here are some great options for tours to Franciacorta:

day trips from Milan

The gorgeous Bergamo Alta is a great place for day trips from Milan

The Cities

There are many cities to visit in Italy that can be easily reached from Milan either by car, train or bus, and make up for some excellent day trips from Milan. Here, I report the times of the trains I suggest catching in order to enjoy a full day out. Do make sure to check out the updated timetable on the website of Trenitalia.

Bergamo

Bergamo is at a stone’s throw from Milan (around 45 minutes by train) and it is little by little becoming a tourist destination in and of itself. It is really worth to visit Bergamo, even if only on day trips from Milan. The old city, known as Bergamo Alta, is a maze of narrow alleys, gorgeous buildings and viewpoints from where to take in the magnificent views.

The surroundings of Bergamo are just as interesting to visit on Milan day trips. One of my favorite places is Crespi d’Adda, a fantastic example of industrial architecture dating back to the late 19th century and now a UNESCO site. It’s actually right half way between Milan and Bergamo.

Other places to visit on day trips from Milan that are closer to Bergamo are San Pellegrino Terme (QC Terme is the ultimate place to relax) and Scanzo, where it is possible to go on tours to taste the fantastic Moscato di Scanzo wine.

Here are some great options for tours to Bergamo:

Milan day trips

Venice can be seen on day trips from Milan

Venice

Venice hardly needs any introduction. Capital of the region of Veneto, this is one of the most incredible places to visit in Italy, if not in the world. Many travelers complain that it is too packed with tourists or too expensive. I can easily overlook these issues, because Venice is simply, impossibly beautiful. The city does deserve a visit for sure. Though I’d recommending spending a few days there to soak in the atmosphere, if time and budget are limited, going there on day trips from Milan is a good idea.

The train from Milan to Venice takes little over two hours. It’s not the closest place to reach, buti f organized properly it can be done, and it can be a pleasant way to explore another city. If going on Milan day trips to Venice, I recommend to plan to leave nice and early. The first direct train leaves from Milan at 6:45 and gets into Venice at 8:58 am, leaving plenty of time throughout the day to explore La Serenissima (that’s one of the nicknames of Venice).

The city has plenty of interesting places to explore, and it is small enough that it’s easy to see them even on day trips from Milan. Among the unmissable places, there are: Rialto Bridge and the Gran Canale, San Marco Square and the Campanile, Doge’s Palace, San Marco Basilica. I also recommend walking around the Ghetto degli Ebrei, it is quieter than the rest of the city and very pleasant. Last but not least, after a short boat ride it is possible to explore the nearby island of Burano and Murano.

Here are some great options for tours to/in Venice:

Milan day trips

It is possible to see Florence on day trips from Milan

Florence

One of the most famous places to visit in Italy is Florence, the capital of Tuscany – and for a good reason. The city is stunning, to say the least. The best thing would be to actually spend a few days exploring. Yet, it is well connected so it makes sense to even go there on day trips from Milan. The train takes less than 2 hours, indeed.

The 7:20 train from Milano Central Station takes little over one and a half hours and gets in Florence at 8:59 am, leaving plenty of time to explore the city, even when on day trips from Milan.

As there are many things to do and places to visit in Florence, I suggest that those going there on day trips from Milan keep it simple. The must sees in Florence are: the Cathedral, Santa Croce church, Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio and Galleria degli Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio. It is also ok to stretch it all the way to the beautiful Boboli Gardens.

Here are some great options for tours to/in Florence:

Milan day trips

Bologna is the ideal destination for day trips from Milan

Bologna

Bologna, capital of Emilia Romagna, is the food capital of the country, and one of the nicest places to visit in Italy. It is so close to Milan that I’d make the effort to jump on the train and go there even just for lunch. As it takes only one hour by train, it’s a fantastic place to go to on day trips from Milan.

There’s plenty of direct trains going to Bologna, and since the trip is rather short, even those going there on day trips from Milan don’t have to wake up so early. However, if keen on visiting the city, I recommend hopping on the 8:30 train, that gets there at 9:32 am, leaving plenty of time to enjoy all that the city has to offer (and all the food).

Among the places to visit in Bologna that can be enjoyed even on day tours from Milan, there are Piazza Maggiore and Basilica di San Petronio, the Cathedral, the Palazzo del Podestà and the Pinacoteca. Foodies have ample selection of local delicacies to pick from and can easily spend the day eating (in fact, doing a food tour may be a good idea!) or even taking a cooking class.

Here are some of Bologna’s must eats: tortellacci; mortadella; tagliatelle al ragù alla bolognese (by the way, please note that in Italy we don’t eat “spaghetti bolognaise”!); lasagne (we call them lasagne, not lasagna). These are the most traditional dishes, so watch out for some alternatives – the city is packed with fantastic restaurants. Those planning to visit on day trips from Milan should make sure to book in advance. Here’s a selection of the best restaurants in Bologna.

Here are some great options for tours to/in Bologna:

day trips from Milan

The lovely Pavia isn’t so touristy yet and is a great place for day trips from Milan

Pavia

Pavia is a mere 30 minutes drive from Milan and as little as 23 minutes by train, if direct (there is a direct trains every 2 hours, at 10 minutes past the hour). It is still quite unknown to foreign tourism, but a wonderful city to explore, especially with its surroundings. Thus, it is an excellent choice for day trips from Milan.

The city is an architectural gem. There are over 100 towers, and a university which was founded in 1361 and is a great place to visit. Other places to visit in the city include the many medieval and early Renaissance buildings, churches and squares, the Ponte Coperto, che Church of San Michele, the duomo and the Castello Visconteo. It seems a lot, but the city is small and these can all be seen on day trips from Milan.

One of the most important places to visit is the Certosa di Pavia (Chartreuse), which actually is one of the greatest places to visit in Italy. This is a monastery, a sanctuary and beautiful gardens that were founded in the 15th century. It is located at around 8 km from Pavia. Last but not least, on day trips from Milan to Pavia it is also possible to go on a wine tour in the Oltrepo Pavese region.

Here are some great options for tours to/in Pavia:

5 Tips To Make The Most Of Your Day Trips From Milan

Join a guided tour

My best advice to make the most of your Milan day trips is to join a guided tour. Keep in mind that these have been carefully designed and planned by experts to make them completely efficient and running smooth. You’ll have a driver and a guide taking care of you and you’ll only have to worry about relaxing and making the most of your day.

Pick your transportation wisely

If you really aren’t a fan of guided tours and would move around independently, you should consider your transportation options very carefully. Depending on what you plan to do and where you decide to go, you can travel by train or by car.

By train

If the day trips from Milan you are considering are to another city, you may want to travel by train. This will save you the hassle of having to look for a parking spot and having to worry about speed limits and limited traffic areas (ZTL). Train stations in Italy are usually right in the heart of the city, so you’ll be right in the historic center, ready to explore.

You can consult the train timetable for all of Italy and buy train tickets here.

By car

If you enjoy taking road trips, renting a car may be a good idea. Watch out for the speed limits, and remember that Italian laws about drinking and driving are pretty strict.  You can check out the prices of car rental here.

Use Google Maps to get around

Regardless of where you are going, make sure to have a phone with a data plan that allows you to surf the web if necessary, so that you can check Google Maps and look for information. Another thing you can do instead is to download maps on your smartphone, so that you can also use them offline. As soon as you arrive in Italy you will see that it is incredibly easy to get lost in the cities, or to take a wrong turn when driving outside!

Bring a guide book with you

This is especially relevant if your are moving around independently. A good guide book will provide you some relevant background information on the places you are going to visit.

These are some good guide books you may want to bring along:

Get travel insurance

Make sure to get a good travel insurance for your trip to Italy. If you aren’t convinced you need one, head over to my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Otherwise, you can get a good travel insurance here.

Have you ever visited Milan? What are your favorite day trips from Milan?

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Ten Reasons To Visit Trentino In The Summer

Ten Reasons To Visit Trentino In The Summer

I was only 10 the first time my parents decided to visit Trentino for our summer holidays. I don’t have detailed memories of the places we visited (my mother refreshed my memory and told me we visited Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa), but I do remember that we kept being wowed by the incredible scenery and we had a great time. It’s there that I was introduced to the incredible world of hiking, which is now one of my favorite things to do.

Without the shadow of a doubt, Trentino is one of the nicest places to visit in Northern Italy. It’s a lovely region, located between the Southern Alps and easily reached from Venice or Verona. Its main feature is the Dolomites, a fabulous, unique mountain range which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and which it shares with Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Trentino is a land of mountains and lakes; of gorgeous valleys where nature rules (I am still drooling over my pictures of Val di Fassa). Adding to this already fantastic mix there are great food, welcoming people and a few touches of affordable luxury that make it an excellent destination for families, adventure travelers and, needless to say, solo travelers like myself.

places to visit in Northern Italy

My parents would take me to visit Trentino in the summer, as a child

That’s why my parents kept wanting to visit Trentino. We spent a few summers there, and one summer in Chamonix, France, until I turned 18 and decided that cool kids would not travel with their parents but would rather stay home alone in Sardinia during the summer.

After that, I didn’t really visit Trentino until a few weeks ago, when I finally decided it was time to go again and made my way to visit Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa to participate in Suoni delle Dolomiti, one of the best summer music festivals in Italy.

I am so glad I did! I know Trentino is a very popular destination in the winter time, when snow covers the mountains and it’s possible to ski; but I encourage everyone who loves walking and hiking to visit Trentino in the summer.

Yes: Trentino is a great place to spend summer holidays in Italy. In this post, I highlight 10 reasons to visit Trentino in the summer.

things to do in Trentino

Those who visit Trentino get to see the Dolomites: need I say more?

Ten Reasons To Visit Trentino In The Summer

It’s home to the Dolomites

I could have just said mountains, but the Dolomites are not “just mountains.” They are unique, mighty and won’t stop surprising visitors, their vertical walls springing up and diving into the sky at every turn. If most people who visit Trentino will be happy enough to admire the peaks of the Dolomites, those who like adventure sports will want to put their hands on them, quite literally.

Adventure lovers will be happy to know that one of the nicest things to do in Trentino, that is best enjoyed during the summer, is rock climbing: the Dolomites provide plenty of opportunities for that.

visit Trentino

Hiking in Val di Fassa is one of the unmissable things to do in Trentino

There’s some fantastic hiking trails

To me, mountains is sinonymous with hiking. One of the top reasons to visit Trentino in the summer is to enjoy the multitude of hiking trails in the Dolomites. I have done 3 short hikes in the space of 4 days, in the Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa areas, and all felt very rewarding with incredible views and unique cultural experiences.

I also love multi-day treks (hiking Poon Hill, in Nepal, has been one of my favorite experiences to date), and there’s an abundance of those in Trentino. While I was entertaining myself with the gorgeous views of Val San Nicolò, my friend Margherita challenged herself with a 3-days hike in the Brenta Dolomites. I am pretty sure that the next time I visit Trentino in the summer I will head straight there to hike!

It’s also home to Suoni delle Dolomiti

One of the biggest reasons that prompted me to visit Trentino in the summer is Suoni delle Dolomiti, a music festivals where concerts of various music genres are held in the open, free for everyone to attend. Some of the best classic and jazz musicians are invited. I love jazz so I planned my trip around the jazz concerts.

I went to see Yamanaka Electric Female Trio in Val di Fiemme, and it was a fantastic experience: people of all ages sat on the grass as the band played, pine trees at their back. The concert lasted 90 minutes, which went by in a zip. I was also scheduled to attend a sunrise concert, but when I woke up at 4:30 am to get ready to go it was pouring and I learned that the concert had been rescheduled.

Needless to say, Suoni delle Dolomiti is only one of the many events that those who visit Trentino in the summer can enjoy.

visit Trentino

A violin carved into a tree trunk: Suoni delle Dolomiti is just one of the many musical expressions of Trentino

Music is everywhere – literally

I don’t mean to say that, wherever one goes in Trentino, music blasts loudly. In fact, it is peaceful and quiet (unless an event such as Suoni delle Dolomiti is on!). But there’s always a musical theme. Music lovers may already know that Antonio Stradivari, the famous Italian liutist who lived between the 17th and the 18th century, got the spruce wood he used to build his violins in Val di Fiemme.

Those who visit Trentino should not miss the chance to visit the Bosco Che Suona (“music forest”) where the best quality spruce trees that are used to build violins and any other string instruments can be found. Each year, musicians that play at Suoni delle Dolomiti are invited to pick their own tree. Other than the great cultural and musical value found in the forest, this is a great place for a walk or a hike!

But there’s more. Located in Tesero, in Val di Fiemme, there’s Ciresa. This is a factory that works the local spruce to produce soundboards for pianos, as well as violins and any other string instrument. In recent years, Ciresa has patented natural loudspeakers: these are beautiful looking wooden boards that reverberate the sounds at an incredibly high quality level, and on top of it look like works of art. Visiting Ciresa is one of the nicest things to do in Trentino.

things to do in Trentino

Castello di Fiemme is one of the lovely villages those who visit Trentino will be able to enjoy

The villages are just too pretty

There’s no going wrong for those who visit Trentino: all villages are simply beautiful. I was lucky to have a car when I went, so I could drive around and explore. The only issue I had was that I kept stopping for pictures, so it took me forever to go from one place to the other!

Cavalese is one of the largest villages in Val di Fiemme. It’s a pleasant place to walk around, and there’s an interesting history museum where it is possible to learn more about the history of the valley, as well as a contemporary art gallery. It’s a great place to stop for a late afternoon drink or a good gelato, or – even better – a slice of strudel. After all, eating is one of the nicest things to do in Trentino.

Castello di Fiemme is a lovely small village, also in Val di Fiemme. It’s a very quiet place, with narrow cobbled street and a beautiful church that can be seen from a distance, driving down to the village. It’s the kind of place where life goes by slowly, and night brings silence and peace – and it’s a great base from where to visit Trentino.

Val di Fassa also has some gorgeous villages, and those who visit Trentino should not miss an opportunity to explore them. Canazei, Vigo di Fassa, Pozza di Fassa are all nice, but my favorite is Moena, where the majority of the people actually speak Ladin (one of Italy’s 12 minority languages). The first testimony of the village dates back to 1164, which means that it’s probably much older. As I am a lover of narrow alleys, I loved walking around the Quartiere Turco (Turkish Quarters), named after a legendary Ottoman lone soldier who ended up there and decided to settle.

visit Trentino

Not just on a rainy day! Those who visit Trentino will enjoy some lovely art galleries. This one is in Cavalese

There’s some very interesting museums

I get it, most people who visit Trentino in the summer are interested in hiking. The chances of rain during the summer in Trentino are high at night, but slim during the day. But what if it actually rains? Worry not! Trentino is one of the top places to visit in Northern Italy even for history, culture and art lovers. I truly enjoyed visiting the Palace of the Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme, in Cavalese, where I could admire some great paintings by local artists and, most importantly, learn about the history of the region.

The Palace of the Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme is open every day except for Tuesdays, from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:30. Guided tours are offered, and I recommend taking one and it includes a visit to the underground jails, where prisoners have carved some truly interesting lines and drawings on the walls. Learning about its history is one of the nicest things to do in Trentino.

Cavalese is also home to a great Contemporary Art Museum, which is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 15:30 to 19:30. It hosts some very interesting pieces by contemporary local artists, and it’s recently gone all the way to acquire its own permanent exhibit. There’s also an art room for children, to get them drawing and painting and overall just closer to art and culture – so a fun place to spend a couple of hours for anybody who visit Trentino.

visit Trentino

One of the nicest things to do in Trentino is enjoying the food

The food is delicious

Those who visit Trentino never go hungry. I can’t comment on the cheese as I am (sadly) lactose intolerant, but cold cuts such as carne salada (salted, cured beef) and speck (an incredibly tasty cured kind of ham) are fabulous, especially if accompanied by rye bread, which is a local specialty too. Polenta accompanies many a dish, first and foremost the delicious slow roasted pork shank.

Let me not get started with desserts! Just the thought of apple strudel is enough to make me want to pack my bags again. For sure, one of the greatest things to do in Trentino, especially after a long day of hiking, is eating all the mouthwatering food. Rifugi are typically good places to have a taste of the local specialties at very convenient prices.

And so are the drinks

I love wine – or else I wouldn’t have spent 4 days wine tasting in Stellenbosch! Trentino produces some great wines. Local grape varieties include Nosiola, Marzemino and Teroldego, but there’s also Chardonnay and Trentodoc, a local sparkling wine. If eating is one of the nicest things to do in Trentino, those who visit Trentino will have to agree that accompanying a fantastic meal with a just as fantastic wine is a must.

Trentino also has some excellent breweries. And let me not forget about grappa. I visited Distilleria Marzadro, right outside Rovereto, and truly enjoyed learning about the history of the distillery and about the way grappa is made. Grappa originally was poor people’s alcohol, made with the skins, pulp, seeds and stems that are left over when pressing the grapes for making wine. Nowadays, it is a much more sophisticated drink. Trying grappa is a must for those who visit Trentino.

things to do in Trentino

QC Terme is a great place to get some pampering, and a must for those who visit Trentino

It’s a great place to get pampered

Is there anything better than getting pampered after having hiked for one day or more? I don’t think there is! That’s why those who visit Trentino can enjoy QC Terme, a fantastic spa in Pozza di Fassa.

I spent a whole day at QC Terme, at first thinking that my active self would get bored after a couple of hours of doing nothing. I guess I was wrong, because I ended up staying the entire day (I also enjoyed lunch and a light delicious dinner there), moving from one treatment pool to another, from a sauna to a relax room, napping, chilling and enjoying the incredible views of the mountains.

You can now book a day at QC Terme online – just click here!

The atmosphere is super chilled

One of the things that make me fall in love with a place is the atmosphere. That’s why I love Tel Aviv, and why I would go back to Cape Town any time. Trentino is the kind of place where I felt I could relax completely. The vibe is very friendly, welcoming: people who visit Trentino all share a love for nature, adventure sports and good food; locals are friendly, genuine and generous – the kind of people that I can’t help but warm up to.

I am sure that these are more than enough reasons to visit Trentino in the summer, and for those who decide to do so, here’s some logistics information to organize a trip there.

things to do in Trentino

Next time I visit Trentino, I hope to stay in the gorgeous Val San Nicolò

Practical Information For Your Trip To Trentino

Where to stay and eat in Trentino

Those who visit Trentino will be happy to know that there’s an excellent range of accommodation options, as well as some fantastic restaurants. I have selected a couple of hotels in Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa that also serve dinner – though I recommend eating out for the best food!

As eating is one of the best things to do in Trentino, I recommend going to the following restaurants to enjoy food at its best:

  • Miola di Predazzo, in Predazzo, Val di Fiemme, offers some of the best traditional food in the area. I had a delicious salad with walnuts and local apples, a selection of local cold cuts which included “carne salada” (salted cured beef) and pork shank.
  • Baita Paradiso, in Val di Fassa Passo San Pellegrino can be reached from the ski-lift (Seggiovia Costabella) or after a short hike, has the best beef fillet cooked in a bread shell along with onions and pine needles; as well as the best polenta in the area (not to mention an incredible selection of wines.

How to get to Trentino

There are no international airports in Trentino. Those who visit Trentino are better off flying to Verona, which is roughly a 2 hours drive from Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa, and then rent a car to go all the way there, or get a bus to one of the many beautiful villages in the region. Other airports would be Bergamo Orio Al Serio, a budget airlines hub, or Venezia Marco Polo, which is better connected internationally.

visit Trentino

Dressing appropriately is one of the things to do in Trentino

What to pack when visiting Trentino in the summer

Those who visit Trentino in the summer should make sure to carry comfortable clothes that allow layering up, as it may be quite warm in the middle of the day, but chilly in the morning and early evenings and night. Here’s what I recommend packing:

  • A pair of hiking boots, best if water proof and with good ankle support. Also pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
  • Hiking pants, best if water repellent. My favorite pants for hiking  are the Kuhl Kliffside Convertible and I find the Kuhl Skulpt Skinny to be easy to dress up if I wear a nice top.
  • Plenty of cotton shirts. I love Kuhl Kyra and Nora Tank. I find Alva to be the top pick on colder days.
  • A sweater (I love Kuhl Lea Pullover). I also recommend taking a wind and rain proof jacket. My favorite is Kuhl W’S Airstorm Rain Jacket.
  • A small backpack for the hikes. I recommend the 20 liter Osprey Daylite Plus.
  • A flask – tap water in Trentino is really good and it’s better to drink that than keep buying bottled water and cause unnecessary waste.
  • Sunglasses to protect from the sun and the wind, and a hat.
  • Sun screen with a high protection factor, since the sun can be really strong when at an altitude.
  • A swimsuit for those moments at the spa.
  • An umbrella, as it may well rain.
  • A good camera and lens to capture the magnificent views. I have a Nikon D3300 and a 70-300 mm wide lens. I also travel with my iPhone, which takes some pretty sweet shots.

Other useful information

Remember to always get a good travel insurance. You can find a good one here.

Further readings about Trentino

If you are planning a trip to Trentino, make sure to read my other posts:

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of Visit Trentino during my trip, and I wish to thank them for showing me their incredible region. Needless to say, the views expressed in this post are my own.

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Discover why you should visit Trentino in the summer via @clautavani

Why I toured Sardinia on a tuc tuc

Why I toured Sardinia on a tuc tuc

I have always loved road trips. When I was a child, my parents would pack the car and off we’d go to explore a new place. I was fascinated by the views that opened in front of me, the sights that unfolded and the change of scenery. I loved the whole singing in the car thing, I didn’t mind getting lost and having to ask a (usually funny and welcoming) local for directions. Besides, going on a road trip is one of the top things to do in Sardinia.

Even more than that, I love Sardinia, the region where I was born and raised and which I still call home. From the cities to the smaller villages, from the beautiful beaches to the mountains, from the unique archeological sites to the festivals, not to mention the food and the wines, I will never get tired to say that Sardinia offers endless possibilities for exploration and entertainment, and should not be left out when backpacking Europe.

After getting a motorbike driving license a few years back, I considered buying or renting a motorbike just to drive it around the island. I thought of joining a group of bikers and figured that finding motorcycle parts wouldn’t be much of an issue if I ever needed them.

Cala Fighera is one of the hidden gems of Cagliari I discovered while traveling on a rickshaw

Cala Fighera is one of the hidden gems of Cagliari I discovered while traveling on a rickshaw

Eventually, that road trip around Sardinia took place – as it was obvious. What was not so obvious, on the other hand, is that I actually toured Sardinia on a tuc tuc. I rented a tuc tuc in Milan, drove to Genova (a whopping 200 km which took me the best of 7 hours to cover), did some research on how to reach Sardinia by ferry, and found a good deal, boarded one along with a bunch of cars and under the puzzled looks of other passengers, and landed in Olbia, in the north east coast of Sardinia. From Olbia to Cagliari, I drove around to discover – and in some cases re-discover – my beautiful island.

It was an exhilarating experience, in some cases tiring but always a lot of fun. Sure enough, I made lots of heads turns and laugh. Indeed, although tuc tucs may be a common thing to see in developing countries, they are not common at all in Europe, and they are mostly unseen outside of major tourist cities, where they are occasionally used as taxis.

Generali

Fooling around with our rickshaws

Discovering a lesser known Sardinia

The beauty of using a tuc tuc as a mode of transportation is that it forced me to travel slow, to truly savor the views. I had to mostly pick secondary roads, as the rickshaw does not go faster than 65 km per hour. On a few occasions, there was a line behind me – and drivers would have been angry had they not been too amused by the fact that the line was caused by a tuc tuc driven by a woman. They’d pass me, phone in hand, and take a quick shot of me then waved away.

Generali

An interesting discovery – Nuraghe Nuraddeo

Most of the time, I drove through places that were completely off the beaten path. I came across archeological sites I didn’t know existed, such as the Nuraghe Nuraddeo near the village of Suni (which by the way I had never even heard of). Or I went through areas of Sardinia that would have seemed more in place in Africa – I stopped to take pictures, thinking that at any moment a lion would walk in front of me. These places were so isolated that I had the sites and the road all to myself – the only thing that broke the silence was the wind.

Sardinia

It may look like Africa, but it actually is Sardinia

The gorgeous villages and small cities of Sardinia

Driving along secondary roads, I reached some of the most beautiful and best known villages of Sardinia. Some of them I had visited before, others I discovered for the first time. Castelsardo was just as beautiful as I had imagined, and perhaps even more. I explored the walled city, its tiny cobbled alleys where life went along at a slow pace and the locals smiled at me. I also got to some incredible view points.

Castelsardo was as beautiful as I expected it to be

Castelsardo was as beautiful as I expected it to be

Further south, on the way to Oristano, I stopped in Bosa. I had been there before, and was eager to go back. This is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, yet lesser visited than other ones in Sardinia. From the Malaspina Castle, the view of the Temo river slowly making its way towards the sea and among the colored homes was simply stunning.

The Gira

The impressive view of Bosa from the Malaspina Castle

All the scents of the Mediterranean

As the tuc tuc is completely open, I could really smell the air. It wasn’t too pleasant in the few cities I drove through (especially if it was rush hour), but it was lovely when I managed to get out. I could notice how a different smell accompanied a different view: the coastal roads smelled like the Mediterranean, with juniper, myrtle and pine trees being the predominant scents. Areas that had a high concentration of farms smelled like fertilizers (and a bit gross to be honest).

The Gira

Fooling around in the middle of nowhere Sardinia

The friendly locals

My tuc tuc got me a lot of friendly smiles. Whenever I drove through a village, people pointed at me, laughed and waved. Each time I stopped at a gas station, customers and workers alike would come close to ask me a bunch of questions: why was I traveling on a tuc tuc? How fast could it go? Was it fun? How much did it cost?

Once I even met another tuc tuc, in Costa Smeralda. I had almost lost hope in finding a parking spot in the crowded (and expensive) Capriccioli, one of the best beaches in Sardinia, and was about to leave, when I bumped into another rickshaw, practically identical to mine. The driver stopped the minute he saw me, I told him that I could not find a place to park, and he motioned me to follow him. It turned out he worked at a local resort, driving guest to and from the beach, and he let me park my tuc tuc (for free) at the private beach La Celvia. Sure enough, this wouldn’t have happened had I been driving a car!

The Gira

I ended up in the beautiful La Celvia, in Costa Smeralda

Tips for traveling around on a rickshaw

Doing a road trip on a tuc tuc is a lot of fun, but it can also be tiring and quite challenging. I advise to do it during the summer, as that’s when the weather is most reliable. I was lucky enough to never get any rain, but I know that some people who did it were note as fortunate and got soaked a few times.

Furthermore, the conditions of the road may be variable and not always ideal to drive around. Sardinian secondary roads are not very well kept, and due to the nature of the island (hills, mountains and coastal roads) driving at times was difficult.

The Gira

A beautiful sunrise in Sardinia

Knowing what to expect and being prepared for the worst is a good way to go, just in case.

Here’s a few tips for anybody who wishes to embark on this great experience.

  • Wear layers: even in the summer time, mornings and late afternoons can be chilly. The tuc tuc is completely open and it gets a lot of wind, especially on the backseat, and having a good wind and rain proof jacket is a good idea to protect against the chill.
  • Wear shoes: especially if planning to drive, wearing proper closed shoes is necessary. The break is on the right hand side, and it is maneuvered with the feet. It is important to have shoes with a good grip, just not to slip on it.
  • Wear driving gloves: it may sound cheesy, but a decent pair of driving (or even biking) gloves helps holding the handlebar and avoids getting blisters on the hands.
  • Wear sunblock and a hat or scarf around the head: if planning to take the sunroof down, make sure to wear a scarf around the neck and head and a lot of sunblock on the face. Seemingly not too strong, the sun is actually unforgiving. The last thing anybody would want is getting sunburnt while driving.
  • Carry a bike lock: there is no booth in tuc tucs, but bags can be placed on the back. The villages one drives across are so small that hardly anybody would dare steal anything, but a good lock to chain the bags to the rickshaw are a good deterrent, just in case.
  • Carry wireless speakers: there is no sound system on the tuc tuc, but music is a good company on long drives.
  • Try not to drive at night: the tuc tuc is fully equipped with lights, but even so visibility isn’t the best at night. Plan to leave early in the morning and to be at the final destination well before the sun sets.
  • Never put more than €5,00 of petrol: the tank isn’t big at all. It is better to fill up regularly than have the tank overflow and waste petrol (and money).

Finally, and most importantly, always wear the best of smiles: tuc tucs in Europe attract a lot of attention. People are curious and welcoming and a smile will surely go a long way.

Legal Disclaimer: This article was written in partnership with Generali and The Gira as part of the #viviamopositivo campaign. All the views and opinions expressed are my own and based on my personal experience. The views expressed are honest and factual without any bias.

Nine abilities we Italians have over everyone

Nine abilities we Italians have over everyone

We Italians get easily recognized wherever they travel. Whether we visit the United States, go on vacation in Cuba, venture the culturally more similar Argentina and Uruguay, people can easily spot us as Italian. Conversations soon start, appreciation shown for our beautiful country. Then, the old stereotypes kick in. However, although most of the world defines Italian by the pizza, pasta and mafia stereotype, an old national saying states “Italiani brava gente” (good people) and we’d rather think of ourselves as a country of poets, artists and sailors. Yes, there are a number of abilities Italians have over everyone.

So, here’s my list of nine abilities that Italians have over everyone:

1. We have turned a stereotype into a virtue

Since we are known for the pizza and pasta country, we have gone above and beyond our limits to create the most amazing pizza and pasta dishes. Italy is the only country where pizza is a gourmet dish and where just 3 ingredients are necessary to prepare a sophisticated pasta course. Not bad for a stereotype.

Pizza à Sorrento

In case you wonder, this is how a GOOD pizza should look like!

2. There’s nothing that a good meal can’t fix.

Whether we celebrate Christmas, a wedding or a promotion at work, we are bound to have a meal. But it won’t just be a simple lunch. It will be a 15 courses meal that will last anything between 2 to 5 hours, during each we stuff ourselves as if we are camels drinking before the longest ride through the desert. And when we feel a bit down, we indulge in some treats – a mouthwatering gelato, a delicious torrone snack, or a good spoonful of nutella. Eating is a huge part of our culture. We spend endless amount of hours shopping for the best ingredients, preparing our meals and even just talking about what we ate or what we plan to eat next.

Feeling low? EAT! Celebrating? EAT EAT!

Feeling low? EAT! Celebrating? EAT EAT!

 

3. We appreciate beauty.

Our love for beautiful things has brought us to express ourselves with some of the most incredible art, music and culture. Italian design, fashion and luxury goods are only some of the modern ways to express the artistic genius of which Leonardo, Machiavelli, Caravaggio and many others were our world ambassadors. The same goes with Pavarotti, who sang Italian opera in the world’s best opera houses.

No doubt the most beautiful city in the world to me

No doubt the most beautiful city in the world to me

 

4. We always manage to communicate.

We are not exactly masters at foreign languages. We get by with Spanish and we may know a little English, but we are so expressive and communicative that we always manage to make ourselves understood. An Italian will never get stuck for being unable to speak the local language! On the other hand, if you don’t speak Italian, you may confuse a plain and friendly conversation for a heated argument, just because of our hand gestures and our facial expressions. Nothing to worry about!

communication age

Yes, yes, I got it!

5. We are one yet many.

We manage to overcome all our differences, forget our regional rivalries and become one big family as soon as we step outside the country. But the minute we step back in, it all goes back to being very local and there is no way a Sardinian would want to be mixed up with someone from Naples or Venice.

I love travelling alone

I had to show my Sardinian pride even when I was in Chile!

6. We forget all our problems if our national football team is playing.

The financial crisis won’t get any worst just because we stop worrying about it for 90 minutes to watch a football match. And if our national team wins, we don’t mind so much that the country may be going bankrupt; there may have been a recent natural disaster for whose reconstruction the government plans yet another raise in the taxes and unemployment rates may be skyrocketing. It’s time to celebrate!

Worry later, celebrate now!

Worry later, celebrate now!

7. We always help others.

We may complain about it, we may feel we don’t have the resources for that, but we are never going to push away and turn our backs the thousands of desperate people who flee war and poverty and cross the Mediterranean in search for a better life. We are the geographic centre of the Mediterranean, but we like to think of it more as its beating heart.

8. We have a good sense of humour.

Isis threatens to attack Rome and the Vatican? We don’t really worry so much. They will never find their way through the congested traffic of the capital. And if they do, we may as well make sure that they make the most of their experience in the country and give them the best recommendations for restaurants and places to stay.

Welcome, Isis! - photo courtesy of Legal Insurrection

Welcome, Isis! – photo courtesy of Legal Insurrection

9. We take summer flings to a higher level.

We may know that it is not meant to be, we may know that there are no chances it will work, but we give each relationship our best. We don’t just pretend to be be in love. We really are.

Do you have any Italian friend? What are their funniest abilities?