Gap Year Days 70 – 75
On leaving Venice we knew we needed to head north. We had a look on the map for a place on the way, somewhere in the mountains, where we could spend a few days relaxing without doing a whole lot. Trying to find accomodation that met our requirements took a bit of searching, and in the end the place we ended up at was Trento.
We were hoping that once we got to the mountains the temperatures would drop a little. How wrong we were! Europe was in the grip of a crazy heatwave, and our first day in Trento was 36 degrees Celsius and 90% humidity. I nearly died! Okay, so I hear all the other Australians saying “Soft!” from half a world away, but remember this place is not made for heat! Trento is in a valley, just south of the Dolomites. This area is a winter playground, with snow for months over winter. Our small apartment is equipped with no less than three wall heaters and heated towel racks, but not an air conditioner in sight! If it was dry heat, maybe – just maybe – I would have coped, but the humidity had me sweating buckets! And there was no relief! It was still 32 degrees inside overnight!
Our first day was spent trying to keep cool. We barely moved. The next day we just had to get out of our apartment. We figured it was bad either way, so we may as be seeing stuff while all my bodily fluids were coming out through my pores! Simon, by the way, barely sweats, so it’s only me that leaves a puddle wherever I go!
As we wandered through the almost deserted streets, we noticed there were people setting up areas outside their bars, and big entertainment areas being set up in the piazzas. Once we realised that maybe there was something going on, a quick look around us revealed posters and other advertising about a Festival. Down another street and around a corner we came across an information booth, and grabbed a program to have a look at when we got back to our apartment.
Google Translate sort of helped out with working out what was going on during the festival, but some of the translations were unclear at best. In the end we figured we would just head out, walk around and see what we came across. The first thing was a Cosplay competition. I know this is a growing trend, and it sounds like great fun to dress up and act like a fictional character, but this seemed so SERIOUS! It is possible we got it all wrong though, since we couldn’t understand a word of what was going on.
We made our way back towards where earlier in the day we had seen a big stage being put up. The streets that were deserted earlier were now packed with people. The sidewalks were filled with stalls, selling everything from crafts to food and drinks. Every hundred metres or so there was a DJ pumping out tunes as loud as possible to compete with the next bloke just down the road. The atmosphere was electric. It reminded me a lot of Amsterdam during Kings Day, but not so much orange!
It was now about 10:30pm, and it was still really warm. The crowds did not help, so it was a nice break to sit down for a while in front of the main stage and listen first to a band, then a female singer, go through their sets. The girl was very good, but I have no idea who she was. The program on the main stage was going until 3am, so the main acts hadn’t even come on yet.
We ended up going back to our apartment a bit after midnight. Complete party poopers, I know, but that 6am morning was getting the better of me! On the way back we came across some people carving (sculpting??) wood, using chainsaws amongst other things to do so.
Our apartment was hot! But we had a dilemma. Try to sleep with the window open with the noise from the bar below loud and clear, or close the window and roast in the heat. We chose the former. I figured I was so tired I would sleep anyway, and they would stop partying at some point.
We woke the next morning to storms and pouring rain. It was still warm, but at least once the storms passed the humidity seemed to disappear too. Once the weather cleared, we decided to actually go and visit one a Trento’s attractions – the Castello del Buoconsiglio. It was just around the corner from where we were staying and a very impressive building if I do say so! Historically this was traditionally the home of the Bishop of Trento, but there have been a few other occupiers over the years. Inside were some museum rooms with various artefacts. Some had simply been donated to the museum, so had nothing to do with Trento or the castle, but others had to do with past residents and the history of the area.
We paid an extra €2 to have a guided audio tour to the Torre Aquila, a small tower room right at the end of the building. Back in the 1400’s an unknown artist painted images representing each of the months around the walls of the room. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside, but they were very well preserved and showed a lot of detail about life at the time. Well worth the money to go and have a look and listen to the audioguide.
The main part of the castle also had some lovely paintings throughout. As usual it was the ceilings that were the stars of the show. Some of the areas had great views over not only the gardens, but the city as well.
On the way out, we were able to walk through the gardens, and also have a brief peek into the jail cells created in the 1800s. They are not all that interesting, expect perhaps for some historical notes on some of the prisoners. We didn’t know who they were, but if you did know their stories, I expect there would be more interest.
We had perused the festival program, and had decided on a couple of things to have a look at in the evening. Firstly we made our way to a small laneway where a jazz band was playing. We got ourselves a Spritz each, and sat back and enjoyed the music. Our plan was to move on to another Piazza a bit later and watch some water dancing. We had no idea what that was, but thought we would find out! The jazz band finished before we had to move on, and another band started to set up. This band played something between country and rock, mostly old stuff from the 70s.
Simon and I were soon joking around that they were definitely going to sing “Country Roads” (originally by John Denver) because that sounded just like their song. It didn’t come on, and it was time to go to the water dance. Literally, as we got up to go, “Country Roads” started up. We had to stay and listen. They continued to play more good songs, we grabbed another drink, and next thing we know it’s 11pm, and the water dancing is well and truely over! Whoops! We did have a great night though.
My plan for Monday was to hit the shops. There were a couple of things I needed, and I had seen the right shops not far from us, and we didn’t have anything else to do, so off we went. We weren’t far down the road and we noticed not all of the shops were open. A bit weird, but then we started seeing hand-written notes in the windows saying they were closed for the day! Some of the bigger stores were open, but the trip ended unsuccessfully, and while we were back having our lunch we googled why the shops were shut. Sure enough, it was a public holiday – but only in Trento.
In the afternoon we visited Muse, the science museum. It was not exactly what I was expecting, it was more natural sciences, about the geography of the area, the animals, the environment. There were also sections on extinct animals and issues regarding what we should be doing in the future to stop losing so many species. There are a few interactive areas, and lots of areas that are clearly used when school groups visit. The visit starts at the terrace at the top of the building overlooking the city and the mountains, and finishes with a walk through a tropical garden. All up a nice way to spend a couple of hours, and it would be especially good to bring kids. They would love the many animal models, and the dinosaur skeletons (replicas).
As we left Muse, we went to investigate the building to the left – some sort of castle. There a display inside, and entry was free, so in we went. The lower floor was about a documentary that had been made by some local people who had moved a mob of sheep along a traditional path through the mountains. The documentary was being played in one room, and a few other rooms showed photographs that had been taken. The scenery is breathtaking, and it was amusing to see the sheep being moved through little towns.
The two upper floors had many photographs – blown up large – showing off the natural beauty of the immediate area, and then other mountains nearby. Most of them were absolutely stunning. The castle itself also still had some of the original frescoes on the walls.
We left the castle and decided to take a small detour on our way home to have a look at the Aldige River, then admire the huge statue in Piazza Dante – although we couldn’t do too much of the latter due to a whole collection of police cars around it. It didn’t seem to be a good idea to look like we were watching or taking photos of them.
We enjoyed dinner out on our last night in Italy. Pasta for mains, Spritz as our drink and gelato for dessert. I probably should have had yet another margarita pizza, but I didn’t think of it until too late.
I had just dozed off when I was suddenly woken by a huge bang! Earlier in the day I had read that there was a fireworks display at 11pm, but I had forgotten about it. I have never heard fireworks like these before. Due to being in a valley with mountains all around, the fireworks echoed and bounced from mountain to mountain. It was so loud. It also went on for half an hour. We sat watching out of our window, enjoying that Italy was putting on fireworks for us on our last night in the country.
We booked to stay in Trento as a rest stop. The preceding days in Venice and moving accommodation too often had taken their toll. We hadn’t expected to have a lot to do, and we were fine with that. The heat knocked us around for the first two days. If only we had air-conditioning! It was a great surprise to find out about the festival that was taking place, and we really enjoyed getting out and having a look at what was going on. In the end we really liked Trento. It’s a nice town, with great facilities and some decent attractions. We probably don’t need to go back again, unless it was winter, then maybe we would go here to enjoy the nearby winter attractions.
Trento was a great walkable city. We were staying quite centrally, and the furthest we went was probably 2km at most. We had no need for public transport, but often saw buses making their way through the streets, and there were trains linking the nearby towns as well as far flung cities. Trento is on the main rail link out of Italy to the north.
We found prices in Trento to be the cheapest we had come across in Italy. We mostly ate in, but when we did eat or drink out, we easily found things we thought were reasonable.
There was some wifi, but not a lot. This is not a city to rely on being able to stay in touch without purchasing data or having wifi at your accommodation.
via del Suffragio 34, 38121 Trento, Italy
€48 per night for studio apartment
Want more info on Italy? Head on over to my Italy Archives, and see everything about the six weeks we spent there.
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Josie is a forty-something budget traveller. She only discovered travel in her late thirties, but since then has travelled extensively including taking an adult gap year. She is now based in Australia and loves sharing all she has learned about travelling on a budget but with the comforts a Gen Xer requires.