Just three hours from Venice by train, and a short hop from Verona, TRENTO makes a good base for exploring the southern reaches of the region, not least because of its bus services into the Dolomites. Overshadowed by Monte Bedone just 13km away, the town is beautifully situated, encircled by mountains and exuding an easy-going pace of life. Visitors inevitably gravitate to the central, café-lined Piazza del Duomo, all fading frescoes and cobblestones, with fashionable shops, boutiques and restaurants occupying the narrow streets that lead off it. Mammoth, moss-covered city walls lurk beyond.
Trento was known as Tridentum to the Romans, a name celebrated by the eighteenth-century Neptune fountain in the central Piazza del Duomo. From the tenth to the eighteenth centuries, the city was a powerful bishopric ruled by a dynasty of princes; it was the venue of the Council of Trent between 1545 and 1563, when the Catholic Church, threatened by the Reformation in northern Europe, met to plan its counterattack. Later, throughout the nineteenth century, ownership of the city, which remained in Austrian hands, was hotly contested, and it only became properly part of Italy in 1919, following World War I.