Trento/Trentino…ain't nothin' like Reno. It is a hip, little mountain town probably something like Boulder in the Seventies. Trentino is an autonomous region of Italy and Trento serves as it's political, financial, & educational center. It also served as my base camp to the Alps. Well, calling it a camp might be a bit much though I did everything to make it look and smell "campy". It was more like staying at a friend's condo in Aspen after a week of couch-surfing on the hill (not that I've done either...in the last year).
The Villa Fontana is much nicer and has a much better breakfast than most stops along the trip and still in the 40 euro range. It's also where I learned an axiom to Traveler Tip #2 (learned way back in Viareggio): if you're going to wash your clothes in the shower and/or sink of your room, make sure you have plenty of ventilation and check the weather. My room had a really cool alpine feel but the only windows that opened were the skylights and it commenced to rain as soon as I finished washing my clothes.
Despite the rain, I got out on a hike and was stunned dizzy by my surroundings...kind of a breathless realization at the perfect confluence of natural beauty, compelling history, and constructed piety, all of which contributed to my histrionics as I soberly staggered along the mighty River Adige.
I heard the monument on the hill the locals call verucca, or "the wort" (Boulder should do the same), referred to as Mausoleo Cesare something or other...so, in my undeterred ignorance, I thought it had to do with Julius Caesar or one of his misanthropic progeny (a lot more on the mausoleum and its true tribute later).
I followed the river walk and was again reminded of Boulder. Even in the rain, there were bikers...I mean the full gearheads...and runners...I mean with coaches and stopwatches. I half expected a flock of Kenyans to swoop by on a training run. I felt a little silly geared up for an Alpine trek while these competitors flashed by in their skin-tight nothingness (sorry, no pic). After a hesitant look over both shoulders from around the corners of my tightly fastened rain hood, I escaped off the path onto the campus of the Museo Della Scienze (pic#2) and it's over-water walkways leading to the Palazzo delle Albere (pic#3).
Instead of heading up one of the trails, I turned towards town and got fitted for a new pack (pic#4) for the souvenirs I'd pick up at the shops while I dodged raindrops hopping my way from awning to awning as if in a game of consumer Frogger.
Again, you could make comparisons to an international Pearl St. where the street/tree-huggers are replaced by cosmopolitan debutantes and their frustratingly chic counterparts. I pretended to belong as I powered an espresso enjoying the liveliness and warmth of the bistro watching the steam gather on the windows from the chilly rain like a breath of warmth on the cold window of history.
The espresso powered me out into the rain and the Piazza Duomo with it's fountain of Neptune (above). I could fill an introductory textbook-sized tome full of images of Neptune from the trip whereas images of Zeus could fit on an index card--it's not all good being the king but I wouldn't mind giving it a shot. The Mausoleo Cesare Battisti (as I'd discovered its proper name) was my beacon towards the Tyrolean fare served up at a 10% discount around the corner from my villa at the Hotel Everest. You'll hear more about the story of Cesare Battisti on my climb to the monument as he came to personify the duality of existence thrust upon the inhabitants of the Alps and in the process he became my ghost-hero of this region...Leopold Bloom, alpinist.
On this night, though, my first authentic Tyrolean meal outside of Ben Lomond was an imaginative, yet substantive vat of macaroni with some sort of sausage-fied meat...much to the concern of the entire kitchen staff, I was unable to find room for a primary dish. I was happy to find my way back the 1 1/2 blocks to my room and a night of Tyrolean dreams and drooling streams.
(see Innsbruck interlude)
Final Day in Trento/Trentino:
Editorial correction: Again, said pseudo-author spent so much time playing with words that one sentence got completely warped. The vat of macaroni was an "un-imaginative" order with some kind of sassified meat. "Sassage" being the author's super-hip way of saying sausage which is a far too bourgeois pronunciation for the cutting-edge cosmopolitanity of his authorial consciousness. Whatever…he shoveled chili-mac into his face.
Una più momento in Trento…it was the first time on the entire trip where I thought "shit!" I wish I had more time but Como beckoned before my return to Milan. The last day in the Alps had me figuratively stuck on Conundrum Peak contemplating Castle (in the parlance of Colorado 14'ers). Either I get back on the train to Bolzen/Bolzano, then take a regional bus to another regional bus to an alpine lift to reach the meadows of mystique amongst the Dolomites or, I simply lace up my Merrells and explore the medieval villages and monuments outside my door. Needless to say, I'll be going back to explore the Dolomites.
The weather finally broke and the sun was reflecting off the River Adige creating that fun hippie-sunshiney type of day…of course, in a matter of minutes I was lost and found myself apprehensively ascending a metal staircase, like a fire escape, only bolted to the side of "the wart". Nice image…luckily there were no hairs on the hillside but I began feeling a little attitudinal and wondered what happened to the kid that used to rock the ski lift back and forth trying to get the other kids to scream.
Now, I was looking anywhere but down (which was hard considering the magnificent view) and was thankful to get to the park at the top which formed an unfinished acropolis between the former Austrian barracks that served as the Museo Storico della Truppe Alpine (next pic) and the Mausoleum of Cesare Battisti—an acrimonious acropolis, as it were.
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The park was peaceful and the trails had beautiful views of the city and surrounding vineyards, mountains and farmland. I found a bench and took my last breath of California kind with a week to go and wonderful memories already percolating, only suppressed by my eagerness to accumulate more. A service road certainly lived up to it's name as it took me back with very limited exposure temporarily retaining my composure.
Back at the Piazzale Divisioni Alpine, I rotated the map in circles like a lock that will click with the right combination. The steep road was found and wound through vineyards and narrow alleyways around driveways and through vine-covered switchbacks like trespassing on sacred grounds…recalling school trips to Cahokia Mounds.
At the top of the second mountain of the day stood the Punto Panoramico and my date with destiny: the alpine tram. I leaned over the edge gazing from the precipice down to the river 600 meters below, cable lines swinging in the wind, thinking "payback." All those kids on the chair lift getting back at me. A very mature decision came to me…I needed more exercise. Can't take the tram, 3 hours and 2000+ft were definitely not near enough exercise when my only other option was taking this free fall in a tin can.
Ironically, it was a couple of kids who brought me to my senses. As I humbly dragged my feet across the parking lot away from the tram, I noticed a couple of care-free students heading for the ticket counter. These kids get to take the tram to and from school every day…how cool! Can I ride? The kid in me took over and my first tram ride in the Alps was uneventful but beautiful and when my feet were back on terra firma I was already anticipating my Tyrolean fare for the evening.
As I wandered the streets salivating, waiting for the bewitching hour when the restaurant would open it's gold and mahogany doors and deliver me to the warm embrace of deliciousness, I came across the castle (view from mausoleum) where Cesare Battisti met his end (pic6-never a good thing).
Nerdy aside: Cesare Battisti (as I push my spectacles up to the bridge of my nose) was born right here in Trento in 1875 when it was part of Austria. He went to university in Florence and fell in with the Italian irredentista crowd (I know, every parent's worst nightmare) which meant to unify Italy and include Trento and other Tyrol lands. He was a student of geography among other concentrations and was thus useful to the Italian troops. His thesis was entitled Trentino: An essay of Physical Geography and Anthropo-Geography. When they entered World War I he was captured by Austrian troops and hung as a traitor (there's a grisly execution picture on-line complete with smiling executioners). Immediately the town of Trento moved to establish a monument in his name. It's like hanging the hometown hero from the rafters of the gym and then naming it after him…people do strange things in the name of politics. His last words to his sons were to care for the womenfolk and not to worry about him: "I've accomplished much and lived a full life in my forty-one years"…if only I could say the same.
The Castello del Buonconsiglio houses a cornucopia of collections from ancient Egypt (actual mummified body parts) through the Renaissance and up to the 20th Century. Completely worth the visit just to feel the goosebumps as you pace in the cell where he stood awaiting death and a much more resonant destiny than a ride on a tram. It was food for thought when all I thought was food.
I had lunched on spreck and brie sandwiches that were crust-less pieces of white bread rolled with aforesaid ingredients…gooey, salty goodness. Dinner at the Hotel Everest was not the quiet affair of my first night. They seated me in a room next to a table of 14 "alpiners"--German translation: "drinkers"--and apologetically presented me a complimentary appetizer of raw beef and a carafe of vino rosso. Guttural gurgles of gusto from the table next to me escalated in syncopation with my stomach as I started with the Insalada Trentino which, among other things, consisted of cabbage, carrots, grana, cured meat, arugula, walnuts and artichoke, all in a seemingly bottomless bowl…mmm, bottomless bowl. Next course was the Spatzle al Tyrol…spinach noodles in a cream sauce with little sprinkly things of cured meat..here I began to time myself and after 35 minutes of continuous chewing I made a sweaty surrender to the server (a truly bottomless dish) and accepted the final course of river salmon splashed in white wine and couldn't help but think: "Just one more mint. It's wuafer thin!"
A satiated arrivederci to the Tyrolean Alps!