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The town of Rovereto is 20 kilometres south of Trento, in the southern part of the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy. The town is overlooked by a castle, the main highlight of your visit to Rovereto, and also has a pleasant town centre to explore, since Rovereto still retains many parts dating back to the Middle Ages and the 19th century.
History of Rovereto
Your visit will be enhanced by some background knowledge of Rovereto's long history, which dates back to the time of the Ancient Romans. It was during the Roman Age, in the place where the castle now stands, that a Roman outpost was established to control the road that led to the Brenner and the important trade route from Central Europe to the Mediterranean Sea.
Later, in the Middle Ages, the Castle was a fiefdom belonging to the great Lords from Lizzana who ruled the surrounding territory. An important turning point in the history of Rovereto began with the Venetian Dominion in 1411, because the city, in addition to be an important military base, was transformed into a centre of commerce.
The modern history of Rovereto also begins around its castle, which medieval documents refer to as a fortified city. The castle was developed by the Venetians in the 15th century because it was a strategic point for the control of the Leno and Adige river Valleys. Around 1510, Rovereto became a dominion of the Habsburgs.
Between the 18th and 19th century, Rovereto went through a great transition and became a prominent cultural centre, as you can see by the noble palaces in the town which remain from this period of prosperity, and also a leading industrial town based on wool and cotton-mills. More recently Rovereto was highly affected by the events of World War I and became annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1918.
Begin your visit to Rovereto on Via della Terra in Piazza San Marco, and along the road towards Piazza del Podestà. On the way, you can admire the architectural structure of the medieval village that stands at the foot of the Castle, and the mighty structure of the two boundary walls.
You can also visit the 15th century Church of San Marco and the Palazzo Municipale, a magnificent building inspired by typical Venetian architecture and rich in art and frescoes.
An essential destination for art lovers before reaching the Castle is the Deperos Museum where you can see paintings by some famous Futurist painters such as Fortunato Depero.
Next you can enter into the beautiful and impressive Castle,. It has an imposing polygonal structure, with the foundations of the walls leaning against the rocks of the Leno.
During your visit to the Castle you also have the chance to see the Historical Museum of the War [Museo Storico della Guerra] that has collected an extraordinary amount of objects and documents relating to World War I.
Outside the castle walls there is the medieval city, very rich in Palaces and reflecting various architectural trends from the 17th to 19th centuries - from the Baroque to the Neo-classical and Liberty style. The medieval village of Saint-Thomas around the castle is separated from it by the Leno torrent - the inhabitants of the village entered into the fortress via the Forbato Bridge.
Saint Thomas still retains the typical characteristics of a medieval village and you can also admire this picturesque village from the mighty Castle overlooking the valley with the village roofs crowding together around the narrow roads and squares.
Other sights within Rovereto
To continue your explorations we suggest you start from Vicolo dei Tintori, then continue along Via Dante and through Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza del Podestà. On the way, you can see various artefacts and interesting buildings and also the beautiful baroque church called "The Suffragio".
To admire the ancient noble palaces follow the road that leads from Piazza Rosmini to the Corso Bettini, on which there are magnificent 18th century palaces with parks and gardens, such as those which are now home to the Civic Library [Biblioteca Civica] and the Zandonais Theatre [Teatro Zandonai].
The 19th century architecture in Rovereto is represented by the Palazzos that run from Piazza Rosmini to the railway station. Here you can admire the Balista Palace and also the Civic Museum, which holdes various artistic and archaeological artefacts.
Places to visit near Rovereto
On a hill two kilometres away from Rovereto centre is the Sacrario di Castel Dante ("Shrine of Castel Dante"), which contains the mortal remains of the fallen from World War I of various nationalities. Nearby you can also see the ruins of the ancient Castle of Lizzana.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Trentino-Alto Adige guide.