A forest that conveys safety. Lakes that promise freedom. Both are worth the wait. Both are very popular with tourists. The Italian region of Trentino shows how the act of reasoning can be achieved.
Ten degrees, cloudy skies and then rain: you’d think it would be autumn in Trentino (or: the Autonomous Province of Trento) in northern Italy, just below South Tyrol. The 20,000 hectare Paneveggio – Pale di San Martino Nature Park is spread over the eastern edge of Trentino. Spruce forests spread over the chain of mountains will comfort you from the harsh weather. The Dolomites can be imagined in a foggy soup. Foreground: Volcanic rocks of the Lagorai chain. A deer in the field is watching the visitors.
Treasures of the “Violin Forest”.
According to director Vittorio Ducoli, it is this diversity that makes the Natural Park unique. There you will find everything the Alps have to offer in terms of biodiversity. You can immerse yourself in the untouched landscape on a total of 250 kilometers of hiking trails. Near the roads: fallen trees – possible nature – and Travignolo gorge. They cross the rushing river on a shaky bridge.
But what makes the natural park, founded in 1967, so special? The State Forest of Paneveggio contains the “Violin Forest”. His treasures are stored in a small hut. Wooden furniture arranged on shelves. The shape of a half-violin body is drawn on some – certainly in pencil. Violin makers from all over the world come to Trentino to select the right wood for their work of art. Spruce wood is considered “elastic, light, resistant” and therefore suitable for tools.
In addition to the forested mountainous landscape, the lakes characterize Trentino. Lake Caldonazzo and Lake Levico are located in the Valsugana valley – a few kilometers apart. The first is the largest lake in the province, located east of the capital Trento (or Trento in Italian) and has a population of over 100,000.
In summer, water sports enthusiasts flock to Lake Caldonazzo, says Cinzia Gabrieli from Trentino Marketing. At the beginning of October, it is too cold to swim or go skiing. But autumn is the time for cyclists pedaling along the banks. An easy cycle path leads part way over the footbridge over the Lago and is very enjoyable. A little tip: You can also rent an e-bike. And those who prefer to vacation in their mobile home can head to one of the campsites on Lake Caldonazzo.
Things are quieter in Lake Levico, near the spa town of Levico Terme, known for its arsenic- and iron-rich springs. The sun will rise in a short time, it will light up the waves. A gray-haired fisherman waits in his boat for a fish to bite. In the summer you can enjoy the view of the mountains while swimming, paddling or strolling along the beach.
Dry summer is hard on nature
There are no signs of climate change on the short drive to the lakes. The water is crystal clear. Emanuele Caricati, responsible for marketing Levico mineral water (known as Fiordolino in Germany), knows how things are with this precious product in Trentino. The water comes from a spring in the Trentino mountains. Due to the dry and hot summer months, the rivers there carry less water. So far, this has not affected production, says Karikati.
But if you look deeper in the Paneveggio Nature Park, you’ll see empty spaces on wooded hills. In the year A severe storm in the fall of 2018 uprooted many trees. “Nature takes time,” says Caterina Gagliano, who oversees forest management at the Natural Park. The bark beetles attack the weakened trees during hot and dry summers. But the trees are not the only ones suffering from climate change. Animals such as capercaillie that live in the natural park move to high altitudes. What about them and other animal inhabitants? The group wants to seek help in “wildlife monitoring,” Gagliano explains.
Also: Since the hurricane, people have been increasingly using mixed forest, which is more resistant than spruce monoculture. This is because the flat spruce is vulnerable to storms and has difficulty accessing groundwater during long periods of drought. Meadows and pastures in nature parks are planned to be restored to contribute to biodiversity. Another goal: to protect Pete Boks.
Valsugana shows how sustainability and tourism can be brought together. The Global Council for Sustainable Tourism (GSTC), a non-profit organization, has certified the valley. Operators, residents and tourists are made aware of the issue of environmental friendliness – for example, “plastic-free” events.
You can “take” a cow in Valsugana
The “adotta una mucca” project where you can “copy” a cow also shows how different the ideas are. The aim is for tourists to learn more about life in an Alpine hut and taste cheese made from “their” cow’s milk.
Lake Caldonazzo and Lake Levico have been awarded the “Blue Flag” by the NGO “Foundation for Environmental Education”. The seal provides bathing facilities that meet water quality and environmental management standards. These are some of the steps Trentino takes to protect its unique landscape. Therefore, the forest will continue to transmit security. So that the lakes continue to promise freedom.
Producer Sonja Schumergruber traveled to Northern Italy at the invitation of Trentino Marketing.
At Trentino, Italian efficiency meets Austrian cosiness.
Deutsche Bahn: With one change, you can travel from Passau to Bozen, the capital of South Tyrol, in seven hours. You need another hour to reach Cavalese in Trentino by minibus.
Spend the night
The Hotel Orso Grigio in Cavalese is dedicated to bears. The comfortable rooms invite you to relax. (www.hotelorsogrigio.it)
Pergin Castle: The castle hill next to Lake Levico can be climbed on foot or by bike. (www.castelpergine.it)
Stroll through Trento: the old town is full of churches, palazzi and monuments. Don’t miss: Buonconsiglio Castle.
Christmas Market at Levico Terme Spa Town: From November 19 to January 6, 2023, visitors will walk from the stand to the Habsburg Park.
Anyone interested in learning more about the inhabitants of the mountains and their habitat is in the right place at the “Muse” Science Museum in Trento (www.muse.it). Discovery and time travel await visitors there – from the highest point of the Alps to the underground. Highlight: Replicas of dinosaur skeletons.
Rifugio Capanna Passo Valles in San Martino di Castrozza: The mountain lodge convinces with its regional cuisine. (www.passovalles.com)
Pizzeria Bellambriana in Trento: The homemade pizza is delicious, with a high and soft crust. (ristoranteterramia.eu/)
Ristorante Miola in Predazzo: A somewhat remote restaurant serving Trentino specialties in a rustic atmosphere. (www.ristorantemiola.com)
Trentodoc’s sparkling wine from the heights is not to be missed on a visit to Northern Italy.