Skiing, ice music and sparkly wine: Here’s why you should spend winter in Trentino

The northern region of Italy is surrounded by the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The northern region of Italy is surrounded by the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   -   Copyright  Marco Mantione
By Giulia Carbonaro

Right in the heart of the Italian Alps, as the first snow starts falling after an unusually warm autumn, Trentino turns into a perfect winter wonderland.

Surrounded by majestic Alpine peaks, kilometres of lush forest (over 30 per cent of the northern Italian region is covered in trees) and 297 lakes, Trentino looks like a scene from a Christmas card. The elegant alpine region combines the magnificence of its natural landscape with the cosiness and warmth of its mountain huts.

Where should I go in Trentino?

"The winter season is about to begin", says Elisabetta Gutterer, Media PR Team Manager at Trentino Marketing.

"We had the first snowfall a couple of weekends ago, and the ski season will start as early as the 26 November, gradually leading to a complete opening by the 11 December".

With 800 kilometres of ski runs, Trentino is a dream destination if you're hoping to hit the slopes this season.

If you're looking for the best places to ski while also being surrounded by the beauty of Trentino's landscapes, go no further than Val di Fiemme, Val di Fassa and Madonna di Campiglio, some of the most famous ski destinations in the region.

Marco Mantione
Trentino boasts 800 kilometres of perfect slopes for skiers of all levels and skills.Marco Mantione

Val di Non is probably one of the best places to immerse yourself in Trentino's natural beauty without necessarily having to strap your ski boots on (though there are ski slopes here too). Located in northwest Trentino, Val di Non is a perfect rural getaway, with castles, apple trees and plenty of cycling paths and hiking routes.

What can I do in Trentino if I don't ski?

Trentino is definitely not just for skiers.

"You don't have to be a skier to enjoy a holiday in the snow. There are many unique experiences in store, whether it's a sledding ride in the forest or a gentle snowshoe hike to reach a gourmet mountain restaurant. You're spoilt for choice", says Gutterer.

Away from the slopes, the region's towns light up every year with Christmas markets, which traditionally start in the last week of November.

Trento, the biggest city in the region, holds two Christmas markets, one of which is in its historic centre - offering visitors the chance to combine wintry activities with a visit to the city's Buonconsiglio Castle and its impressive towers.

Marco Mantione
The night landscape of Trentino at 1,800 metres of altitude.Marco Mantione

Every year Trentino is also home to one of the most unique events in the world, the Ice Music Festival. The festival boasts a series of concerts held in a theatre-igloo 2,600 metres above the Presena glacier, during which internationally renowned musicians perform using instruments made of ice.

If that's not magical enough for you, you can also take a moonlit walk in the snowy forest in Campiglio, accompanied by a guide, or go dog-sledding in Val di Sole on a sled pulled by huskies. And if you're willing to wake up early, you can climb Mount Maggio, in the Alpe Cimbra, at dawn just to reward yourself with a well-deserved breakfast at high-altitude.

More ideas for extraordinary experiences are available at Trentino tourism website.

Marco Mantione
A horse-drawn sleigh ride is probably the most romantic way to discover Trentino's landscapes in winter.Marco Mantione

What should I eat in Trentino?

"Surrounded by the enchanting landscapes of the Dolomites, skiers and tourists can round off their day on the mountains with the best local flavours", says Gutterer.

"You'll find a gourmet welcome in the mountain huts, where you can warm up with a local speciality and a good glass of wine. And many of these places are also open in the evening, and they can be reached by Snowcat for a unique lunch or dinner experience, or you can just snowshoe there, maybe by moonlight. Or, you know, why not enjoy an 'aperitivo' at sunset on a horse-drawn sledge."

Once at the crossroads between Italy and the Germanic countries, Trentino's traditional food is a combination of Italian, German and Austrian gastronomy, offering the best of both worlds.

Speck - a kind of smoked salami - is a must-try in Trentino if you are a meat-eater, and something that would likely accompany dishes like "canederli", the Italian version of the German "Knoedelns", bread dumplings.

Trentino also offers various pasta dishes and quality olive oil, as Trentino harvest around 1,500 tons of olives per year and around 250 tons of oil is produced in the region.

Like polenta, another dish which you're likely to find in Trentino's restaurants (and which tastes even better after a day of skiing or hiking, "canederli" are often served with sausages, tomato sauce or mushrooms.

Trentino is also known for its apples, as it's Italy's biggest apple producer. Whether in a strudel or by itself, make sure you try one of the best apples the country has to offer. You can also take a walk through the apple orchards, but this is probably an activity more suited to spring, when the trees blossom.

Trentino Tourism
Trentino's cuisine is influenced by a combination of the best Italian, German and Austrian food.Trentino Tourism

During wintertime, you should try Trentino's most iconic dessert, the "zelten", a fruitcake made with nuts and candied fruits which is typically made for Christmas.

The region also makes fantastic wines, including some produced at high altitudes among the mountains. Among the most well-beloved are the sparkling wines, especially Trentodoc - the perfect way to wrap up a day in Italy's Dolomites.