Trento (local dialects: Trènt; ) is an Italian city located in the Adige River valley in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. It is the capital of Trentino (Welschtirol or Italian Tyrol). In the 16th century the city was the location of the Council of Trent.
Trento is an educational, scientific, financial and political centre in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, in Tyrol and Northern Italy in general. The University of Trento ranks highly out of Italy's top 30 colleges, coming 1st in the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research ranking, 2nd according to Censis ranking and 5th in the Il Sole 24 Ore ranking of Italian universities,. The city contains a picturesque Medieval and Renaissance historic centre, with ancient buildings such as Trento Cathedral and the Castello del Buonconsiglio.
Modern-day Trento is a cosmopolitan city, with highly-developed and organized modern social services. The city often ranks extremely highly out of all 103 Italian cities for quality of life, standard of living, and business and job opportunities, coming 1st, 6th and 2nd respectively. Trento is also one of the nation's wealthiest and most prosperous, with its province being one of the richest in Italy, although poorer than its neighbours Lombardy and South Tyrol, with a GDP per capita of €29,500 and a GDP (nominal) of €14.878 billion.
The origins of this city on the river track to Bolzano and the low Alpine passes of Brenner and the Reschen Pass over the Alps are disputed. Some scholars maintain it was a Rhaetian settlement: the Adige area was however influenced by neighbouring populations, including the (Adriatic) Veneti, the Etruscans and the Gauls (a Celtic people). According to other theories, the latter did instead found the city during the fourth century BC.
Trento was conquered by the Romans in the late 1st century BC, after several clashes with the Rhaetian tribes. Before the Romans, Trent was a Celtic village. In reality, the name derives from Trent, which is a tribute to the Celtic god of the waters (because of the river Adige). The Romans gave their settlement the name Tridentum and is a tribute to the Roman god Neptuno (Tri Dentum, meaning 'Three Teeth' because of the three hills that surround the city: the Doss Trent, Sant'Agata and San Rocco). The Latin name is the source of the adjective Tridentine. On the old townhall a Latin inscription is still visible: Montes argentum mihi dant nomenque Tridentum ("Mountains give me silver and the name of Trento"), attributed to Fra' Bartolomeo da Trento (died in 1251). Tridentum became an important stop on the Roman road that led from Verona to Innsbruck.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the independent bishopric of Trento was ruled by Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Lombards and Franks, finally becoming part of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1027, Emperor Conrad II created the Prince-Bishops of Trento, who wielded both temporal and religious powers. In the following centuries, however, the sovereignty was divided between the Bishopric of Trent and the County of Tyrol (from 1363 part of the Habsburg monarchy). Around 1200, Trento became a mining center of some significance: silver was mined from the Monte Calisio - Khalisperg, and Prince-Bishop Federico Wanga issued the first mining code of the alpine region.
A dark episode in the history of Trento was the Trent blood libel. When a three year old Christian boy, Simonino, later known as Simon of Trent, disappeared in 1475 on the eve of Good Friday, the city's small Jewish community was accused of killing him and draining his blood for Jewish ritual purposes. Eight Jews were tortured and burned at the stake, and their families forced to convert to Christianity. The bishop of Trent, Johannes Hinderbach, had Simonino canonized and published the first book printed in Trent, "Story of a Christian Child Murdered at Trent," embellished with 12 woodcuts.
During this period, and as an expression of this Humanism, Trento was also known as the site of a Jewish printing press. In 1558 Cardinal Madruzzo granted the privilege of printing Hebrew books to Joseph Ottolengo, a German rabbi. The actual printer was Jacob Marcaria, a local physician; after his death in 1562 the activity of the press of Riva di Trento ceased. Altogether thirty-four works were published in the period 1558 to 1562, most of them bearing the coat of arms of Madruzzo.
Prince-bishops ruled Trento until the Napoleonic era, when it bounced around among various states. Under the reorganization of the Holy Roman Empire in 1802, the Bishopric was secularized and annexed to the Habsburg territories. The Treaty of Pressburg in 1805 ceded Trent to Bavaria, and the Treaty of Schönbrunn four years later gave it to Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy.
The population resisted French domination with gunfights. The resistance leader was Andreas Hofer. During his youth he lived in the Italian Tyrol, where he learned the Italian language. When Hofer recovers Trento for the Austrians (1809), he is welcomed with enthusiasm by the population of Trento. Approximately 4.000 Trentinian volunteers (Sìzzeri or Schützen) died in battle against the French and Bavarian troops. In 1810 Hofer was captured and brought to Mantua, and was shot by French soldiers om express order of Napoleon.
With Napoleon's defeat in 1814, Trento was again annexed by the Habsburg Empire. The church government is finally extinguished and Trent becomes governed by the secular government of Tyrol. In the next decades Trento experienced a modernization of administration and economy with the first railroad in the Adige valley opening in 1859. D
uring the late 19th century, Trento and Trieste, cities with ethnic Italian majorities still belonging to the Austrians, became icons of the Italian irredentist movement. Benito Mussolini briefly joined the staff of a local newspaper in 1908, but he left the city because they could not create an anti-Italian group.
The nationalist cause led Italy into World War I. Damiano Chiesa and the deputy in the Austrian parliament Cesare Battisti were two well-known local irredentists who had joined the Italian army to fight against Austria-Hungary with the aim of bringing the territory of Trento into the new Kingdom of Italy. The two men were taken prisoners at the nearby southern front. They were put on trial for high treason and executed in the courtyard of Castello del Buonconsiglio.
The region was greatly affected during the war, and some of its fiercest battles were fought on the surrounding mountains. After World War I, Trento and its Italian-speaking province, along with Bolzano (Bozen) and the part of Tyrol that stretched south of the Alpine watershed (which was, in the main, German speaking), were annexed by Italy.
In 1943, Mussolini was deposed and Italy surrendered to the Allies, who had invaded southern Italy via Sicily. German troops promptly invaded northern Italy and the provinces of Trento, Belluno and South Tyrol became part of the Operation Zone of the Alpine Foothills, annexed to Greater Germany. Some German-speakers wanted revenge upon Italian-speakers living in the area, but were mostly prevented by the occupying Nazis, who still considered Mussolini head of the Italian Social Republic and wanted to preserve good relations with the Fascists. From November 1944 to April 1945, Trento was bombed as part of the so-called "Battle of the Brenner." War supplies from Germany to support the Gothic Line were for the most part routed through the rail line through the Brenner pass. Over 6,849 sorties were flown over targets from Verona to the Brenner Pass with 10,267 tons of bombs dropped. Parts of the city were hit by the Allied bombings, including the church of S. Maria Maggiore, the Church of the Annunciation and several bridges over the Adige river. In spite of the bombings, most of the medieval and renaissance town center was spared.
Starting from the 1950s the region has enjoyed prosperous growth, thanks in part to its special autonomy from the central Italian government.