Curiosity, a tonic for the mind
Archaeology-themed walks in historic natural settings
Travel opens the mind, as you explore new places steeped in mystery, places that guard the secrets of the far-off historical past. Trentino has been inhabited since time immemorial, and there are numerous archaeological finds to prove it. From prehistory to the Iron Age and from the Roman era to the Dark Ages, a string of intriguing places awaits for you to discover and to learn about the people who once lived here. Many archaeological sites are open all year round, with easy walks for all the family to enjoy.
The stilt houses of Fiavé
Along with those in Ledro and elsewhere in the Alps, the stilt houses of Fiavé are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What makes the archaeology special at Fiavé is the exceptional quality and age of the artefacts. The wooden bowls, work tools and kitchen utensils are perfectly preserved after 4000 years in moist peat. To appreciate the site properly, take a relaxed walk around on the level ground. Imagine our ancestors building their straw-roofed huts made of logs and branches on platforms held up on wooden stilts thrust into the peaty ground. Archaeologists believe that Fiavé was home to quite a large community, around 100-strong, living in forty such structures.
The ancient metalworkers
Redebus Pass, a woodland link between the Piné plateau and the Mocheni valley, 1400 m up in the mountains, is home to the archaeological site of Acqua Fredda. This was an important foundry dating back to the late Bronze Age (13th–11th centuries bc). Sadly, the surrounding countryside is still scarred by the devastating Storm Vaia of October 2018, but the pass still makes a great starting point for exploring towards Dosso di Costalta.
Here, archaeologists have found several kilns for smelting copper, along with other tools used to work it – like the stones that ground the mineral to a coarse powder, and the ends of the bellows that kept the temperature at around 1200 °C. The site is open to the public and can be visited all year round. The information boards show exactly how the kilns worked and how our Bronze Age forebears would have lived.
San Martino ai Campi, Tenno
This easy forest walk is one of the hidden gems at the Trentino end of Lake Garda. It leads, via a series of strange wayside figures carved in wood, to the site of San Martino ai Campi (St Martin in the Fields) near Tenno, above Riva del Garda. Archaeologists have discovered a pre-Roman place of worship (3rd–1st centuries bc) that gave way to a Roman sanctuary in the mid 1st century bc, which stood here until the 4th century ad, with the addition of a monumental staircase. The excavations cover a wide area, and it really is a lovely spot, with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. A few minutes further on, you happen upon the remains of a village from the Dark Ages, abandoned in the 8th century after a fire. The walk concludes with a pleasant stretch through a characterful chestnut wood.
Mount San Martino: Lundo, on the Lomaso plateau
The archaeological site at Mount San Martino in the Lomaso area guards the remains of a large and impressive Roman fort. Until a few years ago, it was submerged amid the greenery on a rocky spur between the Alto Garda and the Giudicarie.
The structure defended the ancient roads linking the central Alps with the Gardesana area and the Po valley further south. It was also used by the invaders who moved in after the fall of the Roman empire – Goths and Byzantines, Lombards and Franks – before lying forgotten for many centuries.
Today, the climb up through age-old beech woods makes a fine walk, crowned with stunning uninterrupted views from the summit (980 m).
Mount San Martino can be reached in about an hour on foot from the village of Lundo through woodland roads and paths.