How many languages are spoken in Trentino?

Ladin, Mòcheno, Cimbrian: living testaments to ancient mountain culture

But do they speak German in Trentino? Many ask themselves this question when they think of our province. The answer would be “not exactly” as the vast majority of the locals are Italian native speakers. The German language, for both historical and geographical reasons is indeed studied at school as a second language, alongside English, but one thing’s for certain, if you stop at a bar you will be greeted with a very Italian “Buongiorno”.

It is true, however, that in Trentino you can hear different languages being spoken, often unheard of by first-time visitors. These are the languages of the linguistic minorities scattered throughout the territory. First of all we have the Ladin language, derived from vulgar Latin, which can be found, with its geographical variants, from Switzerland to Sudtirol and also in Trentino, where it’s spoken in the Val di Fassa.

Then there are two linguistic minorities of Germanic derivation, present in Trentino since at least the Middle Ages, according to the migration routes of the time. These are the Cimbrian and Mòcheno languages spoken by populations whose ancestors arrived here in search of land or to work as “canopi”, as miners were once called.

In Trentino, hints of these ancient languages and cultures can be found in many places. Here we present just a few.


The Ladin de Fascia museum

A modern and innovative museum centred around the history of one of the most fascinating populations of the Alps: the Ladins. Opened in 2001, it houses the ethnographic collections of the Ladin Cultural Institute, the result of 20 years of dedicated research on Ladin culture. Multimedia aids, information points and charts by the illustrator Milo Manara will help you understand the ancient culture of these people.


The "Haus von prükk" historic house

The best way to learn about a people is to experience their daily lives. For this reason, if you want to delve into the heart of Cimbrian culture, just come to Lusern and visit this house museum, a renovated household that has maintained unaltered the essence of a Cimbrian country dwelling from the 19th century. A dip into the past.


The Filzerhof and the De Mil mill

Ever wondered what life on an old Mòcheno farm was like? The Maso Filzerhof farmstead, acquired by the Mòcheno Cultural Institute, has been renovated and refurbished in exquisite detail and with an eye to tradition with cellars, stables, a pig sty, farmyard, granary and barn. You can also stop in Roveda to visit the Da Mil, where rye, wheat, barley and oats were once milled.


The Trentino Folklife Museum

If you’re just passing through and don’t have time to take the tour of the linguistic minorities, we suggest you stop and visit this museum in San Michele all’Adige, not far from Trento. The Trentino folklife museum, (“Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina” in Italian) is a true compendium of this territory’s entire culture with a special exhibit on the local carnivals. It’s a must if you wish to get acquainted with our culture.

Published on 06/06/2023