To Rovereto, a treasure trove of art which you can visit without using a car
Two days in the city of Depero, visiting museums, castles and eating in osterie (taverns)
Where shall we go this weekend? If you’re asking yourself the same question and you want to treat yourself to a culture-rich weekend and be mesmerised by art and gourmet cuisine – perhaps with a touch of romance – then Rovereto is just perfect for you.
Less than half an hour from Trento, this elegant town, in the heart of the Vallagarina, is a beacon for people who love art and good living. Here you find the MART, one of the most important museums of contemporary art in Italy, and it is here that Fortunato Depero, the great master of Italian Futurism, lived.
And then there are the castle, the typical osterie, the exquisite gourmet cuisine of the Michelin-starred chef Alfio Ghezzi and the small shops in the city centre: all within easy reach, as they can be reached on foot from the railway station. Yes, because Rovereto is very well connected by rail. That’s why you can leave your car at home and enjoy the city on foot, discovering it slowly, with a carefree bohemian spirit and dandy-style elegance.
Here is our proposal!
Where is it?
3 things to see (or do ... it depends on the weekend you are visiting the city):
Mart (Contemporary and Modern Art Museum of Trento and Rovereto)
Castello di Rovereto
Families with children
- A car free weekend
Saturday morning at the Mart
Your first stop should certainly be the MART. The Contemporary and Modern Art Museum of Trento and Rovereto is a 15-minute walk from the railway station. The city is on level ground, so it is not at all difficult to walk around.
As soon as you arrive at the MART, before entering, stop and admire the square in front of the entrance and the dome, designed by celebrity architect Mario Botta.
During the year, the museum hosts important temporary exhibitions, but also boasts a large collection of works of art, encompassing 150 years of art history. From Francesco Hayez’s marvellous Venus to the mysterious town square painting by De Chirico. The museum’s strong point is its rich Futurism section, with works by Umberto Boccioni, Fortunato Depero, Carlo Carrà, Felice Casorati and Mario Sironi.
It will take you a couple of hours to visit the MART properly, so I would say that at the end of the exhibition trail, you could already be thinking about what to do at lunchtime.
Where to stop for lunch
The trendiest proposal is the Alfio Ghezzi Bistrot, the MART’s Cafè & Restaurant, run by the Michelin-starred chef. From 9 am to 7 pm there is a bistrot service, with quick dishes and a simpler menu than the one proposed in the evening from 7 pm onwards, when the atmosphere becomes more romantic and exclusive. Here art and haute cuisine merge… in all senses, as Ghezzi’s dishes are inspired by the works exhibited in the museum.
However, if you want to try the restaurant another time, you can stop at the Osteria del Pettirosso, a five-minute walk from the museum. Here you will find traditional dishes and a rich wine list in a well-furnished, tavern-style, relaxing environment.
If you prefer pizza, right in front of the museum is El Raminel, where you can choose between pizzas prepared with different doughs, ranging from the classic sourdough to whole wheat dough and wheatgrass dough.
Saturday afternoon at the Casa Depero
After your meal, you're ready to continue exploring the city. If your visit to the MART has aroused your curiosity about Futurist art, the next stop will allow you to deepen your knowledge of one of the greatest artists of this all-Italian art movement. Rovereto is in fact the town of Fortunato Depero. You will have held one of his works of art in your hands at least once in your life: the small Campari Soda bottle! Yes, because Depero, besides painting, creating tapestries and sculptures, also worked in the advertising and design world.
In Rovereto, he founded the Casa d’Arte Futurista Fortunato Depero, the only museum in Italy dedicated to Futurism. It is part of the MART and, besides the objects donated by the artist (paintings, sculptures, tapestries, but also furniture and toys), the museum hosts small temporary exhibitions.
After visiting the MART, you still have time to stroll about the old town to have a look at the shops. As a last glimpse of Depero and Futurism, we recommend you stop at the historic cappelleria Bacca (hat shop). Guess who created the two caryatids that adorn the entrance?
If you want to stop for a sweet break, try the Pasticceria Zaffiro, which is famous for its pastries, or the Cherry e Storie di Latte ice cream shops in the old town. If it is a nice day and you don’t mind walking, there is also the Zenzero ice cream shop about half an hour away. Although you must walk a short distance, the ice cream is excellent and from here you have a romantic view of the river Adige.
And what about dinner?
As the Campana dei Caduti (the World War I Memorial Bell) is tolled 100 times at sunset, you are ready for a romantic dinner.
In the centre of Rovereto the ristorante Novecento is famous for its tortelli di zucca (pumpkin-filled egg pasta), strangolapreti alla trentina (small dumplings made with chard, stale bread etc. dressed with butter and sage) and orzetto (slow-cooked pearl barley), in an unusual fusion of Trentino and Mantuan cuisine.
Some advice to close the evening
If it’s a nice evening when you leave the restaurant, you may not want to go back to your hotel immediately. Rovereto is obviously not New York, but the city also has some interesting places for an after-dinner drink.
Loco’s, an “art & music bar” where you can enjoy excellent cocktails and top-quality gin tonic, is very popular with the locals. Otherwise, La Crypta, a cosy venue that is famous for its alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails, is an excellent alternative.
If you prefer a good glass of wine to a cocktail, you should know that Rovereto (and the Vallagarina) are home to Marzemino, a full-bodied red wine, mentioned by Mozart in his Don Giovanni.
Sunday morning at the castle
After having breakfast with a coffee, a glass of apple juice and a slice of fruit tart, you are ready for a walk to the Rovereto Castle. It is on a hill overlooking the old town and you have certainly already seen it when walking around the city centre.
It is a real fortress, which played a leading role both in the Middle Ages (from the 13th to the 16th century) and in the First World War, when it was turned into barracks for the Austro-Hungarian troops.
Today it houses the Museo Italiano della Grande Guerra (Italian War History Museum), a point of reference for those who want to understand what it meant fighting in a trench war. You will see weapons, uniforms, posters, and artefacts from the war, including a Nieuport-Macchi 10 aircraft used for military training in 1918.
There is also a rich, interesting section dedicated to the Napoleonic age, the Risorgimento and the weapons of the modern era (16th-17th century).
It takes a few hours to visit the museum, also considering that in many periods of the year it hosts temporary exhibitions that will certainly encourage you to stay a little longer.
When you leave the museum, it will probably already be lunch time. Two minutes from the museum is a very special place, “Il Doge”. This elegant restaurant is situated in the ancient crypts of the Chiesa del Redentore (Church of the Redeemer), featuring vaulted arches and unplastered stone walls. Here you can enjoy typical Trentino dishes prepared with day-fresh ingredients.
If you still have a few free hours before catching the train, you can pay a short visit to Palazzo Sichardt. This 18th century building, perfectly restored, now houses the Museum of the City of Rovereto.
Certainly, however, you cannot leave Rovereto without having an espresso from the Bontadi café. Their blends come from all over the world, and they are superb when paired with one of the home-made pastries. The sweetest way to greet Rovereto!