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Castel Beseno is one of five major castles near Trento, Italy. While each of them have their own appeal, Castel Beseno is perhaps the most picturesque. During my trip to Trentino for Traverse 19, I visited Castel Beseno on a day trip from Trento.
A visit to Castel Beseno
How to get to Castel Beseno
Castel Beseno (Official Site) is easy to get to from Trento. If you’re driving, it’s about a 20 minute drive down Via Statale 12. If you’re using public transportation, take bus B301 Riva del Garda (which itself is a nice day trip) to Besenello. You can purchase bus tickets for the Trentino region through the OpenMove app. Google Maps might suggest that you ride the bus a bit further than Besenello, but put in the Castel Beseno car park for the location, as that walk appears to be shorter. The buses run every 45 minutes or so, and the ride to Besenello takes about 30 minutes. Besenello itself is a cute, quiet, little town. It’s mostly nice for taking a few photographs, but there are a few shops and restaurants.
Once you’re at Besenello, it’s about a 30 minute uphill walk to Beseno Castle. The walk is fairly steep, however it’s mostly shaded. For the most part, it is also along separate paths from the road, though there isn’t much traffic.
Eventually, you’ll reach a car park with a path leading up to the castle. The walk back is much faster since it’s downhill, plus there’s also the prospect of gelato calling out to you back in Besenello.
The history of Castel Beseno
There are plenty of informational signs around the grounds of Castel Beseno. Inside one of the central buildings, there is also a 10 minute video in Italian, English, & German. It provides a nice background of the castle through the years.
Castel Beseno is the largest non-earthen fortified castle in Trentino. Its heyday was back in the 15th century due to the close proximity of the Republic of Venice. The current buildings mostly date back to the 16th century, when the Trapp family first rebuilt the castle following a fire in 1515. The original fortifications date back to 1171, or possibly 1160, with a castle first being built in 1190.
As you walk through the six fortified gates to get to the very center of the grounds, you can still see parts of the original 14th century walls that ringed the inner buildings.
Although the Trapp family owned Beseno Castle from 1470 to 1973, it was abandoned in 1794. The castle was then destroyed during wars over the next couple of centuries. Finally, ownership was transferred to the Trentino region in the 1970s. In 1974, work started to restore the castle to its former glory, with it finally reopening in 1988. Looking at photos of what the state of the castle was before restoration & comparing it to now, the region did an outstanding job of making Castle Beseno a remarkable landmark once again.
Things to see & do at Castel Beseno
The Castel Beseno property is quite expansive, so you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring the various buildings & courtyards. Even during the summer tourist season, it’s still quiet, at least on a weekday.
During summer months, the weather in Trentino can be hot. Thanks to being on a pinnacle, Castel Beseno is treated to cooling breezes, so it’s surprisingly pleasant to walk around. Between the outer grounds and the walks along the upper walls, beautiful sights are abundant.
As you enter the first gate (where you pay the admission fee), the space opens up to a surprisingly large field. This was the tournament field, where military training once took place. Today, part of it is a play area where children can pretend to be knights protecting Beseno Castle.
Heading further up the hill, you’ll next reach the Dark Gate. This series of defensive gates that protected the castle while also obscuring views inside.
Just inside these gates, you can first climb up to the north bastion. While the route is split into sections, requiring you to ascend and descend staircases a few times to see them all, it’s possible to walk along many of the perimeter walls of Castel Beseno.
All around every wall of the castle, there are holes that provided observation points for defense. Now, those windows give visitors great views. As you might expect from its perch on the top of a rocky crag, the panoramas across the surrounding Adige & Rio Cavallo valleys are stunning.
Toward the north, you can see sweeping views toward Trento & Besenello.
To the south and west, it’s more of the same as you look toward Lake Garda, just out of distance behind the hills.
To the east, vineyards creep through hazy verdant valleys up into the nearby mountains.
Nearly all of the interior buildings of the castle are open for public viewing, each with a different theme. There are armory rooms featuring weapons & armor from throughout the heyday of the castle, as well as kitchens, cellars, art, and other exhibits.
If the idea of kitchens & cellars has you hungry or thirsty, or if you’d just like a relaxing break while at Beseno Castle, there’s a nice little cafe in the center of the grounds.
The menu isn’t large, but they have toasties, sandwiches, and ice cream, along with local Trentino craft beer from nearby Birrificio Plotegher. All castles should serve local craft beer. There is also a restaurant at the castle parking lot, if you’re looking for something more substantial.
As you explore Castel Beseno, you’ll find yourself expecting to have reached the end, only to keep finding more and more towers & walls.
It may have taken years, but the restoration job done at Castel Beseno transformed it into one of the highlights of the Trentino region. Between the painstakingly rebuilt walls & buildings, & the detailed information at the exhibitions within, Castel Beseno is a nice day trip from Trento for anyone who is interested in Italian history & architecture.
More tours around the Trentino region:
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Last updated on December 28, 2019