By sylvie | April 27, 2013
So you’ve made it all the way to the capital of the Trentino region: benvenutto, willkomen, welcome! Yes, your chances of being understood are better if you speak German than if you speak English, even at the tourist bureau.
But we’re not here to talk about language, we’re here to discuss how to get around in Trento, and if you stay around the historic downtown area, it should be quite easy.
Trento was built along the Adige river, which at this point in its course is roughly oriented north-south, which is also true of the city.
When you exit the train station, you will first come across the taxi stand. You are now facing east. A grom eats you. No, wait. I mean, to your right is the south and the historic downtown area of Trento, to your left is the north and suburbs. If you pass the taxi stand, you’ll come to the major city bus stop; many (but not all) of the buses that leave from here are going south. If you need to go north, you will have to pass through the park in front of you, the one with the giant statue dedicated to Dante, and cross the street. The park is called Piazza Dante; remember this, it will be very useful to you if you need to orient yourself in the buses or are taking the bus back to the train station.
There are several big hotels literally within walking distance of the train station (e.g., Buonconsiglio, American), so if you are staying at one of those, don’t bother getting a taxi, unless you are weighed down with 12 pieces of luggage.
Bus tickets are alas not available on the buses in Trento. You will need to buy your ticket either from a tabaccheria (where they sell magazines, newspapers, and, of course, cigarettes) or at the main bus station. When you exit the train station, if you turn right and walk a bit, you will come to a large building in which you will find the bus station. According to the Trentino Trasporti website, a single ticket (biglietto) will cost you 90 cents, while a packet of 10 (carnet da dieci biglietti) will cost you 8 euros. I am somewhat skeptical of these numbers as I know that they recently increased prices and I could have sworn a single ticket was now a bit over one euro (maybe 1,10?). Anyway, the price will be around 1 euro for a single ticket and around 10 euros for a packet of 10. If you are here for a single day or just two days and are planning on doing a lot of bus travel, you might be interested in purchasing the all-day ticket at 2,30 euros, which is a bit over 2 normal tickets. One thing to take into consideration if you are thinking of buying these all-day tickets: a normal ticket lasts 70 minutes; that is, once you have validated it in the machine on board the bus, you can reuse the same ticket on as many buses as you want within one hour and 10 minutes.
Validating a ticket is very simple. When you get on board, you will find two validation machines, one a bit behind the driver, and one close to the rear end. Look on your ticket, there is an arrow that shows which side to validate first. Then, when you change buses, turn the ticket around and validate that side.
By the way, you get on board a bus either at the front or the back, and you get off a bus using the middle doors. Sometimes, if a bus is jam-packed, you’ll be allowed to get on or off wherever you can, but normally don’t try to get on the bus in the middle, the bus driver won’t open the doors, and don’t try to get off in front or at the back.
The most difficult part of traveling by bus in Trento is figuring out which bus you need to take. Is it the bus on this side of the street or on the other side? Is it the number 8 bus or the number 2? To figure this out, you will need to know which bus stop (fermata in Italian) you want to get to, and whether that bus stop is in the direction of or away from the train station Piazza Dante bus stop. The web site will give you this information (timetables for each Trento bus are available on this page). Look there to see if you are going in the direction of or away from Piazza Dante bus stop. Then, when you get to your departure bus stop, check there to see if the bus is going towards or away from Piazza Dante, which will tell you if you are selecting the right bus or not. Alternatively, look for the last bus stop in the correct direction on the website, and make sure your bus is going towards that stop and not away from it.
It took me several weeks to figure this much out. Like I said, very confusing.
If you are here to go to the university, know that it is spread around the city. Part of it is in the downtown area and part of it is up on the mountain in Povo. If you are going to the engineering building or to the computer science building (IRSS), you will need to take the number 5 towards Povo. If you are going to the IRSS building or the FBK building, you can also take the number 13, but that bus doesn’t go by as often as the number 5.
If you are here as a tourist and are staying close to the historical downtown area, you will find that walking is more efficient than taking the bus anyways. Most of the interesting buildings are within easy walking distance. If you are outside of the downtown area, you will want to take a bus towards Piazza Dante (on the north-south route, your best bet is the 8, but any bus going to Piazza Dante should do).
If you are interested in getting out of the city and going to see the mountains or the lakes surrounding Trento, you’ll have to take an extra-urbano bus. They are more pricy and leave from the central bus station. (Lots of interesting places can be gotten to by train, so check to see which transportation is more suited to where you want to go.)
One nice thing about buses in Trento is that they announce each bus stop as it is coming. Listen for “Prossima fermata…(name of bus stop)”. As well, each upcoming stop is displayed at the front of the bus. Press one of the numerous buttons and go stand beside the middle doors. Make sure the “prossima fermata” sign before these doors is flashing to indicate that the bus will be stopping at the next stop.
Good luck. Bus travel in Trento can be a bit confusing at first, but once you understand how it works, it is a cheap way of visiting Trento.