How about that?! It’s a Renaissance-era façade of an apartment building on the piazza in Trento, a city of 150,000 in northeastern Italy, eighty miles south of the Austrian border. It’s kind of off the tourist path, so chances are that I never would have come here if not for this conference. What a mistake that would have been. This is a wonderful little city, unlike any I’ve ever seen in Italy, because it’s Alpine.

You probably heard of the 16th century Council of Trent, where the Catholic Counter-Reformation found its fullest expression. Here is the city’s cathedral. The onion dome was a later Baroque addition:

Notice the fountain in the foreground. That’s Neptune. What on earth is an Italian city in the mountains doing commemorating the god of the Sea? Because he has a trident. The Romans called this town Tridentum — Italianized as Trento.

Here is an unusual rose window on the cathedral’s west-facing side:

You probably can’t see it clearly in this photo, but this is a medieval Wheel of Fortune. At the very top (at 12:00), there is a man holding two glasses of wine, symbolizing good fortune. But then counterclockwise, we see men descending at each “hour,” then ascending on the right side. The idea is that this is the cycle of life. No saints on this rose window, just figures of fortune.

On the wall of the adjacent castle is this coat of arms of the Prince Bishop, an office created by the Holy Roman Emperor for the administration of Trento. That’s right: the bishop was also the political ruler of the diocese. You see the crozier on the left, symbolizing episcopal power, and a sword on the right, symbolizing state power.


And finally, here’s a close up of the frescoed apartment building across the piazza — this time, with jasmine:


It is a lovely place to be, and the local wines are tasty, but I have to say, it has been miserably hot this week. Temperatures are the same as in Louisiana. Thanks for nothing, mountains!