230km (143 miles) NW of Milan, 101km (63 miles) N of Verona, 57km (35 miles) S of Bolzano

Surrounded by mountains, this beautiful little city, founded by the Romans on the banks of the Adige River, definitely has an Alpine flair. It spent most of its history, from the 10th century though 1813, as a German-Austrian bishopric ruled by powerful princely bishops from their seat in the Castello del Buonconsiglio. In fact, the town's status as an Italian city at the crossroads of the Teutonic and Latin worlds, along with the bishop's dual role as subject both to the pope and to the German Emperor, made Trent the ideal compromise site for the Council of Trent called in the 16th century to address the Protestant Reformation.

Napoleon's imperial sweep through Italy sent the last prince-bishop packing in 1796, and by 1813, Trent came under a century of direct Austrian rule. Austria's hegemony was constantly challenged by the local pro-Italian Irredentist movement, which was delighted when the treaties ending World War I landed Trent on the Italian side of the border in 1918.

And indeed, unlike other towns up here in the far north, which tend to lean heavily on their Austrian heritage, Trent is essentially Italian. The piazze are broad and sunny, the palaces are ocher-colored and tile-roofed, Italian is the lingua franca, and pasta is still a staple on menus. With its pleasant streets and the remnants of its most famous event, the 16th-century Council of Trent, Trent is a nice place to stay for a night or to visit en route to Bolzano and other places in the Trentino-Alto Adige.