Immersing oneself in a medieval village is an intense emotion, especially when it is not just a few glimpses but an entire perfectly preserved town. The walls of Canale di Tenno have withstood the test of time, also due to their secluded location away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby Lake Garda.
Time has stood still, they say, but nevertheless the atmosphere is lively in this hamlet of Tenno, and it is advisable to choose whether to spend a day among locals and tourists or to visit it during less crowded hours, such as early morning or sunset, to experience the magic of the village as it once was…
The alleys and underpasses of Canale di Tenno, intact over the centuries
This Garda Trentino village was certainly born in the period of the late Middle Ages and news of the inhabited center dates back to 1211, when Canale di Tenno was mentioned in a document defining the territory of Tenno together with the villages of Pastoedo, Gavazzo, Frapporta, Pranzo, Veduto and Calvòla.
Its name, Canale, seems to derive from the richness of water that surrounds this village.
It is located on the hills north of Lake Garda, at about 600 meters high on a slope between Lake Garda and the Alps, just south of the Brenta Dolomites and with the Altopiano di Fiavè behind it. Due to its unremarkable location, the medieval rural village has remained intact in its foundation, with the main streets intersecting, forming a small square.
When you venture out from the square, you find yourself inside a labyrinth of paved alleys, houses with balconies, porticos, arches and vaults that create arches of passage; when you stop to look at the landscape, you can admire the surrounding mountains, including Monte Callino. Lake Garda is not far away, and from the heights of Canale di Tenno, you can admire it with the mountains behind.
The streets and buildings are made of local gray stone, and create a beautiful contrast with the view of the Trentino mountains. It is a village that reserves balconies decorated with paintings, flowered balconies, flags, signs to mark typical places and medieval phrases that stand out in the alleys at every corner.
It is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, also registered in the homonymous association, and is also visited for its food and wine and hospitality offer, perfectly integrated into the context.
You can eat traditional carne salada, raw or cooked, or polenta and peverada feeling immersed in the ancient times of this little village. You can wander among small characteristic shops selling local crafts and local foods such as olive oil, honey, grappa, chestnuts.
The Artists’ House in Canale di Tenno
In the early years of the twentieth century and up to the Second World War, Canale di Tenno almost became an uninhabited ghost town, as people were attracted by work opportunities in Riva del Garda or other territories.
To revitalize the life of the village, in the sixties, an artistic community was created here, which defined it as its meeting place. The three municipalities of Tenno, Arco and Riva del Garda hosted various painters and sculptors in this village, who managed to create the Casa degli Artisti, giving a current and creative value to the ancient village. Many were the artists who gravitated around the village, also for the spectacular panorama of Lake Garda of the surrounding territories.
In particular, it was the painter Giacomo Vittone who stayed for a long time in Canale di Tenno and who is now remembered through the Casa degli Artisti itself, dedicated to him.
The residences for artists in Canale di Tenno
The Casa degli Artisti collaborates with academies and art institutes and even today, attracted by the natural beauty and history, some artists spend their free time here on vacation. They are hosted for free, but donate the work they create during their stay in Canale to the Casa.
In addition, here are organized summer courses or conferences, on artistic themes, and also temporary exhibitions are set up that attract the attention of many visitors and culture lovers at an international level. In the workshops of the Casa degli Artisti, there are equipment available for those who wish to attend courses or reside, and when the work is left to the Casa, it enriches the collection of Canale di Tenno.
In addition to the Casa degli Artisti, in Canale di Tenno there is also a small Museum of Peasant Life that collects the tools of peasant life, from breeding to viticulture, to field work in the Tenno and Garda territories.
Events and excursions in Canale di Tenno
August is the main month for tourists to arrive and fill the alleys, especially during the reenactment of the “Rustico Medievale”, a costume festival that creates a decidedly suggestive temporal leap. The event takes place during the first two weeks of August, where the medieval roots of the village are exalted, also with scenes of lived life, in a perfect setting.
At Christmas, as in all of Trentino, the beautiful Christmas markets begin, which in this case are part of a special atmosphere.
The stalls are located on the balconies or in the cellars of the houses, as it was in past centuries, and Canale di Tenno becomes a real enchanted village between lights and scents. Not to be missed, in this period, the taste of vin brûlé or polenta. Being a “nativity village”, on Christmas Eve, the procession of shepherds parades in the village, while on Santo Stefano a living nativity scene is set up.
For those who want to go on an excursion in the surroundings, from the center of Canale di Tenno, it takes only a few minutes to reach the Lake of Tenno through a path, easily accessible. A beautiful lake, nestled among the mountains, with an islet in the center, and crystal clear waters (it is said to be the cleanest in Trentino!).