2. Avio: Avio Castle
The summit of a spur of Mount Vignola, which overlooks the Val Lagarina furrowed by the River Adige, has been adorned for more than 10 centuries by one of the most ancient and evocative castles in the Trentino region. It has belonged almost without interruption to the noble Castelbarco family, which during the Middle Ages transformed the fortress into a small feudal court, frequented by artists and intellectuals. The great scale of the complex – which is evident even at a distance thanks to the visual impact of the perimeter of crenellated walls and defensive towers that today encircle a lush garden of vines and cypresses – is counterbalanced by the attractiveness of the extraordinary frescoes that adorn the interiors of the Room of Love and the Keep, dating from the mid-14th century. While war and the military arts are celebrated in the former through delicate decorations and captivating frescoes, which offer an authentic encapsulation of the knightly customs of the time, in the latter the focus is very much on courtly love. In the renowned “Love Room”, amid darts that pierce the hearts of an elegantly dressed lady and a passionate knight, Love mounts an impetuous steed, infusing the entire space with a lively rhythm. The complex is reached via a route that meanders between the vineyards and skirts the southern edge. The wide downward slope that opens before the visitor is a sequence of terraces supported by stone walls, embellished by rows of vines and slender cypresses. Avio is a place of unexpected contrasts and is suitable even for youngsters who, by engaging with game-based trails, can have fun learning about the stories and characters who have brought the castle to life over the centuries.