Visiting Castelfondo: Getting There!

A recent blog comment from Tom Genetti posed the following question: What airport do you fly into to get to Castelfondo?

From the many inquiries I have received over the years, it seems a pilgrimage to our ancestral village is a popular travel destination for descendants of the Genetti family. Although a trip to Italy is out of the question during this time of pandemic as their country is also dealing with travel restrictions, lock-downs and red zones, we can always hope for a better future. This blog post will answer Tom’s question based on my personal experience traveling in Northern Italy. And with luck, one day we will once again enjoy a journey to the home of our ancestors.

The short answer to Tom’s question is: there are no international airports in close proximity to Castelfondo. Located in the upper Val di Non, the village resides in a rural, mountainous area surrounded by apple orchards. The region is beautiful, but semi-isolated. Traveling to Castelfondo takes ingenuity as it is certainly off the beaten path.

To my knowledge, the easiest and most direct travel route is flying into the Malpensa Airport in Milan and renting a car at the airport. You then drive the toll road east from Milan to the city of Trent (Trento), about a three hour trip by car. After passing through Trento, head north up the valley to Castelfondo, arriving an hour later. Along the way you will pass through a number of small towns with scenic views.

A second option is to fly into Milan, board a train to the city of Verona, and change trains to Trento. This is a three to four hour trip depending on your connections. After arriving in Trento, rent a car for the hour drive north to Castelfondo. This will save you some trouble navigating Italian highways, but a car is still necessary to reach the village.

Arriving in Castelfondo

If you prefer staying in the picturesque city of Bolzano, located on the east side of the mountain range in the province of Alto Adige, (Castelfondo is located on the west side of the mountains) travel by train from Milan east to the city of Verona. Change trains in Verona and head north to Bolzano via a smaller regional train. Located just a few blocks from city center, the Bolzano train station is an easy walk to hotels and restaurants.

Since my husband and I love staying in the beautiful city of Bolzano with all it has to offer a visiting tourist, we opt for flying into Milan and train travel to Bolzano. Keep in mind Bolzano (also known as Bozen in German) is a pedestrian city and cars are prohibited in the city center. It’s best to stay a few days here, get your bearings then rent a car for your visit to Castelfondo.

FYI – always make sure you have some form of GPS while driving, as it is a necessity! Road signs are in Italian and/or German, rarely English. Plus you often can’t see signage as it may be posted above eye level, attached to a building or missing altogether. Sometimes roads wind through ancient villages and are so narrow as to be one lane squeezed between houses. You need to keep your wits about you so as not to scrape against stone buildings or run into a tractor turning out of an orchard and onto the road in front of you. When traveling, my husband drives and I navigate using our iPad and a travel app loaded with our intended route. He can concentrate on the road and I concentrate on getting us there!

Mountain road up the mountain from Bolzano to Passo Mendola then on to Castelfondo.
Photo credit: Louise Roach

When you are ready to visit Castelfondo from Bolzano, a rental car facility is available at the city train station. From the Bolzano station head west out of town, driving through the curving, hairpin mountain road over Passo Mendola, arriving an hour later in Castelfondo. Fair warning – this mountain drive is not for the faint of heart! It always leaves me with a queasy stomach and frayed nerves from the narrow blind curves zigzagging up the mountain!

Of course, there are other options for air travel as Italy has international airports in Rome, Florence and Venice. If you are planning to visit other cities during your vacation, one of these airports may work better with your travel itinerary. Keep in mind – no matter where you fly into, you need to find your way from the airport to Castelfondo via train, bus, car or a combination of all three.

On our first Italian trip in 2011, we flew into Rome and spent a glorious week experiencing the sites and culture of this historic city. When it was time to leave, we took a taxi to the northern part of the city and rented a car on the outskirts, thus by-passing city traffic. Driving on the streets of Rome is insane and I don’t recommend it! We then traveled seven hours north to Bolzano, where we parked our car for several days in an underground facility as we could not drive within city center. A few days later, we drove west from Bolzano over the curving (and very scary) mountain pass, arriving in the village of Ronzone where we stayed at the lovely Villa Orso Grigio, a short drive from Castelfondo.

After our two-day visit to the village of my ancestors, we drove south down the valley to the city of Trento then on to Milan’s airport where we returned our rental car. Taking a taxi back into the city, we spent two days exploring the historic piazza and the majestic Duomo di Milano before departing for home.

So you see – it takes much planning and creativity to finally arrive in Castelfondo!

In a future blog post, I’ll offer suggestions for travel accommodations and things to see and do.

Buon viaggio!

  10 comments for “Visiting Castelfondo: Getting There!

  1. Lois McCormick
    January 30, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    Since your Mother is my great aunt. I was wondering if we still had Marchetti relatives living in Castelfondo?

    • L.Roach
      January 30, 2021 at 6:30 pm

      You might mean my paternal grandmother Angeline Marchetti. My mother was Elsie Voth – not related to the Marchetti family. And yes there are many Marchetti still living in Castelfondo. I am friends with several of them.

      • Lois M McCormick
        January 31, 2021 at 8:20 pm

        i realized my mistake a few hours later. Yes your paternal grandmother Aunt Angeline was my grandmother Anna Maria’s sister. Your Aunt Dora Genetti was married to my grandfather Bott’s brother Vereconde..I was fortunate to have seen Bolzano on a tour bus trip that stopped there for a few hours. However, there was no way I could leave the tour and see Castelfondo or Cles. I know we have Bott relatives still living in Cles and my cousin Robbie was fortunate to visit them when he was stationed there.But, I always wondered if we had Marchetti’s still living in Castelfondo? I never knew my grandmother because she died when my mother Matilda was 3. My mother went to live with her grandparents John and Catherine Marchetti until she was 13 and then went home across the street. I was fortunate to have met Aunt Angeline and Uncle Leon, Aunt Dora and Uncle Vereconde because they would come to the family functions at my Uncle Angelo’s bar and restaurant in Nuremberg. Gus Genetti and his family use to come with his brother Leon and sister Dora to the functions.as well.i am 82 now and I don’t expect to be able to travel to Europe. I have to do it vicariously and through the internet. So, my Marchetti relatives would be the same as yours. Since all Lorenzo’s children were born in Castelfondo and moved to America.I wasn”t sure we still had relatives there. I believe he was the only child of Clemente and Caterina Marchetti. Somehow we are probably distantly related to the Marchetti’s still living there since it is such a small village. If we are,tell them I was asking about them, and say hello for me I am fortunate to have met you at your last Genetti re-union. I was with my brother and sisters. My sister Kathy Lamb you may be more familiar with knowing.. So your father would be my mother’s first cousin.

      • L.Roach
        January 31, 2021 at 9:00 pm

        Thank you Lois for telling us about your family memories. I do know several people from the Marchetti family in Castelfondo but you are correct, they are only distantly related to us. And I do remember meeting you at the last reunion. Thank you very much for reading our family blog and leaving a comment.

    • L.Roach
      January 30, 2021 at 9:03 pm

      Lois – I’m a little confused – is your comment meant for Tom Genetti? He reads this blog but all of the blog posts are written by me. Perhaps Tom will see your comment and respond to your question.

      • Lois McCormick
        February 1, 2021 at 3:57 pm

        You’re welcome.

  2. January 31, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    Great post and very useful for travelers. We also recommend flying to Munich and either renting a car or taking the train south to Bolzano and/or Merano. There is a third option but it is very expensive: One can fly to the Bolzano airport via connections in Munich or other cities. It is much closer to the Val di Non but can cost a small fortune.

    • L.Roach
      January 31, 2021 at 1:28 pm

      Thank you for your input Allen! Yes, Munich is a good option. We flew into that airport on our last trip, but then traveled around Germany and Austria for a week, before boarding a train from Salzburg to Bolzano. No matter where you fly into, it’s always an adventure traveling to Castelfondo!

      • January 31, 2021 at 1:32 pm

        Speriamo di vederti in Castelfondo….

  3. L.Roach
    January 31, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    That would be nice, but I think it will be a long time before I get on a plane again. For now we have decided to stay safe and stay put. So there are no travel plans in our future.

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