In the province of Trento, Ala (Alla or Ah lan der Etsch in German) is the most important center of Vallagarina in southern Trentino, at the mouth of Valbona and Val di Ronchi. Thanks to its strategic location, Ala has always played an important role in both economical and military terms, being located along one of the major arteries of communication between Central Europe and the Mediterranean.
The town's name origins has two historical interpretations, both historically based: the first considers that it derives from "ala" (auxiliary troops of the Roman army), that settled down in the area, while the second one from the German "hall" (warehouse).
Of Roman origins, during the Middle Ages, the town centre began to take its urban physiognomy, proceeding also to the construction of defensive towers (bastions) and fortified entrances to the city. In the XVI century developed the cultivation of mulberry trees and the consequent breeding of silkworms, which, over the course of the next century, increased the local production of velvet, designed primarily for the European market. The art of silk and velvet changed the city, making it a major economic center, attracting new residents and submitting substantial changes both at the urban level, both in a cultural and artistic heritage. Between the XVII and XVIII centuries, thanks to the economic wealth and cultural fervor, the city was embellished with new and sumptuous artworks, palaces and architectural masterpieces.
Commercial activities related to the silk went into crisis in the second half of the XIX century, coinciding with the start of work on the construction of the Brennero railway.
Sites of Interest:
- the Parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta, situated on a hill elevated above the historic center;
- the Church of St. John, in the main square;
- the shrine of St. Valentine;
- the Church of the Capuchins;
- the Palaces de 'Pizzini, two buildings that belonged to the Pizzini Family: the older of the two, dates back to the XVII century and houses the Museum of Ancient Piano and the International Academy of musical interpretation of ancient instruments, and the second one is a wonderful example of Baroque architecture that includes among its illustrious guests, Francis I and Maria Theresa of Austria and Mozart;
- Palazzo Angelini, built on a XVI century plant, although the original structure dates back to the XV century;
- Palazzo de 'Gresti, an interesting example of the late-Baroque, which was headquarters of the civil jurisdiction of the Vicariate and residence of the Captain of Justice between '600 and '700;
- Palazzo Zanderighi, which housed San Carlo Borromeo in 1565;
- Palazzo Taddei (XVII century), which dates back to the Venetian period.