Caldes is one of the largest communes in Val di Sole, with an area that takes in the entire lower valley and is composed of seven hamlets: Caldes, Samoclevo, Cassana, San Giacomo, Tozzaga, Bordiana and Bozzana. Its two main economic resources are agriculture and tourism, with a large number of orchards linked to the Melinda consortium and monuments that of great historical value and interest. These include Castel Caldes and the Rocca di Samoclevo. With regards structures for tourism and recreation, the most important is without doubt the Contre complex, situated on the banks of the river Noce. It has tennis courts, football pitches, basketball and volleyball courts, an area for festivals, a bar and a park for relaxing days on the grass.
A hot water spring, that has since disappeared, seems to have given the name to the town. It is mentioned on parchments dating to the beginning of the 13th century as Caldis or Caldesio. Two bronze spoons and a silver coin from the 2nd century A.D., testify that the area was inhabited during the Roman age. From 1230 to 1880 local history was marked by the presence of the feudal lords of the Cagnò-Caldesio and the Thunn. Other Episcopal and Imperial lords (Manfroni, Malanotti, Antonietti and Lorengo) resided here for many centuries. The town was involved in the peasants’ revolt of 1525. Between 1810 and 1817 and between 1854 and 1859, Caldes became the administrative centre of an expanded commune that took in the surrounding villages (Samoclevo, Cassana, San Giacomo, Tozzaga, Bordiana and Bozzana), a position that was confirmed in 1928. In 1956 the hamlet of Cavizzana was detached and formed an autonomous commune.
The historical centre of the town, one of the most charming in Trentino, is dominated by the castle and is formed by noble palazzos and peasant houses, bell towers (the one in the square is Romanesque and churches (nineteenth century parish church, castle chapel, the cemetery church of San Rocco), by cobbled roads, portals, mullioned windows and overhanging roofs. The medieval bell tower with its double line of mullioned windows preserves a fifteenth century fresco. Saint Rocco church, built after the plague of 1510, holds three splendid wooden altars with seventeenth century altarpieces made by Trentino (Naurizio), Venetian (Lugo) and Lombard (Pozzi) painters, the tomb stone of the founder (about 1512), coats of arms frescoed on the arch of the saint and images of Job on the walls of the south nave.
A must see
The castle stands at the eastern entrance to the town. This acted as the comfortable residence of local dynasties rather than a fortified military garrison. The oldest part of the castle is the thirteenth century tower that is five floors high. This was built by the Lords of Cagnò and reinforced in the 15th century by strong barbicans. The rest of the building with its square floor plan, is one floor lower and takes in the original domus murata. It was built by the Thunn before the end of the 16th century and was enlarged during the first decades of the 17th century with the insertion of castle walls – today replaced by nearby houses – and by the circular tower that contains a winding staircase. In the 16th century many of the rooms were decorated with murals (friezes, coats of arms, stories of saints). It fell into ruin at the end of the 19th century and the building suffered from illegal tampering and transformations. Since 1981 the castle has been the property of the Autonomous Province of Trento, which is now restoring it. The halls on the ground floor often play host to exhibitions during the summer. Next to the castle one finds the chapel that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It already existed in 1585 and was decorated with new murals in 1629 by the painter Elia Naurizio.