The hanging ‘cycle path of dreams’, an architectural example of sustainable tourism
The hanging ‘cycle path of dreams’ has justly earned its moniker because its shows off the very best that Italy has to offer. The path is emplaced in a spectacular natural setting, where steep cliffs rise from the sparkling blue lake water, where verdant rolling hills are speckled with cypresses, and little picturesque fishing villages are dotted around the lake. At every corner along the path, the cyclist is presented with one stunning scene after another. Scenes which have attracted famous painters and poets throughout the ages. The hanging cycle trail located on the north-west of lake Garda’s stretched arm, connects the towns of Limone sul Garda and Capo Reamol. Although the elevated cycling path was only launched in July 2018, it has already become a must-see for cyclists, due to its well-defined route, wide bridges, night time lighting, and low gradient, which makes the path is suitable for all levels of cyclist and all types of bicycles. As already noted above, the path currently stands at 3km in length, and the sections forms part of the 140km ‘Garda by Bike’ trail. The path is a joint collaboration between the regions of Lombardy, Veneto and the province of Trento. Moreover, it can be reached when cycling along EuroVelo 7 – Sun Route, which is over 7,700 km in total, and it runs from the North Cape of Norway all the way to the Mediterranean, and finishes in Malta.
The hanging cycle path is a great example of fine engineering techniques being adopted to lessen the impact of construction on the environment. It is built by using the cantilever approach, whereby the path sits proud of the cliff, and it is secured by its structure being anchored into the rocky cliff walls 50 metres above the water. Furthermore, materials like fake wood, that are resistant to different weather conditions, were used in its construction. One of the goals of the path is to promote eco-friendly tourism, where people can discover the beauty of their surroundings whilst maintaining a healthy respect for the environment. Since Italy is a country of extreme landscapes, such as steep mountains and dramatic coasts, more cantilever ("hanging") cycle paths will have to be built in the future, to make cycling more accessible, in more places.
Another cycling path being considered as a marvel of engineering, since leading through tunnels and sharp U-bends, while offering spectacular views, is the winding “Strada del Ponale”. It is located at the most northern tip of lake Garda and was recently reopened after some maintenance works.
Around Italy’s biggest lake
Lake Garda is Italy’s biggest lake, and it straddles the borders of three regions: the metropolitan Lombardy to the west, adventurous Trentino Alto-Adige to the north, and the romantic Veneto to the east. The result of which is a diverse and rich cultural melting-pot. The lake offers the cyclist a wonderful travel companion, as there are so many different activities and attractions to do and see when there.
When one continues their cycle journey northwards from Limione sul Garda, one will find themselves arrive at Spiaggia Sabbioni. The beach is a most attractive location to discover and experience because of its panoramic views of mighty mountain ridges, whilst it also offers a most welcome opportunity to take a rest and cool down in the clear and turquoise water of the lake. This rest point also has large and well-maintained green areas, free showers, and a playground which makes it an ideal stop when traveling with kids. Italy is certainly famous for its food and drink, and perhaps one of its most famous foods is gelato. As such, if one wanted to have a taste of some gelato, then a stop in the town of Malcesine is in order. Malcesine is known as the pearl of Lake Garda, because it is a charming town with cobbled lanes, and it is dominated by the historical castle Castello Scaligero. If it is a cool breeze you want, then why not take the cable car up to the 1760m high mountain ‘Monte Baldo’; it is a most tempting destination for mountain bikers as well as admirers of magnificent views. If you plan to take a ride in the cable car, be aware to check the updated timetables, as bicycles are only allowed onboard at specific times. Reaching the tip of the Sirmione peninsula, on the southern shore of Lake Garda, you can find yourself at the fading remains of a large Roman villa, ‘Grotte di Catullo’. Built between the end of the first century BC and the beginning of the first century AD, it is not only a must-visit for history lovers, but also provides you with a stunning panorama. Another unique blend of nature and history is offered by Lake Garda’s biggest island, ‘Isola Borghese’. Nestled in a beautiful and iconic Mediterranean setting sits a majestic villa which once attracted famous names such as Francis of Assisi and Dante Alighieri, and it can be visited today with a guided tour. As the island is still inhabited by the Cavazza family, it can only be reached by a motorboat, which can be taken from the harbour at Gardone Riviera.
Italy’s biggest lake has so much to offer, and its cycle path does not offer only the exceptional experience of being able to cycle above water, but it also lies next to the EuroVelo 7 – Sun Route, so therefore it is possible to connect the cycle tour to Malta, Austria, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and of course Italy!
Author: Antonia Tornow