Via Claudia Augusta: Part 8 San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Valsugana

Published on:  | Last updated: 29 April 2017

Cyclists on the Ciclabile della Valsugana cycleway near Grigno

Cyclists on the Ciclabile della Valsugana cycleway near Grigno

At a glance

Distance

76 kilometres.

Difficulty/​terrain

Easy (at least if you are going north to south).

Traffic

The first 48 kilometres are almost entirely on a traffic-free cycleway. The final 28 kilometres are on quiet roads.

Surfaces

Entirely on tarmac cycleways or roads.

Finding your way

The cycleway is and well signed. The route to Feltre is also partly signed and reasonably easy to follow.

Overview

The Ciclabile della Valsugana (Valsugana cycleway) is one of Italy's top cycleways and is rightly very popular. This is one of the highlights of the Via Claudia. The cycleway starts at the Lago di Caldonazzo, high in the hills above Trento, and follows the Brenta river as it heads from its source to the Adriatic coast. It heads into the Canale del Brenta a deep river gorge that carves its way between the Altopiano di Asiago and the Massiccio del Grappa. At the deepest point of the Canale the walls of the gorge are over 800 metres high.

The route described here is one of the variants of the original route. It is no longer shown on the map on the viaclaudia.org website map. I don't know why it is no longer shown, but the signs are still there on the ground and it remains a valid option.

Options

This route follows the cycleway for 48 kilometres before turning off and heading for the pretty Veneto town of Feltre 28 kilometres further on.

There are two other options. One is to turn off the cycleway and climb to the altopiano di Tesino on the height on the eastern side of the Brenta river gorge (or there's a shuttle bus). There's more about this option in this article in the series: Via Claudia Part 10.

The other option is to carry on following the Valsugana to Bassano del Grappa, and then head to Feltre from there. For more about this option go to the next part of the series: Via Claudia Part 9. You could also continue following the Brenta south towards Padova and the Brenta Riviera.

Map and altitude profile

Powered by WP-GPX Maps

 tips for using the map

Map screen grab

Run your cursor over the graph to show the elevation, and distance from the start, for any given point on the route. (Note: the altitude graph is not shown where the route is flat).



map detail

Click the little icon in the right-hand corner to see the map fullscreen


Route description

The Ciclabile della Valsugana (Valsugana cycleway) starts just outside the train station at San Cristoforo al Lago where a brand new section of bike path takes you to the Lago di Caldonazzo. The cycleway continues along the shore of the lake.

Once you get to Calceranica al Lago the lakeside cycleway gives way to a section cycleway that runs runs beside the road. At points the cycleway is little more than the permission to ride on the pavement. It's not great, but it works and gets you into Caldonazzo without problems.

The route through Caldonazzo is a little tricky because of the one-way system, you need to head out of the village on the Via Roma before turning off onto a country lane that runs parallel with the strada provin­ciale to the point where the cycleway resumes by a round­about on the main SS47. From here you continue on into Borgo Valsugana on a combin­ation of traffic-free cycleway and quiet road.

Before you get to Borgo Valsugana you might want to visit the Mulino Angeli (opening hours). This also houses a museum of scare­crows and a toy museum. The scare­crows were collected by photo­grapher Flavio Faganello. You can see a gallery of his pictures on this page: lacasadeglispaventapasseri.net: mostra The museum is about 60 metres from the cycleway - you need to turn left just before your get to a picnic area and take the road that leads under the railway line and under the main road.

Borgo Valsugana: the Castel Telvana

Borgo Valsugana: the Castel Telvana. Photo by Matteo Cescato (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Borgo Valsugana

As you come into Borgo Valsugana look out for the Castel Telvana on the hillside above. If you have the energy you could go up to the castle - although it's not open to visitors. 

The Valsugana links the Veneto with the Trentino. Between 1866 and 1918 this was the border between the Austro-Hungarian empire and Italy. The valley and the nearby Altopiano di Asiago were the scene of important battles in the First World War. In Borgo Valsugana there's a mostra permanente (permanent exhib­ition). For more inform­ation see: trentinograndeguerra.it or mostradiborgo.it.

Borgo Valsugana is a good place to stop for a coffee or a drink. From Borgo Valsugana there's a long section of cycleway that takes you toward Grigno - although not into the village itself. Just outside Grigno the route crosses the river and then, shortly after, crosses back again, passing the Trincerone di Grigno on the other side of the river. Trincerone means 'big trench' and while it's barely noticeable from ground-level, below is forti­fic­ation built by the Italians during the first World War to defend the border, as it then was, with the Austro-Hungarian empire ( picture of the Trincerone). For inform­ation on visiting the trincerone see: valsuganacultura.it or ask in the Biblioteca Comunale (library) in Grigno.

Near Martincelli the cycleway turns left and goes under the main road (the SS47), at this point you keep straight on over the river, and then over the railway line. Turn right just after the level crossing. From here the road continues to Primolano where there's a bit of a climb. The switch­backs take you past the Tagliata della Scala e Fontanelle —forti­fic­a­tions built by the Italians in the nineteenth century.

The route then heads for the the village of Arsiè. If you are planning to go to the campsites at the Lago di Corlo you need to bear right at the fork on the road just before the village and then turn right. You continue through Frassené and Fonzaso to Arten. Just after Arten the road comes out onto the SS50, which you follow for a kilometre before turning off onto the Via Gorda. Most through traffic takes the nearby SS50Bis, but expect this stretch to be a little busier.

Feltre

Feltre - frescoed house facade

Feltre - frescoed house facade

Feltre seems to be almost completely off the tourist map and ignored by the guide­books. I really don’t under­stand why, as Feltre is one of the Veneto’s undis­covered gems. Although it’s off the tourist map Feltre has a good choice reasonably-priced hotels and there are a couple of nice campsites at the nearby Lago di Corlo. 

In 1510 the city was almost completely destroyed by the army of the Emperor Maximillian, but the result was that the city was rebuilt as a harmo­nious whole in Renaissance style. it became a summer residence for many of the Venetian nobility.

Feltre’s centro storico lies behind its high city walls. To get to it you need to go through the Porta Imperiale and go up the Via Mezzaterra to the Piazza Maggiore. Look out for the frescoed palazzi on the way. The Piazza with its porticoed buildings and lion of San Marco (symbol of the Repubblica Veneziana) is one of the most beautiful in the Veneto.

Show more about what to see in Feltre

On one side of the Piazza is the Palazzo della Ragione (Palace of Reason) with a loggia attributed to Andrea Palladio. Inside there’s a true hidden treasure —the Teatro della Sena. The present theatre is the work of Gianantonio Selva the architect of the Fenice opera house in Venezia, and has also been dubbed the Piccola Fenice (the little Fenice). Between July and September you can visit it at weekends and holidays, otherwise by appointment (0432 885242 or museo@nullcomune.feltre.bl.it - you could also ask at the tourist inform­ation office on the Via Mezzaterra). Admission is one euro. Above the Piazza Maggiore is the lombard Castello Alboino. The Torre Campanon is the remaining survivor of the four towers of the original castle.

Feltre was a roman city and there’s an impressive area arche­ologica under­neath the Piazza del Duomo. It’s also only open at weekends or by appointment (same phone number as the Teatro della Sena). Admission free.

There’s also the inter­esting Galleria d’Arte Moderna ‘Carlo Rizzarda’. Rizzarda was an artist born in Feltre who worked in wrought iron in the 1920s and 30s. The comune of his home town inherited his collection as well as the palazzo that houses the gallery. (opening times and prices).

If you are planning to cycle the tour in late July and early August you might be inter­ested in catching the Palio di Feltre.

Three kilometres south from Feltre is another treasure: the Santuario di Santi Vittore e Corona. A monastery built on a rocky crag, the Santuario holds another excep­tional collection of frescoes dating back to the 12th century. If you have the time it's well worth the effort to get there. Look out for the picture of the Last Supper where Christ and the disciples eat shellfish - just as the ordinary people of the area would have done.

Cyclists on the Valsugana cycleway

Cyclists on the Ciclabile della Valsugana near Grigno

More information

Places to stay

Hotels

Find and book places to stay with Booking.com

Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:

 About these links

If you use these links to book accom­mod­ation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.

I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirm­ation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accommodation.

I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the oppor­tunity to let me know if there’s a problem.

Many properties offer free cancel­lation but it’s a good idea to check the condi­tions as these vary from property to property.

Hostels

There's a hostel at Santa Giustina near Cesiomaggiore (the Ostello Altanon). You can reach it by following the variant of the route that goes via the Passo di Praderadego.

  Map of hostels along the route:  FT-maps-VCA-hostels-show in overlay    |    FT-maps-VCA-hostels-show in new window 

Campsites

The campsites on the Lago di Corlo near Feltre are the Camping Gajole and the Camping al Lago.

  Map of campsites along the route:  FT-maps-VCA-campsites-show in overlay    |    FT-maps-VCA-campsites-show in new window 

Transport and services

Trains

The train line from Trento continues through the Brenta river gorge so you are never far from a station. Services are about once an hour. There's also a station at Feltre.

Services and places to eat

There are three bicigrill on the cycleway, as well as cafes, bars and restaurants in the villages that the route passes through

  • Big Fish near Levico (only open at weekends?)
  • Bicigrill di Tezze
  • Cornale at Enego —this is a little further on from the point where you need to turn off for Feltre, but you could go to it and loop back
The bicigrill at Tezze

The bicigrill at Tezze

Bike shops

  • Pergine Valsugana: Osler Sport | Crazy Bike
  • Caldonazzo: Cicli Ghesla
  • Levico Terme: Cicli Cetto (Corso Centrale)
  • Borgo Valsugana: Pepe Cicli (Viale Città di Prato 29)
  • Feltre: Cicli Carpene (Via delle Tezze 1) | MTB Point

Resources

Resources

Tourist information websites:

  • visitvalsugana.it (it/​de/​en/​nl) is the tourist inform­ation website for the immediate area
  • visittrentino.it/ (it/​de/​en/​nl/​cz/​pl/​ru). Official tourist inform­ation site for the Trentino
  • tr3ntino.it/ (it/​en/​de) is a very good independent site which also has a useful cycling section
  • veneto.eu is the website for the Veneto region (it/​en/​fr/​de/​es/​pt/​ru/​jp)

Cycling information

Valsugana cycleway near Grigno

The Valsugana cycleway near Grigno

Articles in this series

Get in touch

Please get in touch if you find any errors in the information, or if there’s anything, good or bad, that you’d want other cyclists to know.


Join the mailing list?

If you’ve found this site useful why not sign up to the mailing list for occasional updates about new routes.