Published on: 16 March 2014 | Last updated: 13 January 2020
At a glance
Moderately challenging. There are three significant climbs on this variant, although there are shuttles to take you over two of them.
There are two shuttles on this section covering the two main climbs
This section takes you up into the beautiful Tesino area in the hills above the Brenta. It descends before climbing to the Croce d’Aune —which has a special place in the history of cycling. Or, if you prefer, there’s a shuttle bus from Castelnuovo.
Map and altitude profile
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|San Cristoforo al Lago to Borgo Valsugana||25 kms|
|Borgo Valsugana to Pieve Tesino||11 kms|
|Pieve Tesino to Croce d’Aune||16 kms|
|Croce d’Aune to Feltre||14 kms|
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 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.
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 to Grigno
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.
From Borgo Valsugana
Just after Borgo Valsugana (386m) the route turns off the cycleway, and starts the climb to Pieve Tesino (843m). This was the route of the old Roman road and the fort built by the Romans on the road, became Castel Tesino
The route takes a series of quiet strade provinciali. At Castelnuovo where you turn onto the SP41 which leads to Strigno passing through Scurelle. The official route goes from Strigno to Bieno via Samone, although you could opt to stay on the SP78. From Bieno (815m) you are within reach of the Passo della Forcella (910m). The route skirts round Castel Tesino, but you could stick with the SP78 as if heads into the village.
In the past the people in the Tesino earned their livings through forestry and agriculture - grazing their flocks in summer in on the high pastures, before spending the winter on the plains of the Veneto and Emilia-Romagna. As the transumanza became more difficult, the people of the area became travelling salesmen selling flints from a local mine for use in flintlock muskets, selling them throughout northern Italy and central Europe. In the 1650s a local businessman opened a printshop and persuaded the Tesini to sell his prints, taking advantage of their networks and commercial know-how. What started off as a sideline became a speciality for the area, with people from the Tesino setting up businesses making and selling prints in places as far away as Moscow, Amsterdam and Paris. The Villa Daziaro was built by the brothers Giacomo e Giuseppe Daziaro who made their fortune from a print-making business in Russia. The (the Museo Per Via (Museo Tesino delle Stampe e dell’Ambulantato) is a museum dedicated to the prints and to the people who made and sold them.
Also in Pieve Tesino are the Museo Casa Alcide De Gaspari and the Giardino d’Europa. De Gasperi was born in Pieve Tesino, and as Italian Foreign Minister, was heavily involved in the formation of the the European Coal and Steel Community a forerunner of the modern European Union.
On to the Croce d’Aune
From here it’s downhill towards the bridge over the Torrente Cismon. The SP79 turns into the SP40 as you cross from the Trentino into the Veneto. From the river you climb, via Sorriva and Sovramonte, to the Passo Croce d’Aune (1011m) the highest point on the route since the Reschenpass. There’s at least one hotel there, with bar and restaurant, the Albergo Croce d’Aune. There’s also a decent bar-ristorante ‘Al Camoscio’ at weekends a popular stop for local cyclists.
The pass has an important place in the history of cycling - the story is that, after struggling on a wintry morning to change over the wheel on his bike in order to make the climb to the pass, a young Tullio Campagnolo decided that ‘Bisogna cambiar qualcossa de drio’ (something needs to change at the back); and set out on the road that was to lead to him developing the quick release and the launch of Campagnolo. (In the days before the development of dérailleur gears, cyclists would ride fixed gear bikes and change gear by flipping the back wheel and using larger cog on the other side).
Look out for the memorial depicting an unhappy-looking Campagnolo wrestling with his rear wheel while the other cyclists take off up the hill.
After the Croce d’Aune it’s downhill all the way to Feltre - unless you succumb to the temptation to stop off at the Birreria Pedavena attached to the Pedevena brewery. The brewery was once owned by Heineken: Heineken had originally sought to close the brewery, but after a huge protest campaign by the workers and local community, they were persuaded to sell it to a from Udine in neighbouring Friuli-Venezia-Giulia.
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 (+39 0432 885242 or firstname.lastname@example.org - 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.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs
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.
There’s only one hostel on this part of the route, the Ostello Altanon near Cesiomaggiore.
There are two campsites on this section of the route, the Camping Castel Tesino and the Camping Alice. There’s also the Camping Valmalene a little way off the route. The last campsites before Venezia are at the Lago di Corlo near Feltre where there’s the Camping al Lago and, next door, the Camping Gajole. There are no campsites between Feltre and the the coast.
Transport and services
Trains and shuttles
After Borgo Valsugana, the next train station is at Feltre.
There are shuttles from Castelnuovo to Castello Tesino, and from Ponte Oltra to the Croce d’Aune. Between them, they take care of the main climbs on this section. Download the pdf flyer from the viaclaudia.org website for details of the stops and departure times, as well as the booking system.
Booking places on the shuttle
You’ve probably read this already but …
There is a booking system for all the shuttles, except for the bus to Nauders which is a regular public bus service. The pdf timetable leaflets give instructions on what you need to do: it’s pretty straightforward. The website says Bitte spätesten 24 Stunden vorher reservieren! (Please reserve at least 24 hours in advance!). The services are run by private companies, mostly local taxi firms, and if they have no bookings they probably aren’t going to keep the driver hanging around. If you leave it to chance, you may arrive and find that they have given the driver the day off, or found them something else to do.
Bike shops on this section of the route
- Feltre: Cicli Carpene (Via delle Tezze 1) | MTB Point
If you know of other bike shops, or you spot a mistake, please let me know.
General tourist information
Useful local sites include:
Information about the shuttles
You can download the shuttle timetables as pdfs from this page on the viaclaudia.org website: viaclaudia.org: Shuttles über die Pässe. The page is in German, but you just need to look for the big PDF icon. The timetables are available individually or packaged together: Alle Pass-Shuttle inkl. Rückholbus.
The timetables are in German, English and Italian, and include the instructions for booking a place by text message.
Note: the pdfs available from the website are dated 2018.
Articles in this series
- The Via Claudia in Germany and Austria: Overview
- Via Claudia Part 1: Donauwörth to Landsberg Am Lech
- Via Claudia Part 2: Landsberg am Lech to Füssen
- Via Claudia Part 3: Füssen to Imst
- Via Claudia Part 4: Along the valley of the Inn
- The Via Claudia in Italy: Overview
- Via Claudia Part 5: The Vinschgau
- Via Claudia Part 6: Algund to Trento
- Via Claudia Part 7: Trento to the Lago di Caldonazzo
- Via Claudia Part 8: San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Valsugana
- Via Claudia Part 9: the Valsugana cycleway to Bassano del Grappa
- Via Claudia Part 10: San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Passo Croce d’Aune
- Via Claudia Part 11: Feltre to Treviso
- Via Claudia Part 12: Treviso to Altino (and Venezia)
- Via Claudia Part 13: Trento to Verona and Ostiglia