Published on: 20 March 2014 | Last updated: 7 February 2018
At a glance
Easy (at least if you are going north to south).
The first 48 kilometres are almost entirely on a traffic-free cycleway. The final 28 kilometres are on quiet roads.
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.
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.
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
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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.
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 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
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 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.
Transport and services
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
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)
- pdf map/leaflet (from the downloads section of the visitvalsugana.it website (visitvalsugana.it: downloads- maps
- for more information about cycling in the wider area there's dolomitilagoraibike.it
- visitvalsugana.it (it/de/en/nl) is the tourist information website for the immediate area
- tr3ntino.it: mountain biking and cycling (it/en/de) is a very good independent site which also has a useful cycling section
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