Published on: 11 June 2019 | Last updated: 15 February 2020
The Alta Val di Non cycleway is a circular cycle path on the high altopiano of the Val di Non to the north-west of Trento. The Val di Non is one of Italy’s major apple-producing areas. In the Alta Val di Non (upper Val di Non) the apple plantations give way to hay meadows, and the valley sides become a gently-sloping bowl looking east towards the Val di Sole.
It’s a beautiful ride, with some fabulous views looking west towards Brenta Dolomites and the Alps of Lombardia. It’s probably a route that will be of most interest to people who are staying in the area, but you could include it as a side-trip in a longer route crossing between the Trentino and Südtirol via either the Passo della Mendola (Mendelpass) or the Passo delle Palade (Gampenpass).
At a glance
19 kilometres (plus 4 kms if you start and finish in Malgolo)
Mainly easy, but the eastern half of the cycleway is more challenging: there are no big climbs on this section of cycleway, but quite a lot of smaller ones.
Almost entirely traffic-free except for when the route passes through villages.
Entirely on paved cycleways or roads.
Options and variants
The route can be ridden in either direction. There is also a cycleway that links with the village of Malgolo.
The nearest train station is at Mostizzolo, 20 kms from Fondo
Distance: this guide isn’t divided into daily stages, as people differ in how fast and how far they want to travel each day.
‘Traffic-free’: many cycle routes include sections with roads with restricted access for residents or people working on the adjoining land. You may, very occasionally, encounter an agricultural vehicle like a tractor pulling a trailer of hay, but most of the time there is no motorised traffic. They are often indistinguishable from the cycleways that are legally set aside for the exclusive use of cyclists and pedestrians.
Map and altitude profile
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|Fondo to Romeno||6 kms kms|
|Romeno to Romeno||6 kms|
|Romeno to Cavareno||3 kms|
|Cavareno to Malosco||4 kms|
|Malosco to Fondo||1 kms|
|Malgolo variant||2 kms|
About this table
The table doesn’t necessarily show the distances from one city centre to the centre of the next town — if a route skirts around a town the distances are measured to the nearest point on the route from the centre.
Getting there and getting back
The public transport options are relatively limited. The nearest train station is Mostizzolo, and it’s a reasonably straightforward climb from there to Fondo (an altitude gain of under 400m over 20 kilometres, although things get a bit steeper on the approach to Fondo).
You could also take the Mendelbahn funicular railway from Kaltern (Caldaro) in the neighbouring Etsch (Adige) valley to the Mendel and the Mendelpass, and then pick up the cycleway near Ronzone. There are plans for a cycleway to connect Fondo and Mendola, and (early 2019) part of this was already under construction, but the other part had run into difficulty because of opposition to the proposed route.
You could climb by road to the Passo di Mendola (Mendelpass) — altitude 1362m, but it’s a big climb from Kaltern (altitude 425m).
Options and variations
The cycleway can be ridden in either direction; the route through Fondo differs slightly due to the one-way system. This description starts at Fondo, but really you could start anywhere along the route.
What to see along the way
The main sights in the area are the Canyon Rio Sass in Fondo and the nearby Lago Smeraldo. There’s another canyon near Romallo: the Parco Fluviale Novella. However, they aren’t the sort of place you can briefly visit, in passing.
In more detail
Fondo to Romeno
The main square in Fondo (the Piazza San Giovanni) is a good place to start. While you’re there, take a look at the water-powered clock in the piazza. The four faces of the clock show: the time of day, the phase and aspect of the moon, the day of the week and of the month, as well as the signs of the zodiac.
Close to the clock, behind the tourist office information point, you can see a group of pictures by the Futurist artist Fortunato Depero (en.wikipedia.org: Fortunato Depero). Depero was an extraordinarily gifted and versatile artist — his most ubiquitous work is the distinctive bottle he designed for Campari Soda, which is still in production. Depero’s art collection went on to form the core of Rovereto’s MART (Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto.
Head downhill, passing the water fountain and Municipio and turn left onto the main Via 4 Novembre. The road through Fondo is narrow and can get quite busy.
The road takes you past the Bar Caffè Croce Bianca. It’s worth taking a moment to pull over beside the café to look at splendid fresco on its façade. The mural depicts Saint James dressed as a pilgrim, with a smaller figure on its knees in prayer in front of the saint. This is one of four frescos of the saint in the village. According to local legend, Fondo was struck by the plague in the fifteenth century. The surviving villagers went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, to give thanks to Saint James for protecting them, and when they got home, they decorated their houses with depictions of the saint.
You need to take the next right (Piazza Dante/Via Mazzini), just after the bend in the road. Look for the signs for Vasio, and a brown cycle route sign. (The Via Mazzini is one-way, so if you were cycling the route clockwise, you would come into Fondo on the Via Garibaldi).
There’s another mural on the wall on your right-hand side as you turn the second corner. It shows the Madonna and child beside Sant’Antonio Abate, San Leonardo and local saint San Vigilio (Saint Vigilius), the martyred first Bishop of Trento, and its patron saint.
After about half a kilometre you come to a crossroads where you keep straight on. A little further on, there’s a fork in the road, and the section of traffic-free cycleway starts on the right-hand fork.
The cycleway climbs gently towards a little white chapel, the Capella della Madonna Brusada, also known as the Madonna dei Pradei (Madonna of the Meadows). As you reach the top of the rise, the views open up of the Val di Sole and, in the distance, the Brenta Dolomites.
Turn left by the chapel and continue gently climbing and, after about 300 metres turn right. The next section takes you past Sarnonico, to your left and a little below, and on to the Bicigrill Tandem, which is a popular stop with both cyclists and villagers.
Off the route, in the centre of Sarnonico, there’s the renaissance Palazzo Morenberg, now restored and used as the offices of the comune. It’s not normally open, but you can see pictures of the interior on the council’s website (comune.sarnonico.tn.it).
From the bicigrill, the cycleway continues for three and a half kilometres through alpine meadows, until you come into Romeno — although the route avoids the centre of the village (and the main road).
Romeno to Ronzone
You continue from Romeno on quiet country roads for a kilometre or so until you come to a bridge that takes you over the SS43. The traffic-free cycleway resumes at the bridge.
On the other side of the bridge, there’s a branch of the cycleway that leads to Malgolo. This is more of a feeder route into the main cycleway: there’s a restaurant and a shop in the village, but otherwise, there’s no compelling reason to make the detour.
In the other direction, the cycleway heads for Salter. The route from here is much more up-and-down, but with no big climbs (the biggest involves an altitude gain of less than140 metres) and nothing particularly steep.
From Salter, you head back to Romeno, mainly on quiet roads. In Romeno, you come to a junction with the main road, with a hotel-restaurant on the other side of the road. To your right is the little church of Sant’Antonio Abate with its frescoed façade (and interior). Turn right; the ciclabile cuts between the church and the road and then heads for Cavareno.
On its way into Cavareno, the route passes the town’s Centro Sportivo Tennis Halle (where there’s a handy bar). After the tennis centre, you make a right turn onto the Via Marconi and then a left onto the Via alla Pineta. At the next junction turn right again (the Via alla Pineta and then the Via Belvedere). This is the most challenging part of the route with an altitude gain of nearly 90 metres over 1.8 kilometres — an average gradient of 5 per cent, although at some points it is steeper. To compensate for the climb, there are some great views on this section, (belvedere is the Italian for a scenic viewpoint).
When you to come to the main road near Sarnonico (in fact, on the boundary between Roncone and neighbouring Sarnonico), cross over (there’s a pedestrian crossing if you need it), and continue straight on the Via Italia, passing the Hotel Al Larice on your right. The road continues, downhill, into Ronzone.
Ronzone to Fondo
Coming out of Ronzone the road (now the Via Sant’Antonio) leads to a very scenic stretch of cycleway that takes you into Malosco, the last village on the route before it returns to Fondo.
Take the Via Miravalle, uphill, into the centre of Malosco. When you come to a junction with a water fountain, turn left onto the Via Marconi.
It’s downhill all the way from here into Fondo. When you come to a fork in the road, bear right, onto the Via Santa Tecla. The narrow road leads you past a church. At the end of the Via Santa Tecla, there’s a section of cycleway which brings you out onto the road where you turn right and follow the Via Garibaldi, and then Via Roma, into Fondo.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs etc
Tourist information websites with accommodation listings
The visitvaldinon.com website has an accommodation listing, as well as a search and book facility: visitvaldinon.com: accomodation. You could also use the regional tourist information website: visittrentino.info
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 are no hostels in the area (so far as I know).
There’s only one campsite in the area (but it’s a good one): the Baita Dolomiti in Sarnonico, a short distance from the bicigrill.
Places to eat
All of the villages along the route will have places to get something to eat or drink; however, there are only a few places directly on the route itself. These include the Bicigrill Il Tandem near Sarnonico, the Albergo-Ristorante Villa Nuova in Romeno and the bar at the Tennis Centre in Cavareno. There are lots of places in Fondo itself.
The Emporio del Ciclo is the only bike shop on the route. It also offers bike hire.
If you’re spending time in the region, it’s worth checking out the Trentino Guest Card. The major benefits for cyclists are free use of the train and bicibus services, as well as free entry to many museums and other attractions.
The card is available from participating accommodation providers (including hostels and campsites). For a list see: visittrentino.info: Guest Card: participating accommodation providers . You need to be staying for a minimum of two nights — but the website also suggests that you ask about the card even if you are only staying for a single night, as you can buy it for a
very special price. If you’re planning on doing a lot of sightseeing, you can also buy the card for 40€ for a week.
There’s a pdf map/brochure if you want to find out more. There’s also an app for Android/iOS.
Most of the holiday areas in the region have a local Guest Card that offers similar benefits.
Trains and buses
The regional train company (Trentino Trasporti) also operate trains in the region. There are two lines: one runs between Trento and Mezzana in the Val di Sole and the other between Trento and Bassano del Grappa. The company also runs some trains between Trento and Bozen (Bolzano).
Bike tickets on these lines cost 2€.
I don’t know whether the Trenitalia passenger and bike tickets are also valid on Trentino Trasporti trains, and vice versa. So it would be worth asking, or taking the safety-first approach by buying additional tickets for this part of your journey.
Note that in Trento the Trentino Trasporti station is next door to the main Trento station.
You can take bikes on the extraurbane buses run by the regional transport company (Trentino Trasporti). In general, these take a maximum of two bikes.
The Mendalbahn (Funicolare della Mendola) funicular railway runs every 20 minutes during the day, and the journey takes 12 minutes. Note that the space for bikes is limited.
General tourist information
- visitvaldinon.it (Italian) or visitvaldinon.com (en/de)
- visittrentino.info: Val-di Non
- visitvaldinon.com: Brochure: Itineraries through Culture, History and Nature
- For more information about the Alta Val di Non cycleway see regio.outdooractive.com: pista-ciclabile-dell-alta-val-di-non. The same article is available on the visittrentino.info: pista-ciclabile-dell-alta-val-di-non. It only seems to be available in Italian, but you can use Google/Bing Translate
The visittrentino.info regional tourist information website has a useful page on taking your bike on public transport in the region: visittrentino.info: cycling-and-public-transport. For information on taking your bike on Trentino Trasporti trains see: Trentino Trasporti: Transporting Bikes
Trentino Trasporti timetables
You can download a pdf copy of the timetables for the Trentino Trasporti trains from the train section of the company’s website: trentinotrasporti.it: train.
Places and attractions
Maps to print out or view offline
About the maps
The maps are in two versions: A4 portrait format - for printing and maybe also for viewing on an iPad, and A5 for smaller tablets and smartphones. (A4 and A5 are international paper sizes).
Links open in new windows unless you ‘save as’ etc.
- Alta Val di Non cycleway gps files
(.zip file containing 4 gpx files)
- Italy Points of Interest
POIs are like waypoints, but while you can usually only store a limited number of waypoints on a device, you can store thousands of POIs. These files include information about campsites and hostels, bike shops, train stations, drinking water sources as well as warnings for tunnels and roads where bikes are banned. Please check the ReadMe file for instructions. Updated April 2018. The file format is only compatible with Garmin GPSes .
GPX? POI? WTF? … about the GPS files
The GPS downloads are zip files containing files with tracks and waypoints. You can use these with a GPS (eg a Garmin), or using an app on a smartphone or tablet. Depending on the software you use, the track files will display the route on a map, and let you view an altitude profile. The waypoint files show the location of places of interest, as well as other useful things like drinking water sources, train stations and campsites etc.
The track files will just display a line on a map; they won’t give you turn-by-turn directions.
The POI files will only work on Garmin GPSes. They work best on the handheld receivers (eg the eTrex family). They also work, but not as well, on the Edge cycling GPSes.