We have picked out 6 of the 23 legendary climbs in Trentino, just for you.
Champion cyclist Francesco Moser used to say that no roads are impossible for a person on a bike: with patience, determination, and a healthy dose of initiative, any hill can be conquered. Make that a good racing bicycle, add in a bottle of cool water, and you've got everything you need to set off.
Every climb is an adventure. Every corner that you round, every bump in the road, brings you closer to your goal. Cycling uphill is a crescendo of sensations.
Cycling is not just about great sporting accomplishments or putting yourself to the test against a competitor or even against the clock: it’s about journeying for the sake of pure personal pleasure. Breathe in the scent of the fir trees as you cycle through nature, feasting your eyes on green pastures, blue skies or the reassuring immensity of the hills, before the road finally levels out and the climb is complete.
The end of the climb is the perfect moment to admire the destination you’ve reached, pausing to appreciate the simple pleasures: the company of other cyclists, the fresh air blowing up from the valley, the feel of the asphalt, the sound of your own breath. When you cycle in Trentino, it’s nature that sets your rhythm.
We’ve picked out 6 unmissable ascents from the Legendary Climbs. These are 23 itineraries that you can travel in Trentino, each signposted throughout with indications of how many kilometres you’ve covered and the altitude you’ve reached. They are landmarks in the world of cycling and provide the venues for races that are famous all over the world, like the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of the Alps.
#1 The Rolle Pass Climb
The Rolle Pass, ascended from the Primiero side, was the first Alpine Pass added to the route of the Giro d’Italia in 1937. Gino Bartali was the first to make it to the top, and claimed victory in that year’s race. The route is 23 kilometres long and goes through the heart of a landscape like no other: on the right, the Pale di San Martino; on the left, the Lagorai range. After the village of San Martino di Castrozza, there are about 9 kilometres left before the peak, part of which consists of a series of hairpin bends. Cyclists who make it to the pass, an altitude of 1,970 m a.s.l., will be rewarded with an unrivalled view of the white peaks of the Pale di San Martino.
#2 The Gardeccia Climb
The Gardeccia is a short but challenging climb. Although it is just over 6 kilometres long, it has walls of up to 17% and an average slope of 10%. From the starting point at Pera di Fassa, cyclists are immediately faced with a number of steep stretches that require a certain agility. This lasts until Baita Regolina, where the street grows narrower and climbs further again. The kilometre-long section of straight road with a slope of up to 17% is the crucial stage: this is where you’ve got to hang on in there. Finally, the majestic beauty of the Torri del Vajolet in the home stretch will wipe all traces of fatigue from your mind.
#3 The Polsa Climb
The Polsa climb is often underestimated because of its relatively modest slope, but its 19 kilometres make it a force to be reckoned with. To conquer this Alpine giant, it’s essential not to use up all your energy at the start. The toughest stretch of the climb has a slope of 10%, which really makes itself felt. This is where Vincenzo Nibali laid the foundations for his ultimate victory in the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
#4 The Menador Climb
Although it has never featured on a multi-stage race, the Menador climb holds a special place among the legendary ascents of Trentino. It is one of the region’s most beautiful roads, and not only for lovers of cycling. Just 8 kilometres long, but with some stretches reaching a slope of 13%, it forms a narrow and twisted pathway through the rocks. It begins at Caldonazzo in Valsugana and leads to the forts of Lavarone and Vezzena. At around the halfway mark, a viewing point that offers a bird’s-eye panorama of the lakes of Caldonazzo and Levico is definitely worth a stop.
#5 The Monte Bondone Climb
The Monte Bondone climb has a remarkable history, famous among cyclists all over the world. This was where Luxembourg champion Charly Gaul made his epic, solitary uphill struggle during the 1956 Giro d’Italia, under prohibitive conditions — it was even snowing on that day — to win the status of a true legend. The climb, which boasts 18 km with 38 hairpin bends, an altitude change of 1,485 m and a maximum slope of 17%, is a genuine test for the mind, the legs and the lungs. While pedalling, look downwards to admire a view of the Valle dell'Adige and the city of Trento. Alternatively, glance upwards for the reassurance of the finishing line: although it may seem that it never gets any closer, those who cross it will be rewarded with the joy that only the legendary cycling locations can provide.
#6 The Madonna di Campiglio Climb
The climb to Madonna di Campiglio carries both good and bad cycling memories: it was here that Marco Pantani won his last stage as a competitor, in 1999. Pantani’s arrival in the centre of Campiglio after that stage, alone in his pink jersey, is a memory treasured in the hearts and minds of many fans. Cyclists set out from Pinzolo in Val Rendena and climb for 15 kilometres, with slopes that are never less than cyclable: Pantani ascended at an average of almost 30 km/h, but amateurs would be well advised not to get carried away. The final two kilometres, less steep than the others, are a chance to relax and enjoy the unparalleled view of the Brenta Dolomites.