Cycling amongst lakes and blossoming apple orchards, soaking up the springtime!
A morning on the cycleway, from Caldonazzo lake to Borgo Valsugana
SPRING/SUMMER - If you’re a cycling enthusiast you’ve probably already heard of the Valsugana Cycleway, a long bicycle route between the town of Pergine Valsugana in Trentino and Bassano del Grappa in the Veneto. Eighty kilometres of pedalling pleasure, through apple orchards, fields and mountain hamlets, following the shores of Caldonazzo lake and then the meanders of the Brenta river. Quite an easy itinerary, guaranteeing some much-needed exercise after the long winter and a feast for the senses.
To start, the best option is to try the first stretch between Pergine and Borgo Valsugana (about 30km). An easy cycle that we tried on a spring morning, just as the bright May sun started to warm the lakes and valleys.
Here’s how it went!
A few days before setting out we contacted some bike sharing services for the trusted bicycles that would take us on our adventure. In the Valsugana there are two facilities that offer this service: In Bike Valsugana and Valsugana Rent Bike, with various pick-up and drop-off points along the cycleway.
At 8.30 on the morning of our cycle, we caught the train to the lakeside town of San Cristoforo al Lago, a borough of Pergine Valsugana. From the station we made our way to Villa Sophie (a 2-minute walk) where we picked up our bikes. Then, just enough time to latch our helmets and we were off!
The Valsugana Cycleway passes nearby, just behind the train station. However, along this first stretch the route it isn’t well sign-posted so we asked for information from the rental staff.
Cycling along the lakeshore
The first stretch of the cycleway is truly exciting. You pedal down a gangway along the shores of Caldonazzo lake and you get the sensation that you’re skimming over the surface of the sparkling sunlit waters.
Be careful however, as at a certain point you reach a level crossing and a junction where the route splits into three. To stay on the cycleway, you have to take the middle, narrower, path called Via dei Zeloni. It stretches between the trail that hugs the shore line and the main road. If you’re on the right path, after a few minutes you’ll pass the Valcanover hotel & restaurant. Keep left and continue under the railway bridge until you pass the Mezzolago hotel.
From there continue straight until you find yourself back at the lakeshore and along another exciting gangway. This is a rather long stretch that takes you to the town of Calceranica al Lago.
Here the cycleway is briefly interrupted and you have to make your way for a short distance through the town. Follow the signs for Caldonazzo lake and they’ll lead you back to the shoreline along the Via Lungo il Lago (this stretch is also open to vehicles).
Now you’ll find yourself right on the lakeshore where, if you want, you can take a mid-morning break. That’s what we decided to do and we stopped and enjoyed a refreshing glass of fresh apple juice. That juice, tangy and scented, was just a small taste of what lay ahead!
Amongst the apple blossom
Now hop back in the saddle and stay on the path that skirts the shoreline (Viale Venezia). Once you reach the Caldonazzo Sailing Club, turn right onto Via al Lago. After a few minutes, you’ll come to a narrow, tarmacked road on your left that runs along the fields, this is Via Andanta. Take it and follow it. At a certain point this road crosses the national road, keep your eyes open as you have to stay on Via Andanta which, at the crossroads, is the road that opens to your right.
You’ll know you’re on the right track as you’ll find rows of apple trees in full bloom on either side. It’s one of the parts of the cycleway that we enjoyed the most.
Continue along Via Andanta, following the signs for the cycleway, and it will take you to the town of Levico Terme. You won’t actually enter the town, but flank it as you continue along your path that, from here on in, follows the river Brenta.
Following the Brenta river
You follow the course of the river until you reach the Bicigrill Big Fish. Here you can take a break, get some information and maybe get your bike checked. Indeed, these “Bicigrill” are refreshment points found along all the cycleways in Trentino offering a wide range of services for cyclists.
If you want to keep going, you can continue for a short distance along the cycleway as far as the Bicigrill Novaledo.
The cycleway from the town of Levico onwards is very well indicated, just keep your eyes open when you reach the town of Borgo Valsugana. When your reach the roundabout outside of town, you’ll have to leave the cycleway and follow the directions for the town centre.
This is another stretch of the cycleway that we greatly enjoyed. You cycle through this magnificent riverside hamlet, with footbridges and porticos overlooking the Brenta river. Here you can stop for lunch in one of the many taverns and take it easy for a while. We only stopped for a short while as we decided to continue as far as the Bicigrill Castelnuovo, not far out of town.
And here our adventure ends. We tucked into sandwiches with speck ham, accompanied by a cold shandy and then, in the early afternoon we returned to Borgo Valsugana. Here we were able to drop off our rented bikes as agreed with the rental service that has a number of drop-off points along the cycleway, and returned to Trento by train.
If however, you want to continue on your two-wheeled adventure, from here there are two options: continue at least as far as the town of Tezze di Grigno, where you’ll find the last Bicigrill inside Trentino or you can do a round trip and cycle all the way back to San Cristoforo al Lago to drop off your bike.
Contact bike rental services before your departure and make sure that pick-up and drop-off points are agreed in advance.
Take time to study the route you wish to take before setting out. Be careful at the forks and crossroads near Calceranica, Caldonazzo and as you come into Borgo Valsugana.
The route is easy and mostly level and, at least as far as Borgo Valsugana, is suitable for everyone, even inexperienced cyclists. If you get tired you can always take the train back from any of the towns you pass through along the way.