Lake Garda in Italy
Riding on the edge

So keen are the Italians to create a new iconic route for bike riders that they have gone right over the edge to make it a reality.

Lake Garda is a large, spectacular body of water in Italy’s north – just the sort of lake you would want to ride a bike around.

There are roads, but they can be too busy and only the bravest would ride on them.

And in places – were there are spectacular cliffs that plunge down to the water – there is not space for a trail.

The solution: hang the bike path off the cliff.

By 2021 there will be a 140 km circuit around Lake Garda that is expected to attract large numbers of riders to the local regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino that border the Lake.

The project will cost $150m AUD, an indication of how importantly cycle tourism is valued in Europe.

The Councilor for Economic Development of the Lombardy Region, Mauro Parolini, said the decision recognised "the strategic importance and the national interest of the circuit, the international tourist value and the economic impact on the territory".

The authorities see the new route as both an alternative, and complementary to, motor vehicles, buses, and ferries that already serve the area, boosting sustainability, but also providing multimodal travellers with a new experience of the lake.

They see a positive economic impact for restaurants, accommodation, museums and archaeological sites .

Importantly they expect to see “deseasonalisation”, with bike riders increasing the number of visitor arrivals in spring and autumn.

The project will also complete links to many existing cycle routes and paths, including a connection with the Ciclovia del Sole, the Italian part of Euro Velo 7 – the Central Europe route.

It will also link to the Ciclovia Vento, the route from Venice to Turin, the Italian part of Euro Velo 8 Mediterranean Route from Cadiz to Cyprus.

The prospect is a long-distance national Italian network of over one thousand kilometers, directly connected to the European cycle network, which overall has about 12 million riders eager for new places to visit.

The project will be undertaken by the local municipalities of Brescia, Mantova, Verona, and Trento.

Garda By Bike will be marked by a uniform signage in all the territories crossed, including already existing routes, both municipal and provincial.

And this will make veteran cycle tourists particularly happy: paper maps will be available.

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