Verona Garda Bike

The Caprino plain and the moraine of Rivoli

Distance 39 km
Ground 90% paved – 10% dirt tracks
Trekking bike – Mountain bike

The trail is approximately 39 km long and can be considered of intermediate difficulty. The length of the route and the presence of a few, rather demanding uphill stretches of road require cyclists to be fairly fit and have a bike with a good set of gears.
Starting from Bardolino, the road goes towards Garda. The first 3 kilometres are a pleasant ride along a bike trail, far from the traffic. Having reached Garda (1), the route passes in front of the Parish Church of Saint Mary (Santa Maria Assunta) (2), and after a short leg along the main road, starts to rise gently, passing in front of the La Perla Bike Hotel. This secondary road runs near the woods at the foot of the nearby cliffs, passes by the chapel of St. Bernard (3) and after about 2 kilometres becomes a dirt track, taking to to one of the hardest legs of this route: a difficult half-kilometre leading to Costermano, near the German military graveyard (4). At this point the trail becomes easier: the ground is fairly level, and only goes uphill when heading towards the old part of the town. After passing in front of the Parish Church of Costermano (5), you turn left near the cemetery and take the narrow dirt track leading to the Valley of the Mills (6). Soon after, you reach the summit of the valley: the road continues with a short downhill stretch that leads to another difficult hill, albeit shorter than the previous one (only about 300 m long). The next village on the road is Castion Veronese: if you turn left, the paved road soon becomes a dirt track, at the end of which there is the Chapel of the Madonna del Soccorso (Our Lady of Perpetual Succour) (7). The road then turns right towards the village of Castion Veronese, where we advise you to visit the Church of Saint Mary Magdalen (8) and the majestic, Eigtheenth-century Villa Pellegrini Cipolla (9). The route then becomes easy: travelling down the main road, heading towards Costermano, you will go through the ancient hamlet of San Verolo, where you will find the old Church of Saint Verulus (10), and then reach the town of Pesina. From there it is only a short ride to Caprino Veronese (11): near the town cemetery you will find a pleasant bike trail leading to Ceredello first and then Rivoli Veronese (12), from where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the ancient Austrian strongholds (13). Another bike trail links Rivoli to Affi, a town at the foot of Mount Moscal (14): you will pass near the 12th-century Chapel of Sts. Fermo & Rustico (15), before tackling a steep downhill stretch leading back to Bardolino.

(1) The name Garda comes from the Lombard word warda, meaning lookout, an elevated place or structure affording a wide view for military observation. The name evidently alludes to a fortress built on the summit of Rocca di Garda, the cliff overlooking this town, at the time of the first barbarian invasions. Documents dating back to the Eight century refer to the nearby lake as Lake Garda instead of Benaco, its ancient name. Garda is a small village, but is extremely interesting from a natural, historical and artistic point of view. The old part of the town is characterised by its narrow streets, and a harbour where countless sailing and fishing boats are moored. In Garda, as well as the magnificent historical centre, you can admire:
- The Clock Tower, which is the main entrance to the ancient part of the town;
- Palazzo Fregoso, built in the Sixteenth century by a warlord of the time, Cesare Fregoso;
- The Church of Saint Stephen, most certainly erected before 1687, the year chiselled on an external wall;
- The Queen Adelaide lakefront, the Captain's Palace (Palazzo del Capitano) and the Losa (marina) of Palazzo Carlotti (16th century);
- Villa Albertini, set in an enviable position, at the centre of the Gulf of Garda;
- Villa Canossa, dating back to the Sixteenth century.

(2) The Parish Church of Santa Maria Maggiore was built in the Eighteenth century on the remains of another religious building. The cloister, dating from the 10th century, is one of the oldest in this area, since a chapter of monks already lived here at that time. The church was rebuilt after the 1117 earthquake and restored in 1824. The bell-tower was erected in 1571. Traces of the ancient medieval structure are visible there and in the cloister.

(3) The origins of the chapel of St. Bernard in Garda are shrouded in mystery. According to the lore, the church was erected in honour of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), who reached Garda from Manerba, on the opposite shore of the lake. Historians suggest that the church was built around the 14th-15th century.

(4) The German Military Cemetery contains the remains of 21,951 Germans, mostly servicemen who lost their lives during World War II. The bodies come from various other graveyards and war cemeteries located in northern Italy. It is the third largest cemetery in our country for number of graves.

(5) Built originally as a small rural church linked to the Pieve (a church with a baptistery) of Saint Mary in Garda, it became the Parish Church of Costermano between 1485 and 1497. The church we see today was only constructed in 1850. The building has a gabled façade with the bell-tower partially incorporated into the western side of the church.

(6) The Valley of the Mills is so called because in this area flows the Gusa-Tesina, a creek beside which there used to be numerous water mills. Nowadays only one remains, which dates back to the Seventeenth century. Interesting plant species grow in this valley, including the rare Gypsophila papillosa, a flower commonly known as “baby’s breath”.

(7) This chapel is located between the towns of Virle and Marciaga in the place where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a deaf-mute shepherd boy, giving him a roll of bread that miraculously cured him. This event, believed to have occurred in the early 16th century, would have spurred the locals to build a Romanesque chapel, which was first enlarged in the late 1500s, and once again about a century years later. A Baroque ciborium stands over the polychrome marble high altar, dating back to 1765, inside which is treasured an early 16th-century wooden table depicting the apparition of Our Lady to the shepherd. Recently restored, the church is open for all the main Marian festivities. To visit the interior of the church you must ask the parish priest for the keys, or the sexton living nearby.

(8) Castion was already a parish in 1456, independent of Garda, but had no church, and its inhabitants had to attend mass in San Verolo. The current church, designed by Ignazio Pellegrini and built in 1752, is late Baroque, and the façade is adorned with two series of four lesenes, one on top of the other, a beautiful marble portal embellished with statues of angels surrounding Mary Magdalene, and on the top, statues of Saint Florian and Saint Verulus. The church was consecrated in 1812, and is dedicated to Mary Magdalene. It has a single nave, and its vaulted ceiling was frescoed by Domenico Paleus.

(9) Villa Pellegrini Cipolla is a splendid Eighteenth-century mansion located in the charming village of Castion Veronese. A beautiful park and magnificent Italian gardens surround it. The aristocratic family of the Pellegrini has been living in Costermano, where it owns many estates, since the Sixteenth century. The building of Villa Pellegrini Cipolla started in 1760 under the supervision of Ignazio Pellegrini, a brother of the client. In recent years, after Giancarlo Pellegrini Cipolla restored the stables and barnyards, it has become the venue for meetings, wedding receptions, soirées, exhibitions and fashion shows.

(10) The ancient church in Castion, built presumably in the Twelfth or Thirteenth century, became a Parish church in the Fifteenth century and was dedicated to Saint Verulus, martyred at Adrumentum in the Fifth or Sixth century. The building was erected on a pre-existing church of Romanesque epoch which had the apse facing southwards (the current one faces north), and was extended and restored in the 16th century and in 1905. In a niche in the wall on the right hand side, there is a fresco of a «Madonna and Child» dating back to the late Fourteenth century. In the churchyard there is a tombstone with a cross in relief and an indecipherable gothic inscription from the 14th century.

(11) Caprino, a charming town at the foot of Mount Baldo, deserves a visit, because of its interesting art and the magical atmosphere surrounding it. Many populations settled here, such as the Etruscans, Franks, Goths and Romans. The latter civilization re-built the town, called at the time “Caurin”, making it the borough of the county and an important centre for the working of iron. In 1700 the Republic of Venice issued a charter, allowing Caprino to hold a weekly market. This town is located in an ideal area, at the foot of Mount Baldo, not too far from Lake Garda, and is surrounded by a spectacular landscape, with vineyards, picturesque hamlets, mountain villages and panoramic paths. The splendid Seventeenth-century Villa Carlotti, in the heart of the town, deserves a visit.

(12) Rivoli has always been an important crossway for whoever went from northern Europe to the Mediterranean and vice-versa. Paleolithic tracks were soon replaced by the Claudian way or Via Claudia Augusta, and in the Middle Ages, by the imperial route. The first settlements however date back to Neolithic times. A stronghold was already present on the summit of the cliff of Rivoli in 1100; the first important battle only occurred on January 14, 1797, when the troupes of Napoleon clashed with the Austrian army. During the first Italian war of independence, Rivoli was at the centre of new campaigns, and in 1848 divisions of the Piedmont army fought victoriously against the Austrian troupes led by General Radetzky. In the environs of Rivoli, another fortress was built between 1850 and 1851, on the peak of the hill known as Mount Castello. Together with the strongholds in Ceraino and Monte, it served to protect the roads leading from Affi to Rivoli and connecting Lake Garda to the river Adige.

(13) The strongholds of Rivoli and Pastrengo are a group of eight forts built by the Austrian empire between 1849 and 1861. Four of these are perched on the moraine hills surrounding the town of Pastrengo and the other four protect the Adige narrows between Rivoli and Ceraino.After the annexation of Veneto in 1866, these strongholds passed into the hands of the Royal Army of the Kingdom of Italy.

(14) Mount Moscal is situated near the town of Affi. In the Nineteen Sixties, an underground bunker was built inside this hill by the NATO forces, codename: West Star. This military installation was only shut down in 2007. With its 13,000 sq.m it was allegedly the largest bunker in Italy, capable of accommodating up to 500 persons – both civilians and military – if war burst out. It was supposed to serve as a control centre in the event of nuclear, chemical or bacteriological attacks. The base was also equipped with electromagnetic protection (EMP) shields to ensure communication security.

(15) The Chapel of Saints Fermo and Rustico was built around the Twelfth century and entrusted to a hermit living in a house nearby. From the year 1800, in this little church perpetual plenary indulgence was granted for every mass celebrated in memory of the deceased. The chapel however fell into ruin, and was raided by numerous thieves. Recently however it has been restored and is now open to the public.

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