This is a rather demanding trail, given the type of road surface, its length – it is over 40 km long – and the presence of steep, uphill stretches of road. Mountain bikes are strongly advised.
Both Lake Garda and the nearby hills are popular holiday destinations, and images of their picturesque towns can be found in every tourist magazine or postcard. In the countryside further inland however, there are some charming villages and hidden hamlets that most tourists have never even heard of.
These ancient towns were like small communities outside the walls of the more important towns. They were always founded near some sort of a resource, such as water springs, meadows or woods, and were usually only inhabited by a few dozen persons, all related to each other. They all had their little church, a fountain and a small square where everybody could meet. Most people never left the town, if not on very special occasions, usually to go to some nearby market.
Now these ancient villages are full of amazing country-houses. These once poor dwellings have been done up completely, and are now luxury homes that still manage to preserve some of their rural charm. This scenic route will lead you to the discovery of some of the most beautiful hamlets and villages in the plain of Caprino Veronese, inland from Lake Garda.
The starting point is in the town of Garda, at the bus stop near the La Perla Bike Hotel. The road leading towards the hamlet of San Bernardo passes near the ancient chapel of Saint Bernard before turning towards the Valley of the Mills. After winding through this natural park, the track reaches Castion Veronese, famous for its 18th-century Church of Saint Mary Magdalene and the splendid Villa Pellegrini Cipolla.
The route then heads towards Costermano, passing through the small, medieval hamlet of San Verolo. Its Chapel of St. Verulus used to be the parish Church of Castion. The following town is Pesina, and then, continuing along the road to Caprino Veronese, there is the village of Boi. This route does not lead into the centre of Caprino, but should you decide to visit it, interesting sites are its central square, where a weekly market has been held since time immemorial (in the past Caprino was famous for its cattle market), Palazzo Carlotti, now the local Town Hall, and the Parish Church of Saint Mary Major.
At the entrance of the town, the route turns left towards Lumini, and a rather gruesome road leads uphill towards the villages of Gaon, Rubiana, and Vilmezzano, known for the infamous Nazi roundup that took place on January 28, 1945 There are still some stone millraces, inside which flowed the water powering the gristmills built in this area. After passing in front of the chapel in Velmazzano, the trail continues with a breakneck descent leading to the Caprino-Spiazzi road.
On the opposite side of this road, another downhill stretch leads to the enchanting village of Pazzon. Worth mentioning is the 13th-century St. Martin’s Oratory, with its magnificent frescoes. Having crossed this tiny hamlet, the road continues towards the village of Porcino. When you reach its outskirts, you can park your bike and take the path leading into the woods, where there are some lovely waterfalls.
Porcino is also famous for its bricks and tiles factories. The lanes then lead up towards Gamberon and Rubiana, two villages that used to be renowned for their Verona Red Marble. After passing near a quarry, a long dirt track winding through fields and woods leads to Zuane first, and then Ceredello. A level, quiet road starts here, which passes through the centre of Gazzoli: this is where the cycle path starts that leads to Albaré.
A comfortable lane from its “ecocentro” then leads to the hamlet of Pertica. It is worth cycling up a short, steep stretch of uphill road to see the 12th-century Chapel of Saints Fermo and Rustico. A downhill road goes to Bardolino, on the edge of the lake; an easy, 3-km-long bike trail along the edge of the waters then leads back to the town of Garda.