An icon of Garda Trentino
Overlooking Lake Garda, it climbs precariously up the rocky wall of the Rocchetta, At each curve there is a breathtaking view of the water, and a new perspective, that opens on to the horizon, framed by the mountains. We’re talking about the Ponale Road, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful routes in Europe.
The Ponale Road (or simply “the Ponale”, as it is called by those who know it well) was created in the mid-19th century, designed by Giacomo Cis, a far-sighted and enterprising trader from the Ledro Valley. Well aware of how inconvenient the traffic of people and goods was between the valley and Riva del Garda, he decided, in his later years, to invest in a dream of his: the construction of a new, wide, modern road.
Indeed, at the time, those departing from the Valley of Ledro had to go down to the port of Ponale along a steep, narrow track and then reach Riva via the lake: this entailed a series of slow, complicated and difficult sections. But with the new road, all that was destined to change: for the Ledro Valley, the Ponale Road would mark the start of a new era.
Building the Ponale Road was a considerable undertaking, recognised as a prodigious feat of engineering. Work began on the road in 1847 and it was completed in 1851, including various tunnels that slightly soften the tortuous nature of the route. The first cars to climb it would struggle up it in 1891 and for every motorist the road would remain one of the most spectacular yet most feared routes until 1990, when it was definitively closed and replaced by the new connection via tunnel.
But such a spectacular route could not be wasted and so it was reopened by a local association in 2004 as a hiking and cycling trail. Since then, the Ponale Road has become one of the best loved hiking and cycling trails in Europe, a real must for every guest who chooses to spend their holiday in Garda Trentino.