One of the most suggestive and known bicycle itineraries in South Tyrol is without any doubt the Venosta Valley Cycle Path, connecting Resia Pass to Merano. We finally had the possibility to cycle in this valley and we took some time to pedal until the Swiss border along the Monastero Valley. Immersed in Nature and in the company of hundreds of other bicycle tourists, travelers and bikers, it was like cycling in paradise, with cured cycle paths, MTB tracks well signed and complete services for bicycle travelers, from renting to mechanics, from bike hotels to shuttle service.
From Resia Pass to Malles
The Venosta Valley Cycle Path starts at Resia Pass
, connecting Austria to South Tyrol and hosting the Adige river's first steps. Actually, the locality of Resia, a couple of kilometers before the border, north of the namesake lake, is the perfect starting point and the best part of the itinerary. The cycling track allows us to pass the border and enter Austria reaching safely Landeck.
From Resia, the main itinerary of the Venosta Valley Cycle Path follows the right shore of the lake. The first leg is on the road until the parking in front of the ski facility of Belpiano.
Crossing the road you are automatically out of traffic. The path follows the lakeshore, but the flat parts are not so many: up and downhill with majestic views on the lake Resia and its submersed Curon bell tower
, away from the opposite shore. A short and compact gravel leg and flat accompanies us until the woods and the dam, which we cross on the bikes.
By looking down you'll see the next leg of the trip in the Venosta Valley, passing by a campsite and reaching San Valentino alla Muta
. Now you'll have to deviate towards the right shore of the lake from the second lake, Lake Muta
. Once again the view is enchanting and you'll ride on up and downhills in the woods and the beautiful panoramas of the Alps. You'll ride in a biotope, so with due respect, you'll be able to walk on a path for some birdwatching
After a very short gravel part, you'll reach the end of the Muta Lake and from here cycling Venosta Valley is basically all downhill until Malles and beyond. Prepare your hands on the brakes because some legs are crazy downhill, The itinerary runs along the Adige river and it is on a dedicated road, except when you are in some little villages.
The first one is Burgusio
where, after a look at the square with the tall bell tower and the beautiful flowery decorations on the balconies, you'll have to be careful and turn right uphill for some meters and then right away on the left downhill towards the Prince's Castle
. This manor house dating back to the Middle Ages is towered by the Monte Maria Abbey
, which you can visit every Mondays and Thursdays in July and August for 3€.
The Venosta Valley Cycleway
continues on the side of the castle and in a few kilometers it reaches Clusio
, then Laudes
, where it connects with the cycling itinerary coming down from Switzerland through Monastero Valley
. From Laudes, you'll ride following the Adige river until the fortified locality of Glorenza
In order to reach Malles, the main center of this area and the last stop of the train coming from Merano, it's possible to choose between some alternatives. All are mixed terrains but not so busy and well signaled. These itineraries start from Burgusio, Clusio or Laudes. If you come from Resia Pass we suggest choosing the itinerary uphill from Clusio, visiting the historic center and going towards the train station in Malles, from where it's possible to reach Glorenza on a cycle path.
An alternative itinerary... downhill!
The alternative itinerary starts right after the one I just described: in Resia you take the gravel cycling and walking path following the left shore of the lake, reaching soon on a beautiful little beach with some tables and some touristic structures. The itinerary continues parallel to the lake and the statal road suspended on the lake. You reach Curon
where you cannot ignore the beautiful submerged bell tower, the symbol of the lake and of the area. This itinerary then leaves the shore to then cross the cycling path near the dam on Lake Resia.
In S. Valentino alla Muta you have to follow the signs of the cycling path towards Ultimo, turning left and crossing the statal road. Then you'll start a part uphill, ascending into fields on the East side of the valley. In the locality of Monteplai, you'll turn right finally on a sweet descent... but soon the roads flattens and enters into the woods. The last uphill part passes through Alsago (keep the right) and reaches, definitely descending, the last houses of Ultimo on a turn, then you'll immediately reach Burgusio. At the roundabout, you pass over the statal road and will enter a small village, then enter the itinerary described in the Venosta Valley Cycle Path.
This alternative allows riding on a ring that starts and finishes in Malles. In this case, I suggest climbing up to Resia Pass from the cycle path to then come back on this itinerary.
From Glorenza to Prato, at the foot of Stelvio
is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and it's not hard to understand why. The small center is closed by magnificent walls and the cycle path runs between the Adige river and the city bastions. Glorenza is one of the eight localities in Alto Adige boasting the title of "city" even if it counts less than 900 inhabitants
, and this is what the population is proud about. If you have some time, stop and have something to eat in the city or cross its center by bicycle, entering from one of its doors: it's worth it!
The Venosta Valley Cycle Path continues towards Sluderno
leaving behind the beautiful Glorenza. Passing by an artificial lake while the look wanders into villages on the mountains and old manners guarding the passage towards Austria. Coira Castle
is one of them: well preserved despite it dates back to the Middle Ages, it's located in Sluderno and you can visit it by reaching the deviation along the path towards the village.
The smell of the hay just cut and the sound of the water accompany the many bicycle tourists riding along this cycle path: the thoughts wander on the peaks of the Stelvio Pass and the Tessa Group mountains, still not in the sight.
In Spondigna, where a blue lake attracts many nature and tan lovers, the path becomes easy gravel while proceeding towards Prato and the road uphill to the highest Alpine Pass in Italy. The perennial snow covering the peaks above Stelvio instills a sense of profound respect for the Mountains and their infinite beauties. In Prato, the signs help to turn left where the path will be continuing in the Venosta Valley away from the Pass road.
Lasa and the marble
The countryside, wide and colorful, during summer, shows its results: apples, corn, and cabbage, for the production of sauerkraut.
You pass the fork to Oris, in German Erys, and you continue towards Lasa, the city of marble. In 1930 a small marble railway was built. On your bike, you will ride crossing the only rail and reach the doors of Lasa, where you can see what remains of the old aqueduct.
After leaving the village, the path is gravel again, descending in the valley. It's fascinating the view from the wooden closed bridge.
You will ride on the side of infinite apple trees on both sides of the Venosta Valley Cycleway. Just after the fork towards Vezzano,
a farmer had the brilliant idea to build a self-service table, where you can try apple juice and other local products from the valley... don't forget to always leave a correct sum! What really gets us is the variety of panoramas here, the number of bicycle tourists, children and grandparents included, the changes in the terrain and the beauty of the path, leaving many feelings in our hearts.
And suddenly... Castelbello
The Venosta Valley Cycle Path descends towards Merano on smooth asphalt. Some vineyards show their purple gems while our movements on the pedals are like a perfect dance. Castelbello
appears suddenly just above the path and our attention is stolen by the castle which was famous since the first years of the XIII century as a property of the family Von Montalban. Inside the castle you can visit some areas and an interesting exhibition about Claudia Augusta Way
. Behind Castelbello there is a road uphill towards Val Senales where you have another castle dominating the scene, Castel Juval
, the summer residence of the famous alpinist Reinhold Messner and one of the headquarters of the Messner Mountain Museum
The cycle path runs along the railway, where the colorful train of the Venosta Valley carries hundreds of bicycle travelers. The Adige river gains, kilometer after kilometer, a bigger flow rate, while passing by Naturno and Plaus.
The last hairpin turns towards Merano
If until now the elevation loss was constant, in these last kilometers the loss is drastic. After reaching a panoramic point on the lowest part of the valley, a series of hairpin turns towards the city starts, passing by a 5-stars area near Merano. A deviation allows crossing the Adige river and reaching on a mixed road the famous brewery Forst, but if you want to reach the city, ignore the deviation. merano, smaller than Bolzano, is rich in bicycle paths and many signs allowing you to visit the city on your bicycle. Being a living and beautiful little city, I suggest spending there at least one day... from Merano, you can start towards Trento o to Passiria Valley and its alpine itineraries along the beautiful cycle path