The historical Ponale Road with stunning views of Lake Garda’s shore
Strada del Ponale is one of the most beautiful historical panoramic roads in Europe. Located in the Province of Brescia, in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, the road is completely closed to motor vehicles since 1990.
Can you drive Ponale road?
Tucked away on Lake Garda’s northern shore, the road is mostly unpaved. It’s 4.6km (2.85 miles) long running from Strada Statale 45 bis (SS45bis) to Strada Statale 240 (SS240). The construction of this road was considered a marvel of engineering: it opened an easier way to the Valley through some tunnels and sharp U-bends. The ancient road in fact, was a rather steep, narrow and rocky mule-track that kept along the river Ponale and came out at the waterfall "Ponale" along the present Gardesana Occidentale road. The trail is prone to rock falls.
Is Ponale road worth it?
This road with truly amazing views is one of the biggest attractions of the upper Lake Garda. It offers great views of the Lake Garda’s northern shore. Half way up, there is a restaurant where you can enjoy the view and have some refreshments or something to eat. Be prepared for gravel roads and lots of traffic from other MTB'ers. The view is amazing and breathtaking. The landscape that you can admire during the downhill is unique: the road runs downhill surrounded by secular woods, and you always see Garda Lake in the background. The road is also famous for the military installations you can see along the trail.
When was Ponale road built?
The winding road, constructed according to the unbelievable plan of Giacomo Cis from Bezzecca (1782-1851), was originally built in the second half of the 19th century (from 1847 to 1851). On 1851, the road was the same of today's but there were only three tunnels to minimize the tortuosity, the road was narrow and the bends quite sharp. The road was adjusted and widened and the first cars passed on it in 1891. In 1990, after the opening of the tunnel "Agnese" the Ponale road was completely closed. Thanks to the wilfulness of the "Giacomo Cis" commitee it was reopened in 2004, to allow bikers and hikers to enjoy a wonderful view over Lake Garda.
Pic: Gabriele Paris