“We commenced work and are proud of the result: now we are waiting for the other town councils to follow suit”. The mayor of Limone sul Garda, Franceschino Risatti, is talking about a stretch of cycle path on Lake Garda that some (perhaps rightly) have called the most beautiful in the world. He puts down its successfully completion to the fact that his council in the province of Brescia “does things instead of wasting time just talking about them”.

And so now we have a two-kilometre cycle path suspended over the lake: a 2.6-metre wide work of art hanging from the side of the mountain 50 metres above the water. Walkers and cyclists may well imagine that they are on a road to paradise: imposing mountains on one side, yachts in the background on the other, and a view of the lake that changes at every turn yet always resembles a painting by Tintoretto. On Saturday 14 July at 5pm the Limone stretch of the cycle path will be officially opened to the public by transport minister Danilo Toninelli, taking the total length of the path to about 12 kilometres. It will be a celebration but will also serve as a reminder. “I have invited all the mayors of the lakeside towns,” continued the mayor of Limone, “and I hope that looking at our track will inspire them to start work too. Every year 1.3 million tourists come here, especially from northern Europe, and the cycle path is an attraction that could boost their numbers for the benefit of the whole local economy”.

The ultimate aim is to complete the Alto Garda track, 80 kilometres of paths dedicated to bicycles and walkers linking Tremosine (province of Brescia) to Brenzone on the Verona side of the lake, passing through Riva and Torbole (Trentino). A few sections are already underway, and others are planned, but almost all have received funding from regional councils or the government. This was hardly surprising, considering the costs involved: “This short stretch of suspended runway,” explained project manager Silvano Flessati, “cost us €5 million, and about half of this went on securing the mountainside with protection nets against falling rocks. Just imagine this: to lay the concrete base sections we decided to use a helicopter, since the path runs parallel to the Gardesana main road, which we decided not to close to traffic at any point. As well as helping tourism and the local economy, this was an important engineering challenge”. What we see now is completion of the first phase of the project, while the final (and much more ambitious) part envisages a track around the entire perimeter of the lake, the “Lake Garda Cycle Path”. Don’t hold your breath, though – it’s unlikely to be completed in our lifetime.

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