Lake Garda, Italy. Advice needed.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Smile Lake Garda, Italy. Advice needed.

    Hi. After a bit of research on here and other websites on where to go in Europe this summer (sometime between June and September) with friends we've decided on Lake Garda (I gather the Riva Del Garda area is the best for riding). I'm just looking for some advice from those who have been there really. We're looking to organise things ourselves rather than have an all inclusive holiday (although this hasn't been ruled out completely) as I assume it will be cheaper but we'll probably still want a guide for the first few days. The kind of riding we usually do is technical XC (possibly all mountain) with as much singletrack as possible. If anyone could give me any advice or information on the following it would be appreciated:

    • Can anyone recommend a decent guide?
    • Any recommendations on accommodation?
    • How easy are the trails to navigate without a guide and does anyone have any route maps?
    • I presume there's enough riding for 7-10 days?
    • Is knee/elbow armour needed?
    • Any freaky weather between June and September I need to know about


    Any other information, photos from your trips or anything else would be useful too. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    I don't know of any guides personally (never needed them), but just go to one of the bike shops in Riva and they should find somebody.They also have shuttle van service if you'll need it.
    There is a really good guide book for MTB trails around Riva, it's called Moser guide, but last time I checked it was only available in german.This was a few years ago so things might have changed.
    Alpine trails are usually marked (numerically, not with names) very well in Italy because of the hikers.Anyway, it's not so easy to get lost if you pay some attention to the signs.
    I've never used it but I guess armour is not a bad idea since the a lot of the trails are really technical and rocky so falling can be a painful experience.And yes, you should have enough to do in those 7-10 days.
    As far as (cheaper) accomodations go, you have two options: camp sites and appartments.I recommend appartments, because the price difference is not that big, and it's really a plus to have a shower, bed, kitchen, a roof in case of bad weather... at your disposal when you come back after spending the whole day in the saddle.By the way, bike thefts are not uncommon around Riva so it's a good idea to bring the bikes into the appartment even if the house has a garage or cellar.Just bring a piece of nylon sheating or something to put on the ground under the bikes and clean the bikes a bit before taking them in so you don't make a mess in the living quarters.
    You can search for accomodation HERE, but there are more sites like this if you play with Google or any other search engine that you prefer...
    Weather?It's usually really nice during the summer, but keep in mind you're in the Alps and be prepared for unexpected weather, it can get cold in the mountains very fast, it can also get really windy around Riva, too (the upper part of the lake is a bit of a windsurfers' paradise).Depending on the winter you can still find snow on the higher trails in june.
    I have some photos from a trip in May 2003, you can check them out HERE.I have some pics showing the more rocky & technical trails somewhere but I cant's remember where I put them.
    All in all, I'd say Riva del Garda is not a bad option at all, I did prefer the trails around Livigno though.Mostly because we have more or less the same riding as Garda where I live and it's always good to see some variety when you go somewhere
    By the way, you can see a few pics from Livigno HERE.
    Kronplatz looked ok, too.We only had time for one ride which was not so fun uphill (asphalt & gravel roads) but it was a blast going down and there seemed to be some more really nice trails right next to the town according to the map.You can check the pics HERE.

    Marko

    P.S: Or you can come to Tolmin, Slovenia (right next to Italy) where I live and I can show you some trails here
    I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

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  3. #3
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    Thanks a lot for that, very helpful.
    I've had a look at your other suggestions but I think we'll stick to Riva Del Garda, the riding looks like what we're looking for.
    From the sound of it the trails aren't too difficult to navigate by ourselves then, I just didn't want to go there and then not make the most of our time.
    We'd already ruled out camping because of practicality so we'll try to get an apartment like you suggested.

  4. #4
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    accomodations

    We stayed in a monastary just above Lake Garda called, Stella Alpina. We were the only ones there and basically had our own private waitress for 3 days (her name was Grace). Anyhoo, very cheap accomodations but a bit out of the way up the mountain side. Don't know exactly where you will be....

  5. #5
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    Hello SBirch,

    Lake Garda is a very good place for MTB riding. With google you will find a lot of information.
    here are some useful links:
    www.gps-tour.info/index.html/sitelang.en/
    http://www.gpsies.com/language.do#6|...55350494384766
    http://www.trailhunter.net/englisch/...ail_garda.html
    www.lagobiker.it/default.jsp?ID_LINK=13&area=5
    If you have a NavSat you will find a lot of tours at gps.tour.info or gpsies.com.
    The best place to stay is Riva or Torbole. It is easier to find a Pizzeria or a retsurant in the evening there. There is a lot of appartments which have a closed room for bikes.
    At the tourist info you get a small map where some MTB tours are shown.
    Useful maps are:
    KOMPASS No. 096 Alto Garda Val di Ledro 1:35000
    KOMPASS No. 690 Lake Garda North
    KOMPASS No. 691
    You can byu these maps in Riva.
    You don`t need a guide there. You can take a look at the map and start. Or you can ask other biker. They will help you. And believe me there is a lot of them.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mootinator
    We stayed in a monastary just above Lake Garda called, Stella Alpina. We were the only ones there and basically had our own private waitress for 3 days (her name was Grace). Anyhoo, very cheap accomodations but a bit out of the way up the mountain side. Don't know exactly where you will be....
    Thanks, I'll have a search on google and see if I can find out more about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hufi
    Hello SBirch,

    Lake Garda is a very good place for MTB riding. With google you will find a lot of information.
    here are some useful links:
    www.gps-tour.info/index.html/sitelang.en/
    http://www.gpsies.com/language.do#6|...55350494384766
    http://www.trailhunter.net/englisch/...ail_garda.html
    www.lagobiker.it/default.jsp?ID_LINK=13&area=5
    If you have a NavSat you will find a lot of tours at gps.tour.info or gpsies.com.
    The best place to stay is Riva or Torbole. It is easier to find a Pizzeria or a retsurant in the evening there. There is a lot of appartments which have a closed room for bikes.
    At the tourist info you get a small map where some MTB tours are shown.
    Useful maps are:
    KOMPASS No. 096 Alto Garda Val di Ledro 1:35000
    KOMPASS No. 690 Lake Garda North
    KOMPASS No. 691
    You can byu these maps in Riva.
    You don`t need a guide there. You can take a look at the map and start. Or you can ask other biker. They will help you. And believe me there is a lot of them.
    Thanks for all the links. Look like we won't be stuck for riding. The trails listed on the lagoBiker website all look good, I'll just have to try and understand the Italian/German descriptions

  7. #7
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    Here some more links for accomodation:
    www.villaphoenix.com/
    www.appartamenticomai.it/
    www.gardalake.it/hotelpanorama/

    A good Pizzeria is in Torbole Al Porto

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the links Hufi.

    Quote Originally Posted by mootinator
    We stayed in a monastary just above Lake Garda called, Stella Alpina. We were the only ones there and basically had our own private waitress for 3 days (her name was Grace). Anyhoo, very cheap accomodations but a bit out of the way up the mountain side. Don't know exactly where you will be....
    I've had a better look at that hotel/monastery now and it looks quite good. Seems like there's trails down to Riva Del Garda too so its still fairly convenient.

  9. #9
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    Lake Garda is one of our favorite destinations, and we have been over 5 times.
    In fact, we were there last September. However, on this trip, we were only there for one
    ride. We were riding further north, but wanted to go to Riva for our favorite ride: Tremalzo.
    Here is my ride report with lots of pictures.
    http://biken4fun.blogspot.com/2007/0...de-salita.html

    You can do the Tremalzo a zillion different ways. So far, we've done 3 different routes of it.

    If you are looking for singletrack, you are not going to find it at Garda. But what you
    will find is lots and lots of climbing with jaw dropping views followed by long long descents. I do not know why people wear body armor out there. Unless in all our trips, we just keep missing that one heinous ride. But as far as people wearing armor for the Tremalzo ride, don't have a clue.

    Perhaps we are just stupid people, but we've never found navigating our way around the trails that easy and straightforward. Now that we have lots of experience there, we have figured it out. And gps helps. Even with detailed maps, we would often get confused. Rode with some Swiss riders on one ride, and they were just as confused. Fortunately, we had already done one part of the descent from Malga Grassi, and were able to confirm how the particular path went down.

    The local publication, LagoRider (I think that's the name), is a good mag, but is only in Italian and German. With a working knowledge of either language you can make out enough to help you. We have a good collection of those yearly publications, which has helped to compile a list of routes.

    We don't find too many english speaking people here, either in bike shops or otherwise. It really helps if you can speak some basic Italian, and know your bike words.

    The bike shop we always end up using is:
    http://www.carpentari.com/
    I usually take my own bike, but my husband has rented a number of bikes from them.
    Sometimes they are great, sometimes they are okay. You are going during high season, so I would reserve a bike. And even then, it may not be waiting for you when you get there. This is Italy afterall.

    The first 5 times we went were either May, or late Sept/Oct and we found it refreshingly laid back and void of crowds. However, last Sept we were there the first week, and were overwhelmed at the crowds. It threw us off a bit, but then we're not much for crowds.

    We stayed right smack dab in town last time, which is great if you don't ever want to fool with your car.
    Here is my review of the place.
    http://www.tripadvisor.it/ShowUserRe...lto_Adige.html

    The place where we normally stay, I share with great hesitation. This place is a gem and I want to keep it all to myself.
    http://lacolombera.it/
    Cousins, Antonio and Paulo, run this fantastic agritourism owned by their uncle, Zanoni. For the money you cannot find a better set up. We feel like family there.

    I have done a number of trip reports here on mtbr passion of our various visits to Garda, but I'm too busy right now to retrieve them.

    The only freaky thing about the weather there is if the winds die down and the pollution comes up thru the Piedmont Plain and just sits there, making things hazy. Keep your fingers crossed this doesn't happen, because you will be treated to magnificent views.

    If you do get an apt to stay in, which I recommend, you can eat killer meals straight from the local Coop (grocery). They have fresh pesto at the meat counter. Buy some packaged tortellini/ravioli (which is better than anything fresh you get in the US) and some fresh veggies and bread. And you will have a meal that will knock your socks off.

    In Torbole (town next to Riva) right on the water near the center of the action, there are great waterfront restaurants. All of these are great. We got fantastic meals there.
    We prefer Torbole for our base instead of neighboring Riva. Easier to get around for us. We could do all our rides from our hotel door from Torbole.

    And do take the gondola up to Mt. Baldo on a clear day if possible. Then you can ride down and over Altissimo. Beautiful from up there.

    Have a great trip!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Last edited by chocolate girl; 01-18-2008 at 11:34 AM.

  10. #10
    lidless ascender
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    Quote Originally Posted by chocolate girl
    If you are looking for singletrack, you are not going to find it at Garda.
    Chocolate girl, surely you ment this for uphill only, right?Because there's more than enough singletrack pointing down, a lot of it is really rocky and technical though.
    About those body armoured bikers...I'd say at least 80% just put it on to look cool/macho/hardcore bikers There's a mtb festival around may 1st and you always see loads of riders on high $$$ bikes wearing full body armour just cruising through Riva.As soon as you go more than 500m up you're alone.We never could figure out where all those bikers ride until we decided to try a mini trail from Monte Brione (a 300m height gain from Riva) and discovered the road up was clogged with all those guys stopping and panting at every turn of the road

    Marko
    I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by problematiks
    Chocolate girl, surely you ment this for uphill only, right?Because there's more than enough singletrack pointing down, a lot of it is really rocky and technical though.

    Marko
    Thanks for the correction. When I think singletrack, I'm thinking cross country singletrack, not all the gnarly rocky stuff that drops down everywhere. For that you don't need body armor, you need a nice bike with good suspension and disc brakes. First time I descended from Malga Grassi without disc brakes, my pads dissolved and all my fillings came out of my teeth

    Here in Georgia, we have loads and loads of lovely swoopy, zippy, fun-to-climb singletrack trails. I guess that's what I mean when I refer to singletrack. I suppose it's all relative. You're right, though. I'd never consider climbing most of the "singletrack" there. The singletrack I like is the few miles of it on the Tremalzo loop approaching Passo Rocchetta from the Passo Nota side, and then you drop down from Rocchetta for a few miles towards Pregasina. Fun stuff!

  12. #12
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    Kind of a hijack, but: has anybody here been out in the direction of Lago d'Idro? It's about 20 km to the northwest of Garda... Looking at it with the idea that the area (Val di Chiese?) is a little more devoid of people than Garda itself during the summer. Thanks!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by eric
    Kind of a hijack, but: has anybody here been out in the direction of Lago d'Idro? It's about 20 km to the northwest of Garda... Looking at it with the idea that the area (Val di Chiese?) is a little more devoid of people than Garda itself during the summer. Thanks!
    Haven't been that far over, but I'm guessing you better be fluent in Italian or German for that area if you want to communicate with anyone. I'm not keen at all on crowds, but even so, I still prefer being based closer to Torbole or Riva. Once you hit the trails, you won't be running into any crowds. We were there Sept 6, and it was wild n crazy with folks. Not used to that since we usually go during the off season. Even then, it didn't bother us when out on the bikes. Didn't have any problem getting food or sleep either.

    If you go, let us know all the hot tips and rides.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by chocolate girl
    The place where we normally stay, I share with great hesitation. This place is a gem and I want to keep it all to myself.
    http://lacolombera.it/
    Cousins, Antonio and Paulo, run this fantastic agritourism owned by their uncle, Zanoni. For the money you cannot find a better set up. We feel like family there.

    I have done a number of trip reports here on mtbr passion of our various visits to Garda, but I'm too busy right now to retrieve them.

    And do take the gondola up to Mt. Baldo on a clear day if possible. Then you can ride down and over Altissimo. Beautiful from up there.
    Cheers, for all of that. La Colombera looks really good, I guess I'll have to book soon if I want to stay there. I found some of your other posts on Garda too and now I can't wait to go, we'll be sure to go up Mt. Baldo too.

  15. #15
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    @ eric,

    Lago d'Idro is much more quiet as Lago di Garda, but there are some good trails in the south. You have to search for Monte Stino. This mountain has a lot of old military ways. It is also possible to ride over the mountains to Garda. In the tourist info you get small maps especially for mtb.
    When you want to go? Please don't go in August. This is high season for Italians. At this time its very difficult to find a free accomodation. The best time is June, July or end of September.

    Another good place for staying is Lago di Ledro. The lake is in the middle between the others.
    From there you can also ride the trails arround. The lake is higher as lake Garda. There are not so many people and the air is better.

  16. #16
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    @ chocolate & Hufi,

    Thanks for the replies. My Italian is limited to a couple of useless pickup lines, but my German is good enough to get by, so that's not a problem. I spent a couple of weeks in Sudtirol last August, and although it was pretty busy in the center of town (San Vigilio) the trails were pretty devoid of people.

    Accomodation was indeed a bit of a pain: we ended up renting a house from a farming family for an astronomic sum. Will try to book something before April this time! :-)

    Thanks everybody - will keep following this thread for more ideas.

  17. #17
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    Hi everyone. Thanks for all the info in here. I'm going to Torbole in early Oct and going solo. Can't wait! If anyone flew into Verona (my plan), how did you get from the airport up there? If by public transport, could you recommend something? If by riding, is it as flat as it appears on Google maps/earth, and is there a decent shoulder? (70kms on a 5" dual-squish with 2.35" knobbies and a travel case strapped to a rear mounted rack.. if you see me, offer water :-) If you arrived by car rental/hire, do you happen to remember seeing cyclists along the route? Many thanks!

  18. #18
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    I'm going to Lake Garda this may.. and have found lot's of singletracks gps tracks - Mountain bike tours on Garda Lake, Ledro Valley, Tremalzo, monte Baldo: mtb trails, gps tracks, videos

    I think it can help!

  19. #19
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    Garda is a great area!

  20. #20
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    Hi,
    I like the area of Garda, but I was there 5 years ago and was grest. This year I'm planning to go to the dolomites (Rosengarten and Latemar) with my family this summer: "camping & biking in the Dolomites". On the website, there's not much, but my friends-bikers say that in the Dolomites region there is a campsite where the downhill tracks are next to them, over where there are many mountain bike tours for any conditions.(Me and my Children…) This camping is camping Vidor Downhill - Camping Vidor in Val di Fassa - Dolomites, does anyone have experience?
    Mountain bike or downhill: Anyone has more infos? How many tracks and what level? (on the main website of this area fassa.com, there are… no info) There is some experience of you?

    Greetings Luuk

  21. #21
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    Garda is pretty much thought of as the Moab of Europe. You can do almost any kind of riding in the area. Not to mention that it's stunningly beautiful.

    The north end of the lake is the active outdoor area (ie cycling, hiking, climbing and wind surfing). As you go south it's more 'sunworship country' and less attractive, to me anyway.

    I just live about 3 hours north between Innsbruck and Salzburg but in Germany. We love going there as a winter get away.

    Oh, be prepared for lots of people! It's hugely popular on the lake. If you go a valley and/or lake west there are fewer people, other places to see and do things. Plus, it's usually less expensive and you can eat regional food instead of pizza all the time.

    Lastly, a MUST DO is Mekkis Bike and coffee shop. Their merchandise is fantastic!

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