This is a fantastic off the beaten path itinerary in the Garda lake area, that will make you discover by bike delightful hamlets, ancient water mills and peaceful river banks. It’s a perfect family tour, my 9 years old boy was delighted to have accomplished such an “adventure” and spent hours staring at (and playing with..) the many water mills in Borghetto sul Mincio.
This post makes you explore the cycle path that runs along the Mincio river bank, southward from Peschiera del Garda down to Mantova. We will stop much before getting to Mantova, after 15 Km, at the beautiful Borghetto sul Mincio. Consider 60′-75′, at a very lazy pace to get there by bike.
The tour starts in Peschiera, where you can arrive by car or train. In case you don’t have a bicycle, you can rent one there.
Peschiera del Garda is located on the southern end of Lake Garda, in Italy’s Veneto region. The town’s sixteenth-century island fortress and walls were built on an island in the Mincio river at its outlet from Lake Garda, on the same location of Roman Ardelica. The fortress at Peschiera played a prominent part in most military campaigns conducted in northern Italy after 1400, especially campaigns conducted during the Napoleonic wars.
Today Peschiera is a pleasant tourist destination, with a much more laid back atmosphere compared to most famous Sirmione.
Before starting our biking tour, you may spend some time discovering the fortified little town, its canals and nice views on the Garda lake.
Once you are done, go to Via Roma and exit the fortified walls from the arched passage. Turn left, follow the canal and after 100 meters you will see the cycle path descending towards the Mincio river right bank.
From now on, the cycle path goes on lazily on a paved road (no cars allowed after the first 500 meters). Along the road you will meet fishermen, old canals, weirs, weat fields, ducks (many ducks!). There are a couple of bars along the road, but you’d better bring lots of water, especially during summer time.
After roughly one hour, you will spot the Scaliger Castel of Valeggio sul Mincio. Ten more minutes and you will arrive to the beautiful Borghetto sul Mincio.
The creation of the villages of Valeggio (on the hill) and Borghetto (on the Mincio river banks) dates to the Lombard rule in northern Italy. The monastery of Santa Maria was founded here, on the Mincio shore, in the 12th century; later it became a priory of the Knights Templar. The large medieval fortifications which characterize Valeggio (Scaliger castle, the Visconti Bridge and the Serraglio difensive line) were built between the 13th and the 14th centuries. In 1405 Valeggio became part of the Republic of Venice, and subsequently lost its strategic role, becoming an agricultural center and a silkworms trading market.
In ancient times, Borghetto used to be the only crossing point on the River Mincio between Peschiera and Mantova. Hence its military and economic importance. But the real characteristic of Borghetto are its many water mills, centuries old, that can still be admired in the old hamlet.
Borghetto is now a delightful place, included in the “Most beautiful italian hamlets” list.
After all this road and all these emotions, you deserve a good lunch. I strongly recommend the Antica Locanda Mincio, where you can savor delicious local dishes (do taste the duck ravioli with truffles!), under the trees, with a fantastic view on the Mincio river and on the old Borgetto mills.
After visiting Borghetto, you can spend some time having a look at the Visconti bridge, at Valeggio sul Mincio (up the hill on top of Borghetto) and at the beautifull Parco Giardino Sigurtà (recommended in spring, to admire the flowering of thousands and thousands tulips and iris).
To get back to Peschiera just ride back on the same cycle path.
Tip for the laziest: Borghetto can also be reached by car from Peschiera, and you can have a walk on the river banks even without renting a bike.
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