Can a trip around northern Italy’s wonderful Lake Garda get any more spectacular?
Yup, just hang a floating cycle path from the craggy cliffs, allowing riders to coast above its crystal-clear Alpine waters.
What could soon be Europe’s, if not the world’s, most beautiful bike path is being constructed 60 meters (197 feet) above the lake to complete a spellbinding 140-kilometer circular route.
The first sections of the €102 million ($124 million) project are expected to open in the summer of 2018, with the full circuit of the lake completed in 2021.
It’s likely to be a tremendous draw for cyclists who already travel to the region to enjoy riding in the foothills of the Dolomites and take part in events such as the classic Transalp mountain bike race.
Known as “Garda By Bike,” the 2.6-meter-wide path will circle the whole lake connecting three intersecting regions – Lombardy, Veneto and Trento.
The sleek steel and wooden route features elegant iron fences built as futuristic balconies with views of mountain peaks, boats sailing by and the picturesque villages that dot Lake Garda’s shores.
Thick steel poles drilled into the cliffs cling like artificial claws to support the catwalk, seemingly defying gravity. The path’s designers say it will blend into Garda’s stunning scenery.
Cyclists and pedestrians
Photos reveal Lake Garda's incredible new bike route
“We limited environmental impact by balancing, in an optimal way, design and safety needs with preserving the natural setting of the cliffs and shrubs growing on the rocks,” Antonio Lotti, chief engineer at Studio Fontana & Lotti-Lorenzi, tells CNN Travel.
Lotti says the path is already half-built and a strip of roughly five kilometers (three miles) near the town of Limone Sul Garda will open in early July.
Over-lake sections of the path will connect with more challenging sections that rise up into the hillsides, but these can be skipped using Garda’s numerous boat connections.
The good news is that the whole path won’t be exclusive to cyclists but also accessible to pedestrians.
Viewpoints and refreshment booths are expected to be built at a later stage to allow visitors admire sweeping panoramas of Italy’s most beloved lake and enjoy romantic sunsets.
The route is fated to become one of Italy’s top year-round tourism draws and has already been hailed as “Europe’s most beautiful bike ride” by local media.