The historical Ponale Road with stunning views of Lake Garda

By dangerousroads

Located in the Lombardy region of Italy, Strada del Ponale is one of the most beautiful historical panoramic roads in Europe. The road has been completely closed to motor vehicles since 1990.

Strada del Ponale


Where is the Ponale Road?

The road is located in the Province of Brescia, in the northern part of the country.

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). It was the only connection between Lake Garda and the Ledro Valley. 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 followed along the river Ponale and emerged at the waterfall “Ponale” along the present Gardesana Occidentale road. In 1851, the road was the same as today’s but with 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.

Is the Ponale Road open to vehicles?

In 1990, after the opening of the tunnel “Agnese,” the Ponale road was completely closed. Thanks to the wilfulness of the “Giacomo Cis” committee, it was reopened in 2004 to allow bikers and hikers to enjoy a wonderful view over Lake Garda.

How long is 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 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 Lake Garda’s northern shore. The road is quite busy, so in high season try to avoid weekends and public holidays. Halfway 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 Lake Garda in the background. The road is also famous for the military installations you can see along.
Pic: Gabriele Paris