What is Pavé Plus?
The VIA Claudia Augusta trail is a prime example of PavePlus. It follows the path of a Roman road constructed in 15BC to improve the transport of military personnel and supplies to Roman occupied lands in southern Germany. It took the Romans 60 years to complete the road. Now, the route has been recreated by sewing together paved bike paths and dirt and gravel trails that follow the original route.
Donauwörth, Germany is the starting point for an adventure crossing the Alps and ending in Venice, Italy. Winding its way through farmland and vineyards to the foothills of the Alps at Fussen, Germany, the route then passes into Austria and starts the climb over the Alps and the Italian Dolomites.
Some of the climbs are quite steep between Fussen and Prato Allo Stelvio in Italy. The steepest climb comes just after the beautiful town of Pfunds proceeding to Reschen Pass, which is the high point of the traverse. The Austrian bus system has bike racks and at any bus stop you can put your bikes on the bus and skip any section you find too steep.
This is a route that has a mixture of gravel and dirt roads until it crosses into Italy where it becomes a fabulous dedicated, paved bike path. It is a perfect route for a Paveplus bike that has the fun and performance of a road bike for the paved sections and the wide tires of a gravel bike for the unpaved sections. As the route passes into Italy, people in the area still speak predominately German. So signs and place names will be marked in both Italian and German.
After passing by the man-made Lago di Resia, flooded for electric power generation in the 1950s, the route goes through the perfectly kept medieval town of Glorenza. The trail runs continuously downhill until it reaches the sea at Venice. The downhill sections of the route, once over the mountain passes, may tax your brakes so be sure to stop and let your brakes and rims cool down to prevent your inner tubes from failing at high speed.
At Prato Allo Stelvio you can stay an extra day and try your hand at climbing the incomparable Passo Stelvio. You will find many other cyclists in Prato Allo Stevio on their way in the mornings to the climb.
The next section of the trail goes through a major organic apple growing region on its way to Bolzano. Bolzano is known as the Amsterdam of Italy because of the high popularity of cycling as transportation. The extensive bike trails are in heavy use and require very attentive riding compared to the lightly used trails you may be used to in places like the United States.
The beautiful paved, separated bike trail continues from Bolzano to Trento along the Adige River. Be sure to stop for a break at one of the many “Bici Grills.” These are restaurants right on the edge of the bike path dedicated for cyclists where you can get food, desserts and coffee, beer or wine.
At Trento there are two branches, one going along the Valsugana and the other straight down to Verona. Both branches make their way to Venice as they drop out of the mountains onto the plains.
You can make the whole trip or stop at any point and catch a train or bus to your departure point. There are small hotels and guesthouses all along the route and they are easy to book using modern websites like booking.com and tripadvisor.com.