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Peschiera-Mantua, the Quadrilatero's western side

Mincio and war - Itinerary n. 2

By bike Car         Great Interest: Hystory 

At the end of the 18th century, war events following the French Revolution touched the Mincio Valley, too. The importance and potential of these places were rediscovered through accurate investigation and knowledge of the territory, which were strong points of Napoleon's army, and through testing of new war techniques. For the Italian Campaigns, Napoleon's army applied a strategy which took advantage of the position of the Mincio and Adige rivers and of the territories in between: that was a ready-made defence system, which nature and history had already built, and which only needed to be strengthened. The effectiveness of this scheme was fully proven during the 1848-49 war, when the Quadrilatero was definitively designed: this territorial defence system came from an intuition by Field marshal Josef Radetzky, and it combined the defence potentialities of the Mincio and Adige rivers with those of the fortresses in Verona, Legnago, Peschiera and Mantua. Verona, which was located in the rear and directly linked with the Empire, served as a depot for all the military supplies for the Lombardo-Venetian Kingdom; Legnago, in second line, was a bridgehead that granted support to the mid-Adige wing; Mantua and Peschiera, on the frontline along the Mincio River, were pivotal in army manoeuvres. Mantua was especially important, since its defences had been greatly strengthened by the French. Together with Peschiera and Borgoforte it constituted a system, which could easily control the Quadrilatero's western side, taking advantage of the defence line provided by the Mincio River and the Serraglio until the Po River.

Peschiera del Garda, Bastion Tognon, 1552
Peschiera del Garda, Bastion Tognon, 1552
(photo by: Claudia Bonora Previdi)

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Points of interest
This naturalistic-historic itinerary follows the Mincio River from Peschiera to Borgoforte (today Borgo-Virgilio). It encompasses the places and works, which symbolize the permanent militarization that characterized these territories, and that transformed the Mincio River, as well as Adige, Po and the areas in between, into a war machine capable of indefinitely resisting. The starting point is Peschiera, an ancient Scaligeri fortification, where the 16th-century Cittadella can be visited. The citadel has a pentagonal plant with bastions, and it was upgraded during the 19th century as a fortified town defended by separate fortresses. Sixteen wonderful fortresses were thus built along the Mincio. The itinerary crosses Fortress Salvi and Fortress Ardietti, which illustrate such evolution and the models that were adopted. Goito is the only town crossed by the Mincio River: it has been an important centre in the past, and is also referred to as “Town of the Bersaglieri” (marksmen), as shown by the bronze statue near "Ponte della Gloria", dedicated to the Bersaglieri corps and to their action in 1848. The itinerary leads then to Mantua, whose prime defence since foundation have always been the Mincio waters. The remains of the Cittadella di Porto, the bridges, dams, portions of the fortified walls, which over the centuries defined the image of a compact fortress-city, the Fossamana and Frassino lunettes, and the imposing Fortress of Pietole: they all show the grand plan, which transformed Mantua into a modern fortified city, placed in the middle of a wide and complex water system. Following the Mincio riverside visitors reach Governolo, where the conca del Bertazzolo and the River Museum are located. The Po riverside leads then to Borgoforte, where it is possible to visit Forte Centrale, and to Motteggiana, where the remains of the Fortress of Noyeau are located. Both fortresses were part of a double bridgehead, which was built by the Habsburg corps of engineers on the Po River shortly before the Third War of Independence. The bridgehead was intended to grant transit over the river, complete the defence of the fortress of Mantua and, more broadly, to defend the Empire's south-western frontier.

The itinerary is designed within Mincio Regional Park on bike routes, along the banks of Mincio and of artificial canals and, for some stretches, on local roads.

Itinerary conditions
The itinerary is 91.7 km long; it does not present any particular difficulty, it is completely level or with very low-gradient slopes. It is mostly paved with some stretches on dirt roads, and is sufficiently shaded. Pay attention at intersections with trafficked roads, and in the town of Peschiera del Garda.

Leave Peschiera del Garda through Porta Brescia and keep right for a short stretch. Then turn left on Via Secolo, cross the railway and turn left again towards Porto Vecchio. Cycle along Forte Salvi nuovo (new Salvi fortress) until the roundabout: keep right and take Via Nenni. At the following roundabout follow the direction to Mano di ferro; at the following roundabout keep left. Cross the Milano-Venezia motorway bridge. Reach the crossing and keep right, taking Via Mano di ferro until Fortress Ardietti. After visiting the fortress go back along Via Mano di ferro, reach the previous crossing and turn right, taking strada località Zanina. Go straight on until you intersect the bike trail Peschiera - Mantova (ciclovia 1/EV7), which follows the Mincio River. Keeping right, continue towards Mantua. After Salionze you reach the dam bridge, which controls the river discharge and Lake Garda's water level. Reach the left bank and continue towards Monzambano, Borghetto, and Pozzolo. In Pozzolo, cross the Mincio River on the SP 21 (Provincial Route 21) and reach the intersection: take strada Ferri, then strada Torre, which leads to Goito. Cross the town taking the SP 36 (via Lusardi) towards Mantua, cross the bridge on the Mincio River and turn immediately left on Via Maglio. Reach Soave: at the crossing with Piazzale Roma turn left and take the bike trail that runs along the canal. Shortly before the intersection with Via Brescia, keep right and take the bike trail towards Mantua. You thus reach the dock of Mincio Rowing Club. Go along Via San Giovanni Bono, cross the railway and turn right on Via San Michele. At the end of the road, the subway leads to Piazza Porta Giulia. Pass under the gate and follow Strada Montata, then the bike trail of Mantua Urban Park (ciclovia 1s.a), pass the Fossamana lunette and reach the Fortress of Sparafucile. Cross Via Legnago (State Route - SS 10) and keep left. Along Strada Cipata it is possible to deviate towards Frassino (deviation is at km 1.0); otherwise keep right and follow the bike trail towards Mantua (ciclovia 1d): you thus border San Giorgio bridge and Lago di Mezzo (middle lake) until a pedestrian crossing in Piazza Arche. Go along Piazza Arche, Via Pomponazzo and Via Trieste until the pedestrian crossing by Via Cardone. Take Via Cardone, go up the embankment and turn right. Turn left on the dirt road after the parking lot, and follow Vicolo Maestro until the intersection with Via diga Masetti; cross Via diga Masetti and make a very short stretch on Via Ariosto. Take the dirt path that leads to the Baden Powell Public Gardens. Cross the gardens and take the subway under Via Brennero. After the subway, turn immediately left on a narrow dirt path, which borders Via Brennero for a stretch, and then winds across the vegetation near Vallazza. Shortly before the descent that leads to the kennels, take the second path on the left. Go past the descent that leads to Bosco Virgiliano, then the water purification plant, and reach the intersection with Via Guerra. There, keep left and reach the end of the dirt road on the embankment (ciclovia 1d). Turn left again on the descending path that crosses a wetland. By turning right after the wood you go directly to Borgoforte: take strada del Corriere, then a short stretch on the Cerese bike trail towards Bagnolo San Vito; cross the road and take Via Martiri della Libertà, then Via Calvi, Via Paranza Bassa, Via Paranza Alta, and reach San Cataldo; take Via Argine Boccadiganda and reach Borgoforte. Instead, by keeping left after the wood, you continue along Via Argine Mincio (ciclovia Destra Mincio EV7), then Via Mincio and Via Bevilacqua that, after crossing Via Dosso (Provincial Route - SP 33) leads to Governolo. From there, continue on Via Po Barna towards Correggio Micheli, leaving the Mincio riverside and reaching the Po (ciclovia Sinistra Po EV8). Keep left at the roundabout in Correggio Micheli and take Via Molinara. Pass under the bridge of Romana nuova (SS 413), reach the crossing and take Via Argine Po until the intersection with Via Po San Giacomo-San Nicolò. Turn right and reach the village of San Giacomo Po. Then continue towards San Nicolò Po, which you will reach after passing under the A22 motorway bridge. When entering the village, turn left on Via Argine San Nicolò, which later becomes Via Argine Po. Continue along Via Arginelli towards Boccadiganda, and then on Via Fornace towards Borgoforte. There, by the railway, turn left on Via al Ponte (Provincial Route - SP 54) then turn right in the subway under the railway. Near the railway station turn left again on via Roma; in piazza Matteotti turn right on via Parmense and the SP (Provincial Route) 56, which leads to Forte Centrale.

It is advisable to check the state of your bicycle and to have suitable equipment for this type of itinerary. On the dirt path between the subway of Via Brennero and the intersection with via Guerra, some stretches require to get off the bike and push by the handlebars.
More info
Points of Interest
Points of Interest
Architectural features
Architectural features
Architectural features
Architectural features
Points of Interest
Architectural features
Architectural features
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