The Fabulous countryside between Venice and the Alps
Home to 8 out of the 58 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to be found in Italy, the Veneto offers a ‘smörgåsbord’ of geography: from the flat plans in the south to the high mountains in the north. The Prealps, which sit just below the Dolomites are composed of a number of minor ranges between 700m and 2200m in altitude and are famous for their caves, chasms and WWI tunnels. On the surface though they are home to many monumental cycling climbs none more so than the Monte Grappa rising up from the flat Venetian plain and boasting a colossal 10 different routes to the summit.
Part of the Republic of Venice until 1797 Veneto was merged with the Kingdom of Italy in 1866 however the majority of inhabitants still consider themselves Venetian before Italian. Formed by the vast flat lands to the south and the Prealps in the north it is a diverse and beautiful region.
The region’s most famous connection to cycling lies at the top of the Croce d’ Aune pass as it is here where Tullio Campagnolo first had the idea of a quick release system for wheels which in turn led him to create many of the components that revolutionized the bikes we all use today.
The area is blessed with multiple climates from a continental one on the plains to a far milder one along the coast and into the mountains where temperatures can be cool even in high summer. Rain is scarce on the flat lands but far more abundant at higher altitudes and snow is likely from November through April.
The Terrain can be split into two halves, the pan flat plains in the south and the increasingly lumpy Prealps in the north. Not as high in altitude as the ranges further north the climbs in the Prealps can though be long and hard especially those on the edge of the range that rise from almost sea level.
Points of interest
At the summit of the Passo Croce d’ Aune stands the Tullio Campagnolo Memorial which was unveiled in 1995 and celebrates the day he changed the world of cycling forever.
Bassano del Grappa, legend says is where the spirit of Grappa was first distilled by a Roman Soldier and is now home to the world-famous Nardini distillery which makes the finest spirit on earth.
There are ten routes to the summit of Monte Grappa and if you climb them all within a year you are awarded the Brevetto del Monte Grappa.
At the top of Monte Grappa stands the giant white stone war memorial containing the bones of 22,910 Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers, of which only 3000 were ever identified.
The highlight of the Prealps many famous caves is the Spluga della Preta, situated in the Monte Lessini chain in the province of Verona it has an explored depth of 985 metres, the deepest in all Italy.
"It was this moment on the Croce d’ Aune that eventually led to the invention of the quick release skewer and the start of the Campagnolo story."
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