Oh MY!!! This is about as hard a road as you will ever climb - it is an absolute, Grade “A” Badass Climb! We begin near the shores of beautiful Lake Garda (yes, in our opinion it rivals Lake Como) and have some very nice views of the lake as we climb sharply above the lake at double digit grades from start to finish. Do not miss this one if you are in the area - it is a challenging and exceptional adventure that you will likely remember for quite a while.
That sign is no joke!
We have many steep segments (15-20%) which will justify several “water breaks” along the way. With each break, look back and you are bound to see the pavement falling away behind you with the lake in the background.
We took the ferry over from the west side of the lake and as we crossed, I could not figure how there was 4 miles of steep roadway up the hills beyond the eastern shore. That is because we were imagining a straight line up the mountain, but there are actually 20 switchbacks that provide most of the mileage up the hill - as the crow flies, it’s only 1.4 miles from bottom to top. We photographed all the Tornante (switchback) signs, and apologize for the blurriness of some, but we just could not stop on the grades we were on and hope to get going again! (See slideshow below).
There are 20 switchbacks along the route - 1 every .20 miles (.32 km) - by comparison Stelvio is 1 every .33m/.5km
Via Prada Alta is the second steepest climb in Italy (15%) and the steepest (and most difficult) Italian climb, Scanuppia, is a mere 33 miles /52 km from the start of Via Prada Alta. We did them on back-to-back days, climbing Colle de la Lombarde from the Italian side in the early morning, then drove 282 miles / 453 km (taking the ferry across Lake Garda) tackling Via Prada Alta beginning at 7 p.m. and getting back down in pitch black - wow, what a day!
There is an annual race up this monster - Salita Punta Veleno (Google Translate : “Uphill Venom”, or something)
The brutally steep portion of the climb ends at Tornante (hairpin) #1 at mile 3.8/km 6.12, but if we continue on to the “high point” about a .9 miles / 1.5 km further, we pass over a very narrow cliff-side road that gives an incredible view (scary if you fear heights, as I do!) down the ravine to Lake Garda.