Bike trip to Valle delle Cartiere
On the west of Lake Garda lies Toscolano-Maderno, which is the starting point for this cycling route in the lonely Valle delle Cartiere. Here, several ruins and a museum are showing still today, how important paper production once was here.
The Valley of Paper Mills (Valle delle Cartiere) can be reached Via Statale 45bis. Next to the bridge of Toscolano-Maderno and at the parking lot, there is a beautiful gravel path, leading along the Paper Museum of Maina Inferiore and arriving to the bridge of Maina Superiore. Next to the bridge, there is a sport fishing area with trouts.
The cycle path goes on to the locality of Gatto. The path leads further up to an asphalted road. Stay on the left side for 200 m until you arrive at a small chapel. Afterwards, the continues on Via Giotto, then turn into Via Donatello after 50 m. Now you continue past the historical centre and on Morosini gravel path, along the ridge, with great views of the Gaino plain and Lake Garda. Then, descend to the crossing among olive trees, that quickly leads to Maina in the valley of paper mills. Then continue on the left along Toscolano river on your right back to the museum and to the parking lot.
The Medieval paper mills
The water of the river was used in the Middle Ages for the operation of paper mills. In the 14th century, Toscolano-Maderno and its fine laid, handmade paper with an ox head as a watermark, gained great fame throughout Europe. Printers from all over Italy moved to this small town on Lake Garda. The original Martin Luther bible artwork was produced here. Other paper products were exported to the Orient. Today, only a few ivy-clad ruins bear testimony to the heyday, and a small museum still tells the story of the past in the gatehouse of the former paper mill.