Medium excursion to the most impressive chapel in Riva del Garda
Trekking, bike and ski touring
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From Riva del Garda, as you raise your head west toward Monte Rocchetta, you’ll notice the Bastione with the panoramic elevator and the small church of Santa Barbara perched on the steep mountainside. Even at night, these bright spots attract the eye.
From Riva del Garda to Bastione, the route is straightforward, while from Bastione to Santa Barbara, a steady climb of medium difficulty awaits you. The visit to the two symbols of Riva del Garda and the views will repay you for the effort on the ascent.
Map and GPS Track
Riva del Garda
Church Santa Barbara
Riva del Garda – Bastione – Hut Santa Barbara – Church Santa Barbara
Altitude – ascent/descent
2,8km (one way)
2 hrs (one way)
- Starting point
Technical difficulty (1 to 5)
Physical training (1 to 5)
- CAI (Italian Alpine Club) difficulty scale
Experience (1 to 5)
Landscape (1 to 5)
- Experience (1 to 5)
- One way tour
- Insider tip
- Panoramic route
All year over
- All year over
Point of interest along this route
The Bastione is a circular keep built between 1507 and 1509 at the behest of the Most Serene Republic of Venice to defend the town of Riva del Garda and neighboring territories from the expansionist aims of the Episcopal Principality of Trento.
Its circular shape allowed both the control of land routes from the north of the lake and the defense with the heavy artillery of the town, which was protected only by the medieval walls. Renovated in 2007 by the Autonomous Province of Trento, it can also be visited thanks to metal stairs internally. A panoramic elevator was recently built to climb up to the Bastione from the Riva pier, avoiding a walk of about 20 minutes.
The chapel of Santa Barbara
The chapel was built during the construction of the Riva del Garda hydroelectric power plant, designed by D’Annunzio’s architect Giancarlo Maroni, the creator of the Vittoriale degli Italiani. Between 1924 and 1929, work was carried out to bring water from Lake Ledro to the Riva power plant. A 6-km-long tunnel was dug, and a penstock was built with a 960-m drop (along the way to the little church, you can see the large metal pipe anchored to the mountain). The little chapel was dedicated to St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners, and inaugurated on December 4, 1927.
Leave the car in one of the many parking lots in the center of Riva, take via Monte Oro (near the traffic circle where you enter the tunnel to Val di Ledro) and follow path 404 with signs “Passeggiata al Bastione,” “Chiesa Santa Barbara” and “Capanna Santa Barbara.”
After a short asphalt section, take the cobblestone road and follow its soft switchbacks for about 200 meters of elevation gain until you reach the Bastion.
I recommend a short pause here to visit the fortification inside; from its openings, there is a beautiful view of Riva harbour and the old town.
Exit the keep and resume the ascent on the rough path through the forest, which becomes steeper and steeper. During the climb, the vegetation opens up in some places with lovely views of the lake and Riva, but the best is at the top.
Continue for about an hour along the trail until you reach the Santa Barbara Hut; from here, in another 10 minutes, you will get to the Church. Let your lungs and heart fill with the beauty of this viewpoint at 610 meters above sea level; it feels like you are suspended over the lake.
Take time to recharge and follow the same trail down.
- Avoid this route during the hottest months or leave early in the morning. The trail is exposed to the sun from the early hours of the day.
- Remember to refill your water bottle; if you forgot, you could do so at one of the fountains in the center of Riva del Garda.
- Capanna Santa Barbara is not always open, so bring a snack.
- Be careful if it has rained; the boulders and bottom tend to become slippery.
The route in winter
All year round.
- At the Bastione
- At Capanna Santa Barbara
The Hut is run by the SAT (Alpine Club) of Riva del Garda and is generally open at weekends.
How to reach the starting point of the itinerary
Via Monte Oro is on the road from Riva del Garda to Limone, just after the roundabout leading into Val di Ledro.
- Car park Monte Oro
- Car park Viale Canella
- Car park Marconi
- Car park Terme Romane
- Car park ex Ospedale, free
- Car park ex Cimitero, free
From Limone, get off at the Riva Centrale Enel stop in front of the hydroelectric power plant; in 5 minutes, you will start the route.
If you are coming from Torbole or Arco, you must go through the bus station and take the city bus.
The nearest stops are: Viale Cannella, Viale Dante Alighieri, Viale Martiri, and the bus station.
The boat dock is at the port of Riva del Garda, 400 meters from Via Monte Oro.