The route still exists, and since the 1990s increased interest in long-distance hiking and cycling have made the German and Austrian stretches of the Via Claudia Augusta popular among tourists, with the result that modern signage (illustration) identifies the revitalised track.
In 15 BC, the Roman general Nero Claudius Drusus, the adopted son of Augustus, decided to improve the passage through the Alps for military maneuvers to control Rhaetia and Noricum. The project of converting a pack-animal trail to serve wheeled vehicles was completed sixty years later in 46-47 AD by the son of Drusus, the Emperor Claudius. People and goods could pass between the Adriatic and the broad valley of the Po to Tridentum (modern Trento), then northward following the Adige River up to Pons Drusi, the "bridge of Drusus" which developed into Bolzano. Thence it continued towards Maia (near Meran), and over the Reschen Pass. From the pass it descended through the valleys of the Inn River and the Lech, just beyond Augusta Vindelicorum (Augsburg), with an extension to a town on the Danube near the present-day Donauwörth; the limes of the Danube formed the Roman empire's northern and northeastern frontier.
Two milestones have been found, one at Rabland/Rablà, a frazione of Partschins, near Meran in the province of Bolzano-Bozen and the other in Cesiomaggiore, near Belluno. Both are inscribed with the far terminus of the Via Claudia Augusta, Augusta Vindelicorum (modern Augsburg). The milestones indicate that two routes joined at Tridentium before crossing the Alpine pass: one found its starting point at the vicus of Ostiglia, near the Po, the other, its site less securely identified by archaeologists and historians, at the Adriatic port of Altinum, (near the Venetian Lagoon). On its way to Tridentium, that route crossed the Via Annia, which linked Adria to Aquileia, the Via Popilia, which linked Altinum with Rimini, the Via Aurelia, between Padua and Feltre passing through Asolo, and the Via Postumia, the road linking Genoa and Aquileia. The road that was initiated by Drusus as a military artery of conquest and defence, Emperor Claudius continued to develop as a cultural and commercial artery, with permanently populated posting stations where fresh horses would be available. Some grew into considerable settlements and were fortified during the later Empire. Others can be identified only by the findings of archaeologists. In the 2nd century AD, a second Alpine pass was opened to wheeled traffic, the Brenner Pass.
Cities and villages along the routeEdit
Today the Via Claudia Augusta is the most important route used by cyclists to cross the Alps. It starts in Donauwörth (Germany) and branches near Trient into two routes. The first and historically correct route ends in Ostiglia, the second and more popular one in Venice.
Donauwörth - Augsburg - Landsberg - Schongau - Füssen (Germany) Imst - Starkenbach - Zams - Landeck - Fließ - Prutz - Tösens - Pfunds - Finstermünz - Nauders - Reschenpass - St. Valentin (Austria) Meran - Bozen - Trient - Verona - Ostiglia, alternatively Trient - Feltre - Altino - Venice (Italy).
The length of the trail is approximately 500 km. As a special service there are bus shuttles that take bicycles and cyclists over both the Fern Pass and the Reschen Pass, which are the most demanding parts of the route.
- Via Claudia Augusta - Historical Notes
- Via Claudia Augusta photographs (German)
- Via Claudia Augusta in Bavaria (German)
- Via Claudia Augusta in Tirol (German)
- Photographic Documentation of the Via Claudia Augusta between Königsbrunn and Epfach
- Photos and Route Description for Cyclists (German)
- Via Claudia Augusta
- Via Claudia Augusta South Tirol
- Via Claudia Augusta: Map
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