Our Como, Stelvio & Dolomites tour takes us “UP” and into some breathtaking landscapes and scenery, but also to the heart of Italy’s deep cycling culture.
We started our recent tour with beautiful warm days by Lago di Como, rolling along the lake’s edge to Bellagio, up to Madonna di Ghisallo and its unique and iconic chapel, and also took on the Muro di Sormano. This translates to the ‘wall of Sormano’ and is absolutely spot on!
The non riding partner also took to the lake
The non riding partners also took in the lake and all its beauty with a day of travelling by boat to visit Como’s beautiful villas, spectacular gardens and enjoying some relaxed time out over lunch.
Our tours are always about much more than the riding and our Lombardian food experience, from the lake to the mountains, is always a special experience – elevated further by the places we choose which specialise in the local recipes and use the abundance that is close to hand. Our mixed antipasti plate with 10 different tastes from the lake, was sublime, as was our home cured lombo with home made focaccia, filled with local cheese. Buonissimo!
Moving further north, we made Bormio our home for the next few days. Starting with a delightful ride up to Lago di Cancano, affectionately known as mini Stelvio, it was the perfect welcome to the Italian Alps.
However, everyone’s bucket list climb of Passo Dello Stelvio was why we were here. It started off as a beautiful day in the valley but the further up we climbed, the colder it became and even with a little drizzle at the mountain top dropping the temperature, it did nothing to dampen anyone’s spirits. It was a solid ride by the entire group, with everyone getting their rhythm right and staying focused the the rifugio at the top, as it drew closer and closer. This was another special day for personal bests and one we always love to share.
The local flavours and tastes kept on coming at one of our favourite zero kilometre osteria’s, where virtually everything on our menu is made by the family and/or grown on their property. The salumi and cheese here is particularly great, as is the local pizzoccheri (or local pasta dish). In Damian’s opinion, Bormio is also home to Italy’s best digestivo….. Braulio. This is the key ingredient of our dessert, the ‘Braulio Sorbetto’, and is a creamy, sweet and slightly bitter glass of goodness that would be perfect any time of the day.
Regardless of how many times you visit the Dolomites, there is something special and awe inspiring every time you glimpse a new rugged peak, or turn a corner and see the same peak in a different way.
To ride and hike in this region, is nothing short of bliss.
The Sella Ronda loop is superb as you take in the four passes of Gardena, Sella, Pordoi and Campolongo…. it’s a continual rollercoaster of up, down, up, down, up, down…… and you could just roll all day.
Our final day took us further to the east, where the climbs are a little harder. We took on Passo Giau from the southern side, with its 10% average for 10k’s. This took some serious focus in the early k’s until a rhythm was found, and it then was just about holding that to the top as we counted the hairpin bends on our way up.
We finally took the one corner where we could see the rifugio at the top, and it’s so close, but as you keep rolling around the corner, a small plateau opens up with the most amazing peak sitting off to one side……the sheer beauty captures your heart every time.
For our non-riding partners, the joy and adventure continued into the Alps and Dolomites as we immersed ourselves with amazing hikes, a cheese making and tasting experience with a local family, and a gondola ride that took us to a peak in the Dolomites with incredible views and history.
There are people who live in the Dolomites who identify first as Ladin and second as Italian. We were lucky enough to experience an authentic and sensational Ladin meal with a local family, where everything in the kitchen is made by the mother, as the daughter takes care of the guests and the father runs the bar, including making his own grappa with ‘pino mugo’, a small local pine cone and pine needle. It’s always such a great experience to share in this very authentic meal and home made grappa experience – and that’s without even mentioning the views from the family home!
Our tour of Como, Stelvio and the Dolomites was brilliant to be able to share with so many great people, including being fortunate to share the road with a father and son duo, as well as a grandfather and grandson team. Big thanks to an amazing group who embraced every challenge and adventure with open arms.
To find out more about what you can expect to experience on our cycling tour of Como, Stelvio & Dolomites, click the link here.