Whenever the Treasury Secretary gives the green light for another trip into the high mountains, I think ‘Giro d’Italia’.
To be more precise: I first think of the Dolomites in the northeast, nearly equally shared between the provinces of Belluno, South Tyrol and Trentino.
Just looking at the pictures and profiles of the climbs there, does make my heart beat faster.
Obviously, I do not mind wandering off in the Ortler Alps to the west of the Dolomites, if only for the Gavia, Mortirolo and the not any less attractive Bormio end of the Stelvio.
But, as much as I like the area around Bormio, it pales in comparison to that of the Sella group, which may be considered the heart of the Dolomites.
My most favorite spot in this cycling heaven, is Corvara in Badia (or Kurfar) at the bottom of the climbs up the Campolongo 1 and Gardena, the Valparola being just around the corner.
The views are overwhelming – the Sassongher towering over it – but if you want a bit more activity, you should probably go to the other end of the Gardena, to Selva di Val Gardena or Sante Cristina.
Or, alternatively, to the east, to Cortina d’Ampezzo at the bottom of the climbs up the Giau and Falzarego.
If you want to stay in an equally strategically placed town in the Ortler Alps, you will most likely end up in Bormio.
Other than the starting point of the climbs up the Gavia and the Stelvio, it also connects to the Foscagno leading to Livigno.
And it is within cycling distance of two of the more famous climbs up the Mortirolo…
So, whenever there is a trip scheduled to these areas, I shamelessly dub it ‘Giro d’Italia’.
After all, the UCI pro version of that course is usually decided in the mountain stages there 🙂
1 At least the more commonly known final 6 kilometers of it: the full Campolongo starts in Pederoa, 14 kilometers north of Corvara.
Giro d’Italia 2020
In a year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, we had a base camp in Ponte di Legno for 11 days, the last week of July and the first week of August.
Basically, because we found an all-inclusive **** hotel, with an offer that we couldn’t resist, in a time where travel to most (sun-guaranteed) destinations was restricted.
And Ponte di Legno may not be Bormio, but it’s also strategically located at the foot of the Giau and Tonale.
However, it is not located in my favorite area, the Dolomites and we also booked two nights in Corvara.
This gave me the opportunity to cycle there for three days, although only one of those was ‘dedicated’ in full, as travel shortened the available cycling time for the other two.
Hardly enough to revisit all the passes in the area, but it offered me the opportunity to ride the Maratona dles Dolomites, which already included many.
And in the end, I used the return trip to Ponte di Legno to cycle Solda and the Stelvio from Prato.
More on this trip here.
Giro d’Italia 2015
In June 2015 we went back to Italy for some more. Again divided into two parts: one week in Corvara and one in Bormio (Valdisotto). It was concluded with a smashing Swiss stage on the way back home.
Some old friends like the Stelvio and Giau were revisited and new friends like the Würzjoch were found – sadly, we were denied the world renowned view on (top of) the Tre Cime di Lavaredo because of the clouds/fog.
The concluding Swiss stage brought us the Gotthard, Furka and Grimsel – the special Via Tremola, the breathtaking views from both the Furka and Grimsel were something not easily forgotten either…
Summary of this trip here.
Giro d’Italia 2011
In July of 2011, I cycled my first “Giro d’Italia”. It consisted of two parts, one based in San Pietro (near Selva di Val Gardena) and the second part based in Valdidentro (Bormio).
The most difficult climb of that Giro was the Monte Zoncolan. Difficult ‘as is’, this ‘gateway to hell’ almost got the better of me.
However, it made climbing the Mortirolo seem like a piece of cake at the time, an experience I’ve never been able to reproduce during any of my later climbs up there…
Read more about this trip here.