Val Bodengo is a westward offshoot of Valchiavenna, the alpine valley in the province of Sondrio. Though still somewhat unknown to biking enthusiasts, the surrounding area has hosted world-class cycling events. It’s location alone, situated not far from the route of the most important alpine stage of the 2021 Giro d’Italia (the Verbania – Alpe Motta, passing through Madesimo in the final moments) should give an idea of just how much Val Bodengo can be an excellent alternative for those who love holidays that involve cycling or bicycle touring.
The town of reference for any Val Bodengo adventure is Gordona. To the east, it offers bikes an easy link to the climbs featured in the Giro d’Italia, which can be traveled backwards at least up to the long and very choreographic succession of hairpin bends that lead to the Splügen Pass, to then open up to many more opportunities across the border with Switzerland, in the Swiss Canton of Grisons.
The itineraries south of Gordona are instead more suitable for cycle tourism, given the easy access they provide to the northern shores of Lake Como. Even so, here it is still possible to perceive the thrilling echoes of legendary cycling given the extremely close proximity to parts of the route of the Giro di Lombardia.
But what makes Val Bodengo truly unique are the cycling alternatives offered by the roads west of Gordona that ascend the valley to its farthest point, and beyond which you will only come upon mountain paths that lead into Switzerland. The scenic pleasure of pedalling along the roads of the Val Bodengo is as enthralling as the steep climb up Strada Provinciale 3 that takes you from Gordona to Menarola, something of a smaller Splügen Pass.
However, nothing beats the enchantment of travelling these roads on two wheels in the late days of autumn when, all around, the foliage is ablaze with the season’s reds and yellows.
For a brief moment, it’s almost like being across the ocean, where the golden glow of the changing maple leaves brightens up the landscape. But this is neither Quebec nor Ontario: this is a small valley in Lombardy, illuminated by a stunning autumn to be relished on the saddle of a bicycle.