For all of us, motorbikes are synonymous with freedom and adventure: how many times do we find ourselves fantasizing about epic journeys, alone or with friends, on breathtaking roads in the most remote and inhospitable corners of the planet? The deserts of Africa, the dizzying passes of the Himalayas, the suffocating vegetation of tropical forests... setting off for similar experiences, however, is far from easy, and dreams are often condemned to remain dreams. This does not mean, however, that you can't still get excited just a stone's throw from home: for this very reason, we have chosen to collect three itineraries within everyone's reach, perfect for enjoying a day in the saddle surrounded by spectacular views just a few hours from Milan .
Berninapass and Malojapass
Let's start with an itinerary that many of you will probably already know: in fact St. Moritz , the intermediate stop on our tour, is a very popular destination for those leaving from Milan. However, also given the great experience we had this winter at The Ice and our passion for mountain hairpin bends, we just couldn't exclude this splendid route from our little guide.
We start from Milan , leaving the city in a northerly direction, heading towards Lecco. From there, you coast along Lake Como for its entire length, up to Colico. In this stretch there are two options: the State Road 36, faster but decidedly not very panoramic, above all due to the many tunnels, or the "old" Provincial Road 72, which runs along the shores of the lake winding through numerous picturesque villages to say the least: a the choice is yours!
Once you reach the upper lake, you take the Stelvio State Road 38, crossing the Valtellina towards the West until Tirano: from here on, the route comes to life, and the magnificent town square, cut by the rails of the legendary Bernina red train , offers a taste of the magical atmosphere that will be felt from here on out. At this point the road begins to climb, and soon you cross the border into Switzerland. After passing Lake Poschiavo and some villages, the actual Bernina pass begins: you gain altitude very quickly, and almost suddenly the valley widens on the left, framing the breathtaking view of the majestic glaciers that overlook the pass. Once you reach the pass, a stop to admire the view is a must ; then, once back on the saddle, the long descent towards Pontresina and St. Moritz begins.
From the pearl of the Engadine you continue towards Silvaplana, and shortly after you find yourself catapulted onto the tortuous descent of the Malojapass . Within a few kilometres, the dense and scenic hairpin bends stretch across the bottom of Valchiavenna, opening up another impressive view of the Albigna group, with the large dam closing the valley . Once back in Italy, in Chiavenna, we take State Road 36 back to return to Milan.
The complete tour, of approximately 350km , can easily be done in one day; from late spring to early autumn, any sunny day is ideal to enjoy it to the fullest. Our advice, however, is to wait until the first days of July, when the large hotels of St.Moritz inaugurate the summer season: leaving Milan around 9am, you should arrive at the Suvretta or the Palace in perfect time for lunch...
Val Tidone, Passo del Penice and Val Trebbia
The second track leads towards the Trebbia river , with its beaches that many call "the Caribbean of Milan" . We struggle a bit to agree with this definition, perhaps a little too flattering, but we are certain of one thing: the roads that lead from the city to Bobbio are among the most evocative that Lombardy has to offer.
This time, Milan remains to the north: in fact, we set off in a southerly direction, along via Ripamonti (which then becomes Statale 412). The first stop of the tour is Castel San Giovanni , at the beginning of Val Tidone. From here we proceed towards Borgonovo, which rises around the Rocca Viscontea, and arrive at Pianello, where the road begins to run alongside the Tidone stream. From here on, the route becomes more and more exciting, with long curves to navigate and, all around, the countryside that begins to change into hills.
Following the signs for Zavattarello you proceed in a continuous succession of villages perched on the hills, old farmhouses and stands of trees; the road is now Provincial 207, which winds through the undergrowth and leads to Varzi, a town famous for its salami. The climb towards the day's pass, the Passo del Penice , begins right here, which allows you to pass the mountain of the same name and then descend into Val Trebbia.
Thirty kilometers of hill roads surrounded by greenery and with breathtaking views of the hills of the Oltrepò Pavese now lead to Bobbio, a medieval village that stands on a bend of the Trebbia river and is the ideal point to stop for lunch or, if the temperature requires, cooling off with a swim in the stream: the Berlina beach, a few minutes from the centre, is the ideal place for a dip.
To return home, go up the pass but, instead of returning to Varzi, take State Road 412 once again, descending towards Romagnese, descending from Mount Penice along the route also followed by the Tidone torrent. Follow the stream up to Pianello, and leave the 412 to take the Provincial 33 towards Agazzano and Piacenza. Once you arrive in Piacenza, the choice is yours: you can opt for a quick return along the A1, or along the Statale 9 if you want to enjoy the countryside for a few more hours.
We decided to leave the most "adventurous" tour of the three for last, and the only one that includes a stretch - a significant one - of dirt road . Nothing overly technical, of course, but enough to preclude it from any pure road bike. As with the first itinerary, we start from Milan heading north, passing Lecco and climbing up to Colico to enter Valtellina. At Berbenno you leave State Road 38 to cross the Adda river and reach Fusine, a small town on the southern side of the valley.
From here onwards the real climb begins, the exciting one: after some asphalt bends, which leave Fusine behind, the wheels begin to bite the dirt road. The ascent is long and decidedly steep, but the subgrade is generally in good condition. Little by little the coppice wood gives way to conifers, until these too disappear, making the view extend up to the top of the mountains that divide Valtellina and Val Brembana. About a kilometer from the pass you come across the Dordona Refuge, always open in the months when the pass is passable; once at the top, however, it is worth stopping for a few minutes to explore the trenches of the First World War, which were never the scene of fighting and perhaps for this reason they have been perfectly preserved up to the present day.
The descent that leads to Foppolo is shorter and decidedly simpler than the ascent, which is why we suggest following the itinerary clockwise; the town can obviously be reached from above, and the road becomes asphalted again right next to the first houses. From here, the return to Milan passes through San Pellegrino Terme, passes Bergamo and then leaves various choices: the most direct is obviously the motorway, but there is no shortage of state and provincial roads for those who don't like the carousel of four lanes on the A4.
The itinerary measures approximately 250km; the Dordona pass, with the refuge of the same name, is located exactly halfway, and is the ideal point to enjoy a plate of pizzoccheri surrounded by the mountains. Before leaving for the tour, remember to check that the pass is passable: a phone call to a bar in Fusine or Foppolo is enough to avoid disappointment if the snow at high altitude has not yet melted. In Fusine, don't forget to buy the transit permit for the pass: it costs only €3, and is sold in all the (few) bars in the town.
Now that you have all the information, all you have to do is get on the saddle and enjoy a day of freedom with your motorbike. If you want to add the last touch to your outfit before leaving, take a look at our website, and of course don't forget to tag us in your photos!