This challenging and truly stunning Italian cycling adventure takes us through the spectacular mountains and lakes of Northern Italy. We set off around beautiful Lake Iseo, and tackle the legendary climbs of the Passo di Gavia (2621m) and the short but fearfully steep Passo di Mortirolo. A brief detour into Switzerland brings us back over the Passo dello Stelvio (2758m) - the second highest paved mountain pass in Europe, and one of the most impressive roads in the Alps.
This epic ride ends at Lake Como, with wonderful views and one last climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo, with it's Chapel at the summit - a shrine to the great heroes of professional cycling. The challenge has been designed by cyclists for cyclists - quite simply this is one of the trips we want to go and cycle! It's classic, it's hard but it will be one of the top cycling experiences you can have!
We meet at the hotel in Bergamo (approx 1 hour from Milan), where you can check in from 4pm onwards and meet the rest of the group. After some time to assemble your bikes and ensure all is in order for tomorrow, you are free to sight-see.
Bergamo is a lovely town lying at the foot of the mountains in Northern Lombardy; if you have time, the cobbled streets and historic buildings of the upper town are well worth exploring. We meet up in the evening for dinner and a detailed trip briefing. (Flights and transfers to Hotel not included, Lunch not included)
Leaving the town behind, we ride east through small villages and fields, the contours of the green hills rising around us. It’s initially fairly flat, with a few twisting, shady climbs to stretch our legs. We reach Lake Iseo, one of the quieter of the Italian lakes, and enjoy a wonderfully scenic ride alongside it, climbing fairly steadily as we reach its northern end.
Our gradual ascent continues – punctuated by a few short sharp climbs – through the Camonica Valley, a wide forested valley dotted with beautiful villages. As we gain height the scenery becomes more impressive, with wide-reaching vistas out over the forested peaks, and glimpses of more dramatic peaks in the distance, while village houses look distinctively Alpine.
The gradient ramps up as we come to the upper valley, and into the Valtellina, climbing to Aprica. Our day ends with a wonderful descent to the small town of Tirano. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)
Our legs might be tired after yesterday’s long day, but the route profile today is seriously tough! We set off on quiet roads through the valley towards Mazzo di Valtellina, at the base of the Mortirolo. The Passo di Mortirolo (1852m) is a relatively short climb, and first featured in the Giro only in 1990, but its steep gradients have given it a fearsome reputation. On the ascent we pass the monument to much-loved Italian cyclist Marco Pantani. Our descent to the Val Camonica gives us some respite, but it’s not long before we start climbing again, as we hit the southern slopes of the Passo di Gavia (2621m).
Unlike the Mortirolo, the Gavia has been a regular feature of the Giro since 1960, when it was little more than a dirt road. Cycling history has been made on these slopes, and however tough you find it, take inspiration from following in the pedalstrokes of the elite! This side is the toughest, with gradients kicking up to 16%, and from the first hairpin bend it’s a relentless climb.
Within a few miles we are in wild mountain scenery, surrounded by panoramas of boulder-strewn pastures, tumbling streams, serene mountain lakes and jagged peaks, often still streaked with snow. After a well-earned breather at the pass, we enjoy a long, more steady descent to the small town of Bormio. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)
Another high pass today, though the Passo di Foscagno (2291m) offers a long, relatively gradual climb – a good stamina-building effort between the tougher days! Our road takes us through Trepalle, the highest village in Italy, and the lovely town of Livigno, before crossing into Switzerland. It’s an easy downhill roll along the Swiss Val Müstair before we pass back into Italy. The scenery is wonderful, with lush green pastures and small red-roofed Tyrolean villages with striking churches, set against the high rocky peaks. We eventually reach the foot of the Stelvio, buoyed up for tomorrow’s big effort. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)
The Passo dello Stelvio (2758m) is the second-highest paved road in Europe and often listed among the best roads to experience in the Alps; its hairpin bends decorate the mountainside with painful-looking regularity. The climbing starts in earnest from the first hair-pin bend: only 47 more to go! The scenery is again dramatic, and you should pace yourself to enjoy it! The last section, with its famous views of the tightly-packed, stony hair-pin bends and the pass, still 600m above us, can be one of the best sights you’ll enjoy on a bike – or one of the worst! After time at the pass for the obligatory photos, we enjoy an adrenaline-pumping descent to Bormio and the sweeping valley below. From here our route is steadily downhill on quiet roads as we cruise once more through the Valtellina, all the way to the shores of Lake Como. Night hotel. (Lunch not included)
The shores of Lake Como provide a scenic backdrop for our short morning spin – a stunning way to start our last day. A short ferry ride across the lake brings us to Bellagio, and then it’s a short, steep climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo, where the chapel on the summit has become a shrine to cyclists. Made famous by the Tour of Lombardy and Giro d’Italia, this is a challenging last climb, but the views are spectacular! We make time to pay our respects at the hilltop chapel, where an eclectic array of cycling artefacts and an eternal flame commemorates the memory of cyclists who have died. We then enjoy a wonderful descent, and the remaining miles to Como are downhill almost all the way. We finish in time for a celebratory lunch. From Como there is plenty of public transport back to Milan for your return home. (Lunch & Dinner not included)
Paid by your charity 8 weeks prior to departure (4 weeks for UK one day and weekend events) providing they have received agreed amount of the fundraising target. If you are on a bespoke challenge your charity may charge Airline Taxes – please contact your charity for further information.
Part Payment Option*
Set contribution paid by you, remaining costs paid by your charity providing they have received agreed amount of the fundraising target. If you are on a bespoke challenge your charity may charge Airline Taxes – please contact your charity for further information.
Full Payment Option
Paid by you together with any applicable airline taxes (capped at £250), 8 weeks prior to departure (4 weeks for UK one day and weekend events).
* Not available on UK Challenge weekends
Meals except where specified (breakfast and dinner will be provided at hotels each day)
Accommodation on a twin-share basis
Discover Adventure leader and roving crew member for mechanical support/ coaching and support vehicle
Mapping, GPX files and route information
Lunch (opportunity to buy lunch to carry with you, or stop in a café en-route) and any meals specified 'not included' in the itinerary
Flights and transport to/from start/finish point of ride
Cycle helmet (compulsory) and water bottles
Personal spending money, souvenirs and drinks
Fees for any optional sites, attractions or activities
Any applicable surcharges as per Terms and Conditions
Accommodation is usually on a twin-share basis in hotels convenient to our route. Please tell us if you know somebody else on the trip that you would like to share with and we will try our best to accommodate your request. If you don't know anyone else in the group don't worry, we always pair you up with someone of the same gender, and a similar age where possible. We do not charge a single supplement if you are a solo traveller in a shared room.
There may be a limited number of single rooms subject to request, on a first-come first-served basis, after you have booked. Extra charges will apply.
We usually stay in hotels or lodges of a 2-3* standard or equivalent. Standards may vary between the hotels but they are generally comfortable and convenient for our route. Hotels are often on the outskirts of towns to minimise unnecessary extra mileage and avoid traffic.
The food provided is plentiful and will give you plenty of energy. Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.
All food is included except where specified. Dinners are generally eaten in the hotel. A packed baguette for lunch can be arranged with your crew or you are free to stop en-route and enjoy some of the local fayre. Please let us know of any dietary requirements well in advance.
A roaming vehicle will provide additional water and snacks to boost your energy during the ride - these will replace our standard water-stops which you may have experienced on previous challenges. On climbs, large water barrels may be left en-route.
This system will enable our crew to provide you with greater support and coaching during the ride.
Your trip will be led by an experienced Discover Adventure leader and a supporting crew member for groups of over 12 participants. Our leaders are selected for their knowledge and experience, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises; they are also trained in first aid. The crew will have mobile phones and/or radios where appropriate, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. The support vehicle will be with the group all of the time, and will carry all luggage and spares.
The route will be supplied as a GPX file and therefore there will be no route marking by way of orange arrows (helping us to reduce our carbon footprint).
You will also have access to the the route via Google Maps which will show where your position is relative to the route - therefore helping you get back on track if you go off course. This will also show you the location of upcoming climbs and water-stops.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
This challenge has been designed specifically for small groups. They can run with a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 15 participants. We have capped the number of participants on this trip to 15 so that our crew can concentrate on client experience and give coaching on route.
In the unfortunate circumstance that you need to cancel your booking, we would ask that you notify us in writing either by post or email. Your cancellation will be considered effective from the date the notice is received. Registration fees, amendment fees and insurance premiums are non refundable and, depending on your payment option and how close it is to your challenge departure date, you may be liable for a cancellation charge.
Full details of all cancellation charges may be found in the Terms and Conditions of booking.
Our route varies from rolling valley roads to tough mountain ascents. The main three are designated Hors Category, the toughest classification in pro cycling; moreover, the Gavia and Stelvio have been frequently designated by the Giro d’Italia as the Cima Coppi, the highest point on the race.
We ride mainly on small quiet roads. Traffic is light most of the time but be vigilant for traffic and other cyclists, especially in poor visibility or on narrow mountain roads. Distances are long considering the terrain, with a 100-mile day. You should make sure you are fit enough to manage these distances especially given the demanding terrain. Road bikes are the most suitable on this trip, with gear ratios able to cope with the demands of the 16% gradients on the Mortirolo.
It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Travel Insurance is compulsory on our challenges; we strongly suggest that you arrange insurance cover as soon as your booking with us is confirmed. Should you need to cancel on medical grounds, you will need insurance to cover the costs involved (registration fee and any trip costs depending on cancellation date).
You should also ensure that you have adequate cover for the type of challenge you are taking part in as well as medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation.
You can obtain a quote with Insure to Travel from our website here, or you may choose to take out your own travel insurance, just remember to let us know the policy number and emergency phone number!
For more information about travel insurance, please click here.
Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check your requirements using our partner, Visa Machine, website here; please ensure you allow plenty of time.
Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
Simply the best experience of my life, the whole trip could not have gone any better. The professionalism shown by the Discover Adventure crew was first class, without them pushing us along on day 2 and day 4 it would have been easy to give up. Could not wish for a more… Read more + friendly and knowledgable team. Still deliberating about my next trip but without a doubt it will be with Discover Adventure. Read less -
Andreas - July 2019
It was the small group experience that made the difference. I lived my dream through Discover Adventure, and achieved my life goal.
Helen - August 2018
This was my first time on a Discover Adventure trip, and I'm sure it won't be my last!
Karen - August 2018
An amazing experience despite the extreme temperatures
Jennifer - August 2018
The whole experience was amazing! The fella's who were our guides also made the experience enjoyable, Simon spent most of out trip helping me and I am extremely grateful to him.
Kat - August 2018
Brilliant support from all DA crew all the time.
James - August 2018
Superb support from the DA team from start to finish. We had such a laugh at water and lunch stops. They sorted any bike issues out and picked up the required spares from shops when required. You really felt they had your back and wanted you to get the most out of the… Read more + experience. Read less -
Calum - August 2018
Organisation, Crew, Hotels, Food, Challenge. All 1st class. Look forward to another.
Buy your kitbag
Only £42 - designed to deal with the rigours of your challenge.
Easier for accessing gear than a rucksack (especially when camping) this is probably the most cost-effective way to take your luggage on a Discover Adventure challenge!
Trips are graded Yellow, Orange or Red, in increasing level of challenge. This trip lies within the RED range.
The grade is determined by factors such as terrain, distance, climate, altitude, etc. Each colour grade has a spectrum which reflects the difficulty of these factors; trip duration, accommodation and living conditions (see icon) are also taken into account.