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Panoramic Passes

by Bodhirider

Bergamo and its valleys offer miles and miles of climbs and descents that – bend after bend – are ideal to explore on your motorbike.

Here are some ideas for an itinerary that will satisfy the passion for two wheels and the desire to be immersed in nature, enjoying priceless panoramas.

 

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The Panoramic Passes itinerary crosses three territories, starting from Valtellina, passing through most of the province of Bergamo, jumping the border into the Brescia area and then ending in again Bergamo.
It starts from Morbegno, Valtellina, and you immediately start to climb towards the San Marco Pass.

Bergamo and its valleys offer miles and miles of climbs and descents that – bend after bend – are ideal to explore on your motorbike.
Here are some ideas for an itinerary that will satisfy the passion for two wheels and the desire to be immersed in nature, enjoying priceless panoramas.

The Panoramic Passes itinerary crosses three territories, starting from Valtellina, passing through most of the province of Bergamo, jumping the border into the Brescia area and then ending in again Bergamo.
It starts from Morbegno, Valtellina, and you immediately start to climb towards the San Marco Pass.

 

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From Morbegno you cross the Bitto Valley, or Bitto Valleys, in the plural, because there are two, one that leads to Gerola Alta and that of Albaredo that leads up to the San Marco Pass.
Bitto is a famous typical cheese, that you absolutely must taste. Some may think that the valleys take their name from the cheese, but in fact it’s the opposite, it is the cheese that took its name from the valleys. The name derives from the Bitto stream that passes through it.
The road that leads to the pass and then into the Brembana valley has ancient origins: it is the famous Via Priula, the historic commercial road built in 1593 by the Venetian Podestà Alvise Priuli, with the aim of connecting the Po Valley with Valtellina and the Alps beyond, in order to avoid the passage of commercial caravans in the hostile territories of the Duchy of Milan.
The marble plaque with the lion of S. Marco, at the top of the pass, recalls the domination of the Venetian Republic.
After the pass, a coffee stop at the mountain refuge is a ritual that no one can skip.

 

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Then go down to the Brembana Valley towards Mezzoldo, following Piazza Brembana, San Giovanni Bianco and finally Zogno. Turn left following the signs for the Zambla Pass, crossing first the beautiful Bracca ravine accompanied by rocks and streams of water that cross the road.
The 2.5km long gorge, excavated by the Ambria torrent, dates back to 1882 and required a decade of work.
In winter, you can admire an enchanting natural phenomenon, rime ice, or the crystallisation of solid surfaces that create a fairytale landscape.
Continue to Algua, Serina, Valpiana, Oltre il Colle and reach the Zambla Pass.

Little deviation to Serina, birthplace of Jacopo Nigretti, in the art world known as Palma il Vecchio. A painter who according to Vasari influenced Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti and whose works are now in prestigious museums, the Louvre, the Hermitage, the National Gallery and the Gemäldegalerie.

Pass number 2

We descend towards the Seriana Valley, Oneta, Gorno, and we reach the Riso Valley. At the junction of Ponte Nossa leave the signs for Clusone and Passo della Presolana on our left, following the signs for Bergamo. Go back through the whole valley until you reach the town of Albino and the indications “Valle del Lujo”. Take the black shed of the Scorpion Bay clothing company as a reference to help. A known company also known by us riders.
We continue to follow the directions for the Lujo Valley, we pass from Fiobbio, Casale and finally we arrive at the Colle Gallo Pass.
Attention: Small variant. After reaching Colle Gallo, on the left there is a road that leads to the Sanctuary of Altino. If you have time and desire, I suggest that before continuing, take this road and go to the Sanctuary, the beauty of the panorama over the middle of the Seriana Valley, the beauty of the place of worship, a small pearl, will surely make the deviation worthwhile.
“… The origins of the Sanctuary of Altino date back to a prodigious event that occurred on a torrid day on July 23, 1496. An inhabitant of Vall’Alta, named Quinto Foglia, was in the company of his two sons on the slopes of Mount Altino (from which the Sanctuary takes its name) intent to work in the woods.
The day was sultry, the land parched with the prolonged drought of that year; frustrated by the hardships and the scorching heat, Quinto Foglia and his two sons were suffering from great thirst.
Not knowing what to do, with the children who risked dying in those woods, Quinto Foglia turned with great confidence to the Mother of Heaven to help him in that serious difficulty. The prayer was answered, Our Lady appeared and told Quinto Foglia to beat the rock in front of him with a sickle.
Miraculously gushed a spring of spring water …. ” taken from
http://www.santuarioaltino.it/

The road in question is not great, so pay absolute attention. After a short visit, take the road from where you arrived and return to Colle Gallo.

Pass number 3

Once at Colle Gallo, a “sacred” place for cyclists, it is possible to visit the small museum of cyclists’ memories: relics, trophies, photographs, sweaters and bicycles, some of which are real cult pieces.
Start the descent towards the Cavallina Valley passing through Gaverina Terme, until reaching Vigano S.Martino and the exit for Grone. Here we begin to head towards the S.Fermo Hills.

From now on we will have to continue straight ahead, at the beginning pay a lot of attention while passing through the towns, then pay a lot of attention to the first hairpin bends, very narrow, some will have a demanding slope, the road then continues through bends, pastures, hairpin bends, woods, other turns, small villages and more greenery until you reach the last hairpin bends.
After reaching the hills we can stop in the parking lot on the right, looking out we will have a heavenly view of the hairpin bends we’ve just taken. We get back on the bike, but not to go down, just after the carpark we take the first road on our left and make our way up to the mountain refuge. Now it’s necessary to make a small stop to catch your breath after the road just driven.
After the S. Fermo Hills begins the descent towards Villongo, more corners, hairpin bends and a beautiful landscape surround us as we drive through towns like Adrara S.Martino. We follow the signs for Villongo or Sarnico. At the roundabout, usually very busy, turn left to enjoy the beautiful Lake Iseo and the road from Sarnico to Lovere, passing through the villages along the lake: Tavernola and then Riva di Solto, from here begins, in my opinion , the most characteristic feature of the road that leads to Lovere, the unforgettable Bogn Ravine.
Immediately after the port of Lovere, at the stop sign, turn left and go up until you reach the roundabout where we take the second exit towards Clusone.
The Borlezza Valley awaits us, if you are not yet tired of bends in the road, here you’ll have your work cut out for you!
Beware the road passes and cuts through towns that deserve a stop like Cerete, where you can admire the Marinoni Chapel and the mills.
When you reach Clusone, go up towards the Presolana Pass.

Pass number 4

After the pass, descend into the Scalve Valley, towards Schilpario, from here the road to the Vivione Pass begins. Don’t worry, the curves aren’t finished yet, you’re only halfway.
The Vivione Pass is perhaps one of the most underrated passes I know. Worthwhile for the unforgettable view over the Orobie.

Pass number 5

After passes, turns and hairpin bends, we descend into the Camonica Valley. Once arrived in Forno Allione, take the Tonale state road towards Darfo Boario Terme to go back to the Presolana Pass, where the itinerary will end.
Not before having driven your bike in one of the most beautiful places in the area.
The historic “Via Mala”
“… The Via Mala is one of the most scenic and spectacular mountain arteries in Europe: stunning entrance to the Scalve Valley fortress, a treasure chest full of uncontaminated natural resources and guarding a particular piece of valuable, historical and architectural heritage. This is the Provincial Road ex SS n. 294 which, straddling the provinces of Brescia and Bergamo, passes through the towns of Angolo Terme, Azzone, Colere, Vilminore and Schilpario, an exciting “portal” to enter the vast area of the Orobie Park…. ” taken from http://www.viamala.it/

When you reach Azzone, turn left to resume the road to the Presolana Pass, redoing the same road backwards.
At the Presolana Pass, in front of the queen of the Orobie, the “Panoramic Passes” itinerary ends.

 

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WARNING: A possible variant is to skip the Presolana Pass at the end and find a nice place to take a break on Lake Iseo. In this case, you will have to continue for the Tonale state road, passing the two tunnels, take the first exit on the right and continue following the directions for Lovere.

The itinerary is really enjoyable with all the turns and bends that we take, I recommend extreme caution and adequate speed because some places can be very busy. Respect for limits comes first.

This itinerary can be done in one day but the ideal is to spend two or three days and stop to enjoy the hospitality and typical local dishes.

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