Holiday with a bicycle or cycling holiday… No matter what you call it, having your bicycle during the holiday period is a great chance to keep yourself both fit and happy without calculating the calories you get thanks to the great Italian cuisine. Yet if you are one of those who like being closer to nature during the vacation, your bicycle will surely be your best friend because Bergamo is surrounded by countless hills which you can reach within few kilometers from leaving the city center.
I’m such an admirer of people who bring their bikes to every destination and it’s always a pleasure to suggest routes for such people because I know that they’re looking forward to riding their bikes. I love to plan their routes or their whole vacation.
Best climbs, alternative routes for the rest days, nicest bars and restaurants, key locations for photos, biggest cycling shops and the best times of the year… Such details should be carefully examined and I love to think about every detail in order to maximise their pleasure.
The number of my friends who want to visit me has risen considerably since I post a remarkable amount of photos on Instagram from where I ride. So they would like to know more and more about Bergamo and the surrounding mountains where they can train in a really serious way.
Bergamo is a lovely city situated in the Lombardy region, famous for its lakes and its high income level, which can be regarded as medium-sized city by European standards. The city is located on the southern slopes of the Alps, and when you go 8-10 kilometers from the city to the north, west, or east, you begin climbing these mountains, also known as the Pre-Alps.
In Bergamo there are a lot of small bike shops both in the city and on the popular climbing routes. The people of Bergamo (Bergamaschi) are quite accustomed to cycling in a sporting sense. The majority of them are road bikers, but still the number of mountain bikers is quite high.
Most of the climbing routes are very close to the city, which are well balanced for each cyclist type and the difficulty ratings are scattered. Selvino, Bedulita, Valcava, Nese and Roncola are just a few of them. You can also head to Lecco, Iseo, Garda, Endine or Como lakes, and you can try climbing the mountains around the lakes. If you’re up for Como, do not ride back without trying Madonna del Ghisallo climbing and remember to visit the cycling museum there. And if you’d like to give a try for Lecco, the gentle climbs of Morterone wait for you with their stunning switchbacks.
These routes, if you are staying somewhere in the city, will take you a total of 60 to 150 kilometers of departure and arrival. You can decide according to your physical situation and weather conditions, and if possible, I suggest you to start your ride by the sun rise.
Bergamo, which is a favourite destination for the tour of Lombardy and Giro d’Italia, is also very close to the Swiss border, so you have the possibility to travel further north and directly around the Alps. Starting from the village of Chiavenna which is at the end of the lake of Lecco, you can complete the Splügen Pass and then return to Chiavenna to spend a night there or you can do a one day trip by checking the schedule from www.trenitalia.com in the early hours of the morning and then you can go back on the same day by train. You can usually find a private area to keep your bike safe.
If you seek for a HC level climb without going too far from the city, you can try the San Marco Pass. Passing through San Pellegrino, Passo San Marco is at an altitude of about 2000 meters, and it takes about 120 kilometers in total from the city center of Bergamo.
Once you go for long rides in mountains around Bergamo, it would be good if you have a pair of arm warmers or a sleeveless wind jackets in your pocket even if the weather is warm, because you will pass through many valleys. It may be difficult to keep yourself warm in these valleys where the degree remarkably decreases. Besides, if you ride early in the day, the wind on your chest during the long descents will be uncomfortable too.
If you are addicted to the Gran Fondo races, you can also come to Bergamo only to join Felice Gimondi Gran Fondo. The racing route that passes through the popular climbing routes I mentioned above is something special.
You can take long walks in the historic part of Bergamo, known as Città Alta, which is reached by foot or funicular, and offers delicious food in restaurants such as Da Mimmo, Circolino or Franco, which also offers spectacular views for the days that you’re not keen on cycling. Città Alta is surrounded by the Venetian Walls, which are now a Unesco World Heritage site, and they offer great views.
Orio Al Serio airport is 10-15 minutes away from the city, and it is possible to find flights for every day. There are many hotels and hostels both in and out of town for accommodation. If you consider a long term stay, Airbnb can be a good alternative as Italian hosts are willing to give you discounts for long stays.
Gökhan Kutluer – Follow him on Instagram