Mountain Running

Ponte in Valtellina | Run 13km | Rifugio ramble up high

This route is very close to hearts of runners from Lombardy as the rifugio ADM (Amici delle Montagne) used to be the summer training base for many of the region's top runners. They'd train twice a day, chop wood and clear trails. Pretty idyllic way to spend your summer and very different from pounding the track at St Moritz, where the mountains just make a nice backdrop. Here, the mountains are truly 'lived'.

 

Great route, it goes high, breaks the treeline and offers beautiful views. 

Not really doable in winter. Unless it's one of those winters with very little snow. 

Morbegno | Run 17km | Racing shoes on in Rasura

Starting up the valley into Val Gerola, this is a fine example of fast running, Valtellina style. A  mixed offering of terrain, this is a run that twists and turns on the mountainside with a host of treasures that reveal the centuries of life that has gone on in this valley. 

Spring, summer, autumn. 

Campo Moro | Run 20km | Digging the diga

A bit techy and arguably at altitude so you really want to pick your day to do this route. It's one of the blow-your-mind loops with beautiful trails, boulders, ridges and the crystal clear water of the reservoir, hence the name 'diga' which is Italian for dam. 

A choice of rifugios up here for a post-run cake and cola.

Summer only. Works in both directions. 

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Val Viola | Run 7km | A sprightly rifugio ramble

For anyone sleeping over at Val Viola's Rifugio Federico in Dosde, this route is an absolute must. A pre-breakfast dawn raid, a recreational hike for a jump in the lake on really hot days or a post-hike gentle cool-down jog, this 7km takes you through the most breathtaking scenery of the valley. 

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Val Viola | Run 43km | A very special hut-to-hut run

Here's a particularly mind-blowing route that starts in Val Grosina, just above Grosio. From there, a number of tracks and trails head up the valley towards Rifugio Eita. (There's also a road with restricted access but the trails on the righthand side of the road are much more interesting). From Eita, continue in the same direction and run and over Passo Verva along a gravel track. Drop down the other side and you're into Val Viola. Swing left, follow the single track and keep going until Rifugio Federica in Dosde.

Tip: sleep here and carry on the next day. 

Once you've regained your energy at the rifugio, head up towards Passo Dosde at 2,800 metres. It's pretty amazing. A slightly techy descent to a lake (the deepest in the Alps), before the downhill gets super runnable towards Malghera. This is where you might start meeting other hikers, but you'll be going to fast back to your parked car at Fusine that you won't notice. A great way to round off a hut-to-hut. 
 

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Mello | Run 14km | A lesson is finding bivouacs and descending over boulders

A spectacular route that starts at a holiday park-esque pasture that takes you by surprise. Cross the meadow, pine needle-strewn trails, a long but gentle gravel climb that escalates into sublime trails and an opportune bivouac. The descent is trickier – especially if there are still remnants of snow – but it's a superb mountain run and displays the greatest of the Basso valley. 

A route reserved for late spring, summer and early autumn. 

Castione | Run 11km | The partisans' last stand

Setting off from Postalesio means you'll get a few kilometres of flatter running to warm your legs up ready for the climb. It's a tough one, but super rewarding when you realise that you're exploring rarely-seen territory, even for the locals. Other than us, the only runner you might see here will be a former international boxer and his dog. 

The descent starts a little bit slip-and-slidy, but opens up into an incredibly runnable gravel track. 

Morbegno | Run 18km | Some call it 'the magic mountain'

A popular haunt with the Basso valley lot, and a route that just edges into a top-30 position. Avoid hot days as the summit of Colmen could be crowded. Plus, on those days isn't it nicer to get high? Spectacular flat, Scandinavian-style woodland section once you're over the top. The whole run is worth it for that. 

Year-round route for mindless running days when getting high is out of bounds but you still want to get a fix of great views and steep trails.

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Buglio | Run 12km | San Bell by name, bello by nature

This route came to fruition in 2017 for the launch of a brand new uphill mountain race, which takes place in February. It starts from Agriturismo Sesterzio (a lovely B&B that does superb food and unrivalled hospitality), and begins with a rather steep, narrow trail. After just a few minutes it eases and weaves up through the cute village of Regoledo, with a mixed bag of terrain. After leaving the village via a beautiful single track, the climb continues, criss-crossing the road before jutting off to the left and following a gravel climb up to one of our favourite hidden houses in the valley. The descent is super fast and fun, bringing you back to Monastero then Maroggia, then finally Sesterzio again. 

Finish this one off with dinner or cake at Sesterzio. It's worth it. Those guys know their wine too.

 

Year-round route.

Ardenno | Run 8.7km | The 500s, in it for the mid-valley mule tracks

Loosely based on a race held every October, this route does a beautiful climb before looping through cute villages with great views. It's fast and furious to descend. You'll have fun, we promise.

 

From the highest point you can easily add another 1,000 metres of climbing by following signs for Alpe Schermendone. It's worth it when you get up past the tree line. It isn't a particularly tough climb either, just follows the ridge line with views all down the valley from under a canopy of trees.

There's a great bakery in Ardenno to round off your run – they take a long lunch break though, so time your effort.

Year-round route.

 

Postalesio | Run 7.3km | Ca' Moroni mandem

You're bound to have a fondness for your most local route, which is why this route has found its way here. But adopted home village aside, the view from Ca' Moroni and its cute cluster of houses makes any run worth its effort.

 From Ca' Moroni it flattens off onto a gravel track for about 1km, before joining the road briefly and taking a trail up and down to the Pirimadi, Postalesio's geological addition to the curiosities of Valtellina. 

Expect to startle plenty of deer in autumn and early winter. 

Stock up on cheese when you've finished this route. Postalesio is home to the best goats cheese producers in the valley, if not the whole of Italy. They can be found just opposite the bar at the entrance to the village.

Year-round route

Triangia | Run 17km | Vineyard vagrants, the extended version

A staple run in the valley, the vineyard climb from Triasso to Triangia is a tough section of uneven steps that seems never-ending. It does end, but you might wish it hadn't because it's just so beautiful.  Obviously afterwards the first thing you should do is go and find some Sassella red wine, preferably that made by the cooperative wine sellers in the village of Triasso or by Alfio Mozzi, Valtellina's fastest wine producer. 

You can make so many variations of this run, including starting from almost anywhere: Sondrio for a longer climb or Castione for a shorter loop. This one starts and finishes in Postalesio to give your legs a warm-up and warm-down. The trail across the top of the vineyards from Castione is part of the Terrazzamenti trail, and it's just magical. 

Above Triangia you've got the option to include the lake or not. I probably would but there's some beautiful pine forest trails that loop around it.

The descent back to Castione goes by the name 'Rodelbahn', as it weaves its way playfully through the woods. Enjoy it. 

Year-round route. The wine harvest is in October usually, so that's a great time to see the hustle and bustle along the route. 

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