Alpine road trip, day 7

Livigno to Ponte di Legno

Foscagno > Umbrail > Santa Maria > Ofen > Stelvio > Bormio > Gavia > Ponte di Legno

Distance covered this day: 236km



We managed to escape from Livigno quite early and ran first the Foscagno (2291m) and then the Umbrail (2501m) in the morning sun, hordes of bikers on the road and already some ambulances around to remind me not to get too carried away carving the hairpins. Marylyn was hungry soon but I made her wait for lunch in Santa Maria, which I think is one of the prettiest villages in Switzerland. Actually the whole Mustair valley is just idyllic. With a full belly and a dull mind I turned the wrong way up the main street of Santa Maria and was almost on the Ofen pass before I realized my mistake. I love the Ofen pass, fast, sweeping bends and good visibility. I wasn’t too upset about going off-course.

We rode the loop around to Trafoi and then tackled that insane feat of engineering known as the Stelvio. I had to persuade Marylyn to try the famous wurst on top while we took in the view and contemplated this crazy ribbon of tarmac wending it’s way up to 2758m. I just had to careful not to point out the Umbrail pass down in the valley or she would realize we’d been going around in a circle. The weather was just perfect, and there was a huge crowd up there to enjoy it. The ride down the west ramp wasn’t bad, but Bormio was choked solid with holiday traffic.

We stopped at the top of the Gavia pass (2621m) for a look at Lago Bianco and the terrain there just screams to flown with a paraglider. The way down was wild and twisty with huge, steep drops to the valley on the south side. We got down to the valley and Marylyn was too tired to do any more passes or go on to the Dolomites. I couldn’t really blame her, four passes in a day is a tough day and when the Stelvio is in there it’s a really hard one. I figured if there had been this much traffic in Bormio then there wouldn’t be a single bed available further on. After a quick foray toward the town of Ponte di Legno we found a spooky, castle like place on the road and took a studio apartment for the night. Huge room, tiny bed.

We walked into town for dinner and a pleasant surprise. The old part of town in invisible from the road and absolutely beautiful. The river runs right through the town, which is in a steep valley. Bridge after bridge spans the river. It was quite cold in the evening but the restaurant had heating outside. Great food and local wine, and the local crazy lady didn’t bother us too much. Strangely, there was more life in town after 8pm than at 5, so we took a wander and joined the locals in some window-shopping before heading back to our spooky home for the night.

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