Italian Alps walking holiday

“A tailor made week of hiking, place to place, with bags transferred, a bit of cable car help along the way, starting and ending in Lake Como.”


Independent hiking in Italian/Orobic Alps | Lecco | Lake Como | Pizzo d’Erna |Mount Resegone | Parco delle Orobie Bergamasche Natural Park | Cable car to Artavaggio Plains | Piani di Bobbio |Views of Legnone and Pizzo Tre Signori peaks | Biandino Valley | Valbiandino |Margno | Bellano | Optional extra to walk 'strade del viandante' to Varenna | Luggage transfers

Description of Italian Alps walking holiday

This Italian Alps walking holiday itinerary is a suggested route for a week of independent hiking in the high mountain Orobic range in the north of the country. Although it is tailor made, so we can adjust it according to your interests and abilities.

Starting and ending in Lake Como, you take on craggy summits, high valleys and alpine meadows that the Alps are much loved for but without having to be a mountaineer. We recommend the use of cable cars to transfer up to high levels, such as to the Artavaggio Plains between 1600 and 1900m, and then walk along ridges or up and down valleys from those points, to your next bed for the night.

Starting in Lecco on, on the SE branch of Lake Como, stay in a waterfront hotel before setting off on the six full days of hiking ahead of you. During this time you will stay in different accommodations, from farm stays to a traditional mountain inn, or ‘rifugio’, with your bags transferred for you from one place to the next. For example, you access your first farm stay at Mezzacca at the start of your expedition by taking a cable car to Pizzo d’Erna, an impressive summit at 1345 m, and then walk through meadows and elevated forest in the foothills of the iconic Mount Resegone. From here you have plenty of wonderful mountain walks, such as along the Sentiero delle Orobie trail, meaning that you can spend two nights here.

Your next accommodation is the traditional mountain inn at Valbiandino, one of the most magnificent valleys in the region, and still relatively unknown. Taking a cable car up to the Piani di Bobbio, a well known ski region in Italy, you will walk along stunning ridges and through mountain passes from which you will hopefully, weather depending, get views of the well known peaks of Monte Legnone and Pizzo Tre Signori. From here you can take a rest day or take on a short or long circular loop, depending on how much you want to explore, or just chill in this wonderful location. Whichever you choose, you will be surrounded by mountainous magnificence.

Your final big sweep is to Margno, a medieval mountain village where you will stay in a locally owned bed and breakfast. En route you will have glimpses of Lake Como and Lake Lugano, descending on the final day of hiking to the lake again, the perfect reward after this week of hiking challenges and achievements.

Travel Team

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Departure information

The walk can be undertaken from early June to early September.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

The Orobic Alps, a high mountain range in Northern Italy stretching from Lake Como to Lake Iseo is a region of extremely varied countryside, with rugged rocky peaks, high valleys and alpine meadows, crystal clear springs and majestic forests. 114.000 ha. of this area is regional park, divided over two regions; Bergamo and Valtellina. This tour partly touches the park of the 'Orobie Bergamasche'.

The alpine flora in the area is especially varied because of the differences in altitude and exposure, the variety in geologic conditions and the richness of surface water. Also the fauna is omnifarious and characteristic for the alps. Whereas the flora is ubiquitous, evoking enthusiasm even in those that do not have a special interest in plants or flowers, encountering a chamois or an ibex is a bit more difficult but not excluded.

Of importance for the local flora and fauna are the alpine meadows. Since keeping cattle in the mountains nowadays is not profitable anymore, there is the risk of the meadows not being maintained what will lead to a decline of habitat for site specific plants and animals (the black grouse being one of them). Apart from subsidy from the state helping the farmers there is a tendency of linking tourism and agriculture; a stay at a farmstead, eating in an 'agriturismo', buying products directly -or almost- from the farmers. The development of sustainable tourism sustains the farmers and therefore the traditional maintenance of the environment, resulting in conservation not only of the soil (landslides for example are another result of neglected maintenance...) but also of site specific flora and fauna.

- Walking is the most environmentally friendly form of travel, being of low or no impact on the environment.
- We encouraging close contact with the natural surroundings to such an extent that the walker cannot avoid feeling of growing respect for the surrounding countryside.
- we choose our collaborators for sharing our care for the environment. They are the ones that can directly transmit their specific knowledge and love for the mountains to the visitors.
- We encourage our clients to behave in such a way the impact on the natural environment is kept to a minimum.
- The route book of the hikes contains information about the flora and fauna in the area and it it treats as well some geological aspects that are the foundation, in order to enhance the knowledge and interest in matter.
- During this tour, two nights wil be spent at an 'agriturismo biologico' (organic farmstead). At an 'agriturismo', a certain percentage of the food and drinks comes from their own crops or animals and another percentage from neighbouring farms (the minimum percentage allowed differs in each region), thus sustaining the rural community as well as reducing the environmental footprint of anything served on the menu to a minimum.
- Where else possible, we work with accommodations that offer a menu ‘km 0’.
- In this rural area, the environment is sustained through promoting tourism; It helps the local people to go on maintaining the environment the traditional way, thus avoiding erosion and extinction of specific habitat.

The Impacts of this Trip

In the lower parts of the alpine area the presence of men making themselves a living has always been of influence on the environment; Cattle grazing near the villages in spring, being brought up to the meadows in the higher valleys and mountains for staying there until autumn. Lumberjacks cutting trees for building timber and firewood. Orchards, vegetable gardens, small patches of cereals and corn, often on terraces erected on the slopes of the mountains to create a horizontal surface...

And it's still like that. In the bigger valleys that are easily accessible industry has covered the former grazing fields and gardens. But once taken the small winding roads that bring up to more remote places you see that not much has changed. It's few people though that still, or again, make themselves a living in the mountains. Sustainable tourism can play a part in these small rural societies that are of importance in keeping the ambience healthy by maintaining that what men and cattle have contributed to it for centuries thus creating the extraordinary balance that characterizes the alps and the alpine foothills.

This tour will not only bring you into close contact with the natural environment but, in the same measure, it will introduce you to the local community. The proprietors of the lodgings will offer you their services, their products, their hospitality, their friendliness and care, their knowledge and their stories. Your presence is important for keeping alive the valleys, for making it possible that the local people can make themselves a living in this beautiful environment.

By introducing you to the natural, cultural and social reality by means of written information provided in the itinerary, but above all, by offering the opportunity to live among these local realities and touch on their lives, we hope to encourage love and respect for the splendid Orobic Alps and their inhabitants.


2 Reviews of Italian Alps walking holiday

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 21 Jul 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Very, very nice!!!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Reviewed on 18 Jul 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Refugio Tavecchia and the Valbiandino - great location with good walking in stunning scenery. Refugio brilliantly run by the Buzzoni family. very relaxed and the food was amazing. other than that the walks worked well given the fact that we are not regular walkers ( 1 adult and 2 teenage girls). Route instructions were clear and easy to follow with the help of the map provided. We saw very few people for most of the walk and no other non-Italians until we got back to the lake. Walks are a mix of forest and mountain with great views, options for more experienced hikers looked good with some flexibility and would be more challenging.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

non really, taxi to the cable car station on the first walking day made the start easier for us.
Beware the Italian meals and don't eat all the primo piatti even if its amazing (thinking the Risotto at Refugio Tavecchia and Gigi's lasagne in Mezzaca) as there will be a lot more food to come and you will want to eat that too!
We took basic UK walking gear. plenty of springs to fill up on water. Packed lunches were fine and we just took some extra snacks like mars bars and Haribos.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

yes, mainly on the first point. The Refugio was great as was the stay in Mezzaca. the B&B's were very local in 500 year old houses in older villages that did not receive tourists. Hospitality was excellent. most of what we spent during the trip went to small local businesses.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent. We speak no Italian, had never been to this area before, are not regular walkers and we had a really enjoyable time largely away from the tourists.

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