The Dolomites (West-East): Part 1 The Val di Sole and Val Rendena

Published on:  | Last updated: 29 March 2017

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Distances
Ponte di Legno - Dimaro 39 kms
Dimaro - Madonna di Campiglio 18 kms
Madonna di Campiglio - Carisolo 11 kms
Carisolo - Tione di Trento 22 kms
Tione di Trento - Stenico 13 kms

This route starts at the Ponte di Legno (1258m) and climbs from there to the Passo Tonale (1683m) on the Lombardia-Trento border, leaving behind the Adamello massiccio (massif) and heading into the Val di Sole (the Vale of Sunshine). Take a moment to enjoy the views as you come down the hill. You could also stop at the Forte Strino on the road down from the Passo. The forte was built by the Austrians in 1862 to defend the border as it then was. Now it’s a museum about the first world war in the Alps.

As you come down the hill you can pick up the Ciclovia del Val di Sole at Ossana with the ruins of the Lombard castle.

While the road here is safe enough, it gets wider and duller while the cycleway takes you through the villages that the road was built to bypass. Make a stop in Pellizzano and admire the church of Santa Maria della Natività with frescoes by members of the Baschenis family - a dynasty of fresco painters whose work can be seen throughout these valleys.

The cycleway follows the Torrente Noce which is popular for white­water rafting.

The cycleway takes you as far as the village/​resort of Dimaro (766m) where you need to turn off and climb towards the Campo Carlo Magno (1702m) (a plain where Charlemagne (Carlo Magno in Italian) is said to have camped on his way through the area). Today it’s a golf course.

There are a choice of routes: you can follow the strada statale, which is fairly quiet, or there’s an off-road route following the DolomitiBrentaBike country route. I’ve seen pictures taken from this route which suggest that it is very beautiful - but as I was fully-loaded I took the option of the surfaced road.

If you take the road, past the Campo Carlo Magna you come to the scary-looking tunnel that by passes the ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio. Turn left and head through the resort - it’s pretty straight­forward - and then rejoin the road on the outskirts. There’s a very short bit of tunnel - follow the signs for Pinzolo and Brescia.

Welcome to the Dolomites: the views that open up on your left as you head down the hill are just stunning. There are a two or three viewpoints where you can stop, park up and admire the view and maybe have a picnic.

At Sant Antonio di Mavignola turn off for the Val Rendena cycleway (you could carry on the road but the cycleway, which follows the old road, is a cracker). Go past the fountain and the little chapel on your left (if the chapel is open don’t go by without taking a peek).

At the bottom of the hill are the resort town of Pinzolo and its quieter neighbour Carisolo. The cycleway detours to the church of a tiny chapel of San Stefano on an outcrop of rock above the river with frescoes by Simone Baschenis. Inside there’s a magni­ficent frescoes of Charlemagne. During the peak summer months the little church is opened up by volun­teers (see visittrentino.it for opening times - or ask at the helpful tourist office). Speaking of the helpful tourist office, if you have the time, rent the excellent audiotour of the village.

It’s defin­itely worth making the stop to see the church of San Vigilio in Pinzolo with its danza macabara by Simone Baschenis. A danza macabra is a fresco showing the great and the good of the Middle Ages in a dance with skeletal figures - there are a small number of these scattered across Europe).

Options

The Val di Sole cycleway starts at Peio Terme. It’s well worth following the cycleway to the village and then climbing up to the original village of Peio (1579m) . From there you could follow the local roads back to Ossana.

You could also follow the Val di Sole cycleway down river to its end, and possibly also pop over to the town of Cles.

Carisolo is also the gateway to the Val Genova. The road was built by the Austrians during the First World War when Carisolo was the base station for troops fighting on the glaciers high above. Stop for a day and do it as a day-ride.

More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs

Find and book places to stay with Booking.com

Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:

About these links

If you use these links to book accom­mod­ation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.

I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirm­ation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accom­mod­ation.

I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the oppor­tunity to let me know if there’s a problem.

Many properties offer free cancel­lation but it’s a good idea to check the condi­tions as these vary from property to property.

Campsites

There should be no problem finding a good campsite - these are the ones where I've stayed:

  Map of campsites along the route:  Dolomites-WE-campsites-map-show map in overlay    |    Dolomites-WE-campsites-map-show map in new window   

Transport and services

Trains

Nearest stations at Edolo or Mezzolombardo.

Restaurants

Particular recom­mend­a­tions for the Magnabò restaurant next to the campsite at Carisolo and the pizzeria Le Fontane next to the Val Rendena campsite.

Articles in this series


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