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Stage 19 - Morbegno - Asti

The stage

Stage 19 starts from Morbegno in Lombardy and ends in Asti in Piedmont. The route is 253 kilometres long and runs alongside a beautiful scenic stretch of Lake Como.

Giro d'Italia 2020 & ENIT - Stage 19



Morbegno
, in Valtellina, is a small centre of art, culture, food and wine. Its numerous historic cellars promote Valtellina's superb flavours, from pizzoccheri buckwheat pasta to Bitto cheese and fine wines. In the central streets, restaurants prepare typical dishes such as Sciatt, crispy round fritters with a melted cheese centre, and Taroz, creamed potatoes, beans and green beans dressed with traditional Valtellina cheese and butter. The village is located along the Sentiero Valtellina, the River Adda cycle path, which winds through 114 km from Bormio to Colico. In addition, the Via dei Terrazzamenti starts from Morbegno, a fascinating cycle/pedestrian path among vines and villages which leads to Tirano, Tirano being the town from which the famous red train of the Unesco World Heritage Rhaetian Railway departs. Morbegno, within the Orobie Valtellinesi Nature Park, is home to the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, a natural history museum containing a rich legacy of minerals and fossils from Valtellina and Valchiavenna which is certainly worth a visit.

Ponte di Ganda, Morbegno

Crossed by the River Adda, Valtellina runs north of Lake Como to the Alps, in a succession of plains, vineyards, imposing mountains and ancient villages. Valtellina holds many small records: the Ponte nel Cielo, the highest rope bridge in Europe; the Stelvio Pass, Italy’s highest automobile pass and Trepalle, Italy’s highest town. To find out about Valtellina's other records, click on this link.

The Tour heads towards Lake Como, one of Italy's most beautiful and well-known lakes due to its charming natural scenery, its magnificent villas and the extraordinary gardens overlooking its shores. We pass by Gravedona, on the shores of the lake's western branch; the small town is located on the Via Regina, an ancient communication route which crosses the Alps on the Splügen Pass and originates in the Rhine Valley and Lake Constance. Palazzo Gallio and the Romanesque church of Santa Maria del Tiglio on the Gravedona lakeside illustrate the city's important past.

Gravedona

Going down the lake's splendid coastline lake we arrive in Menaggio, an elegant village and historical/artistic centre. With its exclusive villas and gardens, Menaggio's lakefront is spectacular. From here you can admire Bellagio and the outline of the mountainous Grigne group on the opposite side. Those who love to be close to nature can visit the Parco Val Sanagra, a park comprising woods, meadows and mountain pastures. You can visit the park's areas along various routes among mills and furnaces and see the great, centuries-old oak known as the Rogolone. The cycle path starts close to Val Sanagra's Ethnographic and Natural Museum and runs along the route of the former railway towards Porlezza.


Menaggio


The athletes fly by on two wheels but the lake continues to offer us opportunities for visiting off-route locations. After Menaggio we stop in Cadenabbia, a beautiful place which welcomed illustrious personalities in the past. These include Giuseppe Verdi, who composed La Traviata here, Stendhal, who set a large part of The Charterhouse of Parma here, and Queen Victoria of England, Prince Umberto of Savoy and many others.

Cadenabbia

In Tremezzina, in the enchanting village of Tremezzo, we come across Villa Carlotta. Built in the 17th century, this baroque-style villa is surrounded by an Italian garden. Its successive owners have enhanced it with numerous works of art, from sculptures by Antonio Canova to paintings by Francesco Hayez. In Tremezzo it's worth going for a walk in the Parco Civico Teresio Olivelli, a public park which is a small botanical and architectural jewel; its monumental stairs and central fountain were designed by the well-known architect Pietro Lingeri.

 

Villa Carlotta


We continue along the Giro's route as it passes through Sala Comacina, an attractive village in a costal inlet in which olive trees and typical Mediterranean plants are cultivated. It is famous for having been home to Alessandro Manzoni in the Villa Rachele. The Church of San Bartolomeo and the tomb of Giulio and Antonia Beccaria are worth visiting. For walkers, we recommend the Lake Como Greenway, a 10-km-long path among villas, gardens and churches along the shores of the lake. Opposite Sala Comacina is Isola Comacina, the only island on Lake Como, which can be reached by a boat service leaving from Ossuccio. The island is an important archaeological site whose most significant finding is the complex of the Romanesque Basilica of Saint Euphemius.

Sala Comacina

A little further on, the tour passes through Argegno, a medieval village divided in two by the mouth of the River Telo. The pointed-arch bridge and the stone houses built astride the river make the village of Argegno both picturesque and unique. The cycle path towards Monte Tremezzo starts from the village, a challenging but panoramic route with a view of the lake and the mountains. It’s a very satisfying 35-km track with a journey time of approximately five hours.

Argegno

Passing through the villages on the lakefront, the Giro continues its route towards Cernobbio. With its beautiful historic centre and its sumptuous villas, Cernobbio is famous for the beauty of its landscape, while visits to some of its magnificent historic residences such as the Villa d'Este, Villa Bernasconi and Villa Erba, should not be missed. Villa d'Este is one of the most beautiful Renaissance residences on Lake Como.

Villa d’Este

We return to the route's track and, before reaching Como, we stop to admire Villa Olmo, with its splendid English-style park populated by horse chestnuts, cedars of Lebanon, liquidambar and plane trees, plus greenhouses and a botanical garden. Villa Olmo is part of the Chilometro della Conoscenza [Kilometre of Knowledge], a nature and culture route which ideally includes Villa del Grumello, Villa Sucota and Villa Olmo itself.

Villa Olmo

Shortly after Vila Olmo the Giro reaches Como, the city which gives the lake its name. The historic centre is perfect for a walk, perhaps starting from the Duomo, with its beautiful late Gothic facade, and continuing along the medieval walls to the Tempio Voltiano, a museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta. Como is also the city of silk. The renowned craftsmanship of its silk weaving, dating back to before 1400, is one of Made in Italy's excellencies. From Como you can take the funicular railway up to Brunate, the Balcony of the Alps, famous for its beautiful panoramic viewpoints.

Como

The Giro finally leaves the lake altogether and heads towards Fino Mornasco, crossing lush green areas in the Bassa Comasca. We arrive in Lainate, near Groane Park, a beautiful green area with Europe's most southerly moors, crossed by a dense network of cycle paths. In Lainate we visit Villa Visconti Borromeo Litta, a magnificent example of a villa full of delightful Lombard architecture surrounded by a park packed full of fountains, statues and water features.

Villa Litta

The Giro enters Vigevano, the fortified village of Lombard origin which particularly flourished with the coming to power of Ludovico Sforza, known as Ludovico il Moro [the Moor]. The splendour of the Piazza Ducale and its arcades, the Bramante Tower, and the majestic architectural complex of the Castello (which, with its surface area of 70 thousand square metres plus 36 thousand square metres of courtyard is a city within a city), make Vigevano the renaissance jewel of Lomellina. Just outside the city you can admire the Mulino di Mora Bassa, a mill dating back to 1494, offered by Ludovico il Moro to his wife Beatrice d'Este as a wedding gift. The building preserves two water wheels and a permanent exhibition of wooden models designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Piazza Ducale, Vigevano

The Giro heads towards Piedmont and enters Monferrato, an area rich in history and traditions, with waterways, woods and vineyard landscapes which are part of the Langhe Roero and Monferrato Unesco site. Casale Monferrato is the historical capital of this region and one of Piedmont's most interesting art cities. It has been defined as a baroque city but it has beautiful structures from every era. The Duomo is one of Piedmont's most important examples of Lombard-Romanesque architecture, as well as being Casale's oldest building. Inside, there is a beautiful 12th-century crucifix, a narthex with displays of Armenian art and splendid mosaics, and the remains of the original floor. Also of great interest are the Synagogue, numerous churches and noble palaces, including the Palazzo di Anna d'Alençon and the medieval castle, which houses a library and the Monferrato regional wine shop.


Vitigni Monferrato

After Casale the Giro continues through villages and hills to Asti, the finishing point of the stage. A beautiful city between the two Monferrati, Asti was one of the most important Piedmontese commercial centres between the 12th and 13th centuries. The heart of the city features a large triangular square dedicated to Vittorio Alfieri surrounded by palaces and arcades and the medieval quarter known as the "Recinto dei Nobili" [Nobles' Enclosure].

Among the art, history and culture in Monferrato, we suggest visiting the Infernot, ancient subterranean cellars dug below ground to store the bottled wine. The typical local dishes have very distinctive flavours: tagliatelle al tartufo [truffles], risotto with Barbera d'Asti, bagna càuda [a garlic and anchovy dip], robiola di Roccaverano cheese, carne di manzo cruda con tartufo [raw beef with truffles] and, to finish, focaccia di mele [apple foccacia] and the delicious torta di nocciole [hazelnut cake].

 

Not to be missed

Villa del Balbianello – FAI

On the Dosso di Lavedo peninsula, in an extraordinary position overlooking Lake Como, Villa del Balbianello is one of the lake's most spectacular villas. Built at the behest of Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, on the remains of a pre-existing Franciscan convent, it has been transformed over time and is now a fascinating place full of art and culture, a treasure trove of rare items with adventurous connections. The Villa has been the cinematographic setting for various films, including Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones and Casino Royale. Today it belongs to the FAI—Fondo Ambiente Italiano [Italian National Trust].

Villa del Balbianello

 

The rock engraving park

Famous for its Rock Engravings and declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Valle Camonica has always been synonymous with culture, art and history. In an area which includes Roman ruins, medieval villages and castles, the rock engravings, made over the course of eight thousand years, from the Mesolithic (8th–6th millennium BC) to the Roman and medieval ages, are important evidence of the customs and traditions of the prehistoric populations who lived in this area.


Rock engravings

 

The Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy

The phenomenon of devotional mountains was already established by the late middle ages as fewer and fewer pilgrimages were being undertaken to the Turkish-occupied Holy Land. Cardinal Carlo Borromeo promoted the establishment of a network of chapels in Northern Italy to serve as places of worship while the Council of Trent (1545–1563) recognised this network's high religious and contemplative value. Following in the ancient footsteps of pilgrims in Italy, we visit the Nine Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy, to admire groups of chapels and architectural complexes (churches, calvaries and aediculae) housing statues, frescoes and paintings depicting episodes from the Holy Scriptures.

Sacro Monte di Oropa

 

By bike

 
Lombardy by bicycle

From the Alps to the Po Valley, Lombardy is the ideal region for bicycle lovers. It has more than 4,000 km of cycle paths divided into more than 100 itineraries. They connect the art cities to the lakes and the mountains to the waterways. Discover the itinearies.

Exploring Lombardy by bicycle — #inBici 7X10

Here we propose some routes starting from the Greenway dell'Oglio, a 279-kilometre route divided into five stages running from the Rhaetian Alps to Lake Iseo and then ending at the River Po, having faithfully followed the course of River Oglio and its park.

The Greenway dell'Oglio on two wheels — #inBici 7X10

The Asse del Chiese cycle path is a route for exploring the lakes of the eastern part of Lombardy. There is also the Lomellina cycle path, a beautiful route through a uniform landscape shaped by man. For more information on all the itineraries and cycle paths in Lombardy, click on this link.


Piedmont by bicycle

Piedmont is devoted to cycling holidays; it is also the region behind the history of Italian cycling. Piedmont is an exciting sporting experience for anyone who loves cycling in any of its forms, but you can also discover ancient villages, landscapes suffused with beauty, and the appetising flavours and aromas of the table. You can find information on over 100 geo-mapped routes on the regional portal dedicated to the outdoors and two wheels www.piemontescape.com. They cover 4,300 km across five Unesco sites, 355 municipalities and 17 parks and nature reserves.
Here we propose Il Giro delle Cinque Torri, one of the most popular hiking trails, which is also excellent, with a little training, for mountain bikes: it passes by the Castello di Monastero's bell tower and the lookout towers of San Giorgio Scarampi, Olmo Gentile, Roccaverano and Vengone.