Passo d'Eira (2210 m) and Forcola di Livigno (2315 m)
From Bormio several roundtrips can be made. One of them explores the Valle di Livigno (west of Bormio), the Val Poschiavo (Switzerland, south of the Bernina Pass) and the Valtellina from Tirano to Bormio. Cycling anti-clockwise you start with climbing three 2000+ m passes: the Passo di Foscagno (15 km, elevation 950 m), followed by a short but rather steep descend and ascend to the Passo d'Eira, and finally a 500 m / 5 km climb to the Forcola di Livigno. The valley and village of Livigno is situated between the Passo d'Eira and the Forcola di Livigno. The latter saddle forms the border between Italy and Switzerland. The Swiss part of the trip goes for 40 km continuously downhill over wide roads of excellent quality. Here you can (relatively) safely reach a pretty high speed (over 80 km/h is not really a problem). Deep down at the end of the Val Poschiavo lies the Italian frontier town of Tirano (450 m). After such a marvelous descend you have to pay the price: a 900 m climb back to Bormio and further uphill to Isolaccia Valdidrento (our base). Although covering 900 m over a distance of 40 km doesn't look too difficult, there are two unexpected steep sections. One shortly after Tirano, the other not far from Bormio. Cars can use a new road that for a large part consists of tunnels. Bikes have to use the more scenic and demanding old road.
For many centuries Livigno has
been a commercially important transit region between Graubünden
and Lombardia. The Livigno region has never been occupied by one
of its neighbours. Since a free Livigno was profitable to each
of the trading partners, Graubünden has guaranteed Livigno
in the 17th century a full and "ever lasting" independence.
Later, Napoleon has given Livigno a toll-free status. Despite
being nowadays a part of Italy, it is still a duty-free district
("zona franca"). That means that you will find Italian
customs at the Passo de Foscagno (25 km before the Swiss-Italian
border), and at the Forcola di Livigno (the genuine border). Along
the road there are many shops that sell tobacco and spirits and
it is easy to find a petrol station (fuel is 50 eurocent per liter
cheaper than elsewhere).
Profile and more images.
Left: gradient profile of the three passes and intermediate descents; right: profile of the round trip (see introductory text above); note the different colour coding. The gradient profiles have been made by Ward Oud in Matlab, based on the read out of his Ciclomaster HAC 4 cycle computer. Click here to download a more detailed version of the profile of the three passes (12k pdf).