Passo di Gavia - Special Stages

Gavia pass

Chris Leustean

In Lombardy, between the provinces of Brescia and Sondrio, one of the most panoramic passes in Italy, we find the Passo di Gavia.
At 2,618 meters above sea level, it is the seventh highest passable pass in Europe and connects Bormio with Ponte di Legno.
The actual altitude of the pass we point out is in doubt. There are sources that identify the pass at 2,621 meters and others as high as 2,652.

Altitude: 2.618m*
Length: 30km
Colleague: Ponte di Legno (BS) with Santa Caterina (SO)
Google Maps link:

There are traces of the pass dating back to the Middle Ages when it was a communication route to the northern countries while today it is almost only a tourist destination.
At the top of the pass is the Rifugio Bonetta and the small Lago Bianco. A few hundred meters from the pass, on the north side, there is also the Arnaldo Berni refuge.

From Ponte di Legno, take the road that goes up the slope which is certainly the most spectacular from a panoramic point of view, but it is also the one that greatly limits vehicular traffic. On this side, in fact, the roadway is really very narrow, in some points it is even difficult to cross a motorcycle.

After a series of very tight hairpin bends, the road comes out of the vegetation and runs along the side of the mountain, and it is precisely in this part of the route that the view of the valley and the surrounding mountains is truly fantastic.
Even if the roadway widens a bit in some points of this section, it is still difficult to proceed freely, both due to the decidedly uneven roadbed in some sections and because in sections there is no protection downstream.

The actual ascent to the pass from the north side starts from Santa Caterina, about ten kilometers from Bormio. Here, too, the climb begins immediately with a series of hairpin bends through fairly thick vegetation, but the roadway is wider. Even if not very wide, it still guarantees the easy passage of two cars. The road surface is clearly better than on the other side, even if going up towards the pass it is still irregular.

The panorama is perhaps not at the level of the southern slope but it is still a road that runs through a valley in the heart of the Alps and therefore it is also suggestive on this slope.

In our opinion

To recommend? Yes… Let's say it depends on what you are looking for. If you want a road to take to get excited, it is definitely not the one indicated. If, on the other hand, you are looking for an almost lost place, where nature reigns supreme, then yes, it is spectacular!
Although not exciting, it can however be an alternative to the normal state road that takes you to Bormio from where you can start the climb to the Stelvio Pass, or towards Livigno through the Foscagno Pass.
Ponte di Legno, to the south, is at the foot of Passo del Tonale, or can be easily reached from Edolo and then from Passo dell'Aprica.

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