Passo San Marco - Special Stages

San Marco Pass

Chris Leustean

Passo San Marco is a Lombard pass that connects Val Brembana, in the province of Bergamo, with Valtellina since the times of the Republic of Venice, during which the pass was an important trade route towards the Swiss valleys.

Altitude: 1,992 m
Length: 40km
Colleague: Olmo Al Brembo (BG) with Morbegno (SO)
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Its altitude of 1,992 meters above sea level means that transit is impossible in the winter period with the opening of the road which is sometimes delayed until May.
On the top of the pass, from where you can admire a wonderful panorama, there is no structure, but some shelters can be found along the road on both sides. On the southern side, the presence of the Cà San Marco refuge, one of the oldest refuges in the Alps, whose construction dates back to 1593, is worth noting.

The Bergamo side of the pass starts from Olmo al Brembo, reachable from Bergamo along the entire Val Brembana, a valley full of high interesting routes.
The roadway is not very wide and in the summer it is rather affected by tourist and cycle traffic, which makes the climb often not very interesting from a driving point of view.
Going up towards the pass, you cross the town of Mezzoldo. Hence the traffic that usually decreases and the vegetation that becomes sparse, improving visibility, make the upward pace more interesting.
After Mezzoldo you also need to pay attention to the absence of roadside protection. The road surface throughout the climb is in good condition, particularly in the last kilometers up to the pass.

The climb from Valtellina starts right from the town of Morbegno. Here too we find a somewhat narrow roadway; in particular up to the inhabited center of Albaredo per San Marco there are some passages, near the houses, where care must be taken. The road then continues up to the pass with a roadway similar to the one we find on the southern slope but with a slightly more irregular surface.
Here, however, the road is less tortuous and has several stretches interrupted by some sporadic hairpin bends.
Pay attention to the possible presence of pastures that sometimes lead animals to cross the road.

In our opinion
It's a fantastic pass but you have to choose carefully the day you want to do it in order not to run into traffic. We recommend walking it on weekdays or in the late afternoon.

The southern slope can easily be combined in an itinerary that envisages traveling through Val Taleggio or the Zambla Pass, while the northern slope can put you in communication with the high Alpine passes towards Switzerland (Passo dello Spluga, Passo del Maloja and Passo del Bernina) and why not also take you towards the Stelvio Pass.
We recommend that you travel the pass from the south so that you can admire a more beautiful panorama of the Alps to the north.

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