The Bergamasque Alps (Alpi Orobie in Italian) and Prealps (Prealpi Bergamasche in Italian) are two subsections of the same Bergamasque Alps and Prealps range in Lombardy, the north of Italy. The main bulk is located in the province of Bergamo, however they partly touch the provinces of Sondrio, Lecco and Brescia.
The borders are as follows: to the north, they are between the Adda river (to be more precise, between the Aprica pass and Como lake) and the Corteno valley. To the east, between Val Camonica and Lake Iseo, the Po valley to the south and Lake Lecco - Lake Como to the west.
The area features 894 named mountains. The highest and most prominent in the range is Pizzo di Coca (3,050m elevation and 1,878m prominence, thus it is an Ultra). Despite relatively modest elevation, Grigna (2,410m elevation and 1,687m prominence) makes up another Ultra of the Bergamasque Prealps. It is actually a mountain of two peaks: Grignone, which is higher, and Grignetta, which is slightly smaller (2,177m). The range also have a funnily called mountain Pizzo dei Tre Signori (2,554m), the name of which marks the historical division of the area between the State of Milan, the Republic of Venice and the Grisons canton of Switzerland.
According to SOIUSA code, the Bergamasque Alps and Prealps are subdivided into two sections:
Alpi Orobie / Bergamasque Alps
- Alpi Orobie Orientali / Eastern Bergamasque Alps
- Alpi Orobie Occidentali / Western Bergamasque Alps
Prealpi Bergamasche / Bergamasque Prealps
- Prealpi Bergamasche Occidentali / Western Bergamasque Prealps
- Prealpi Bergamasche Centrali / Central Bergamasque Prealps
- Prealpi Bergamasche Orientali / Eastern Bergamasque Prealps
This is an enchanting area, surrounded by valleys where the sweetness of nature alternates with the wild spirit typical of the Alps.
This environment is dominated by the huge Parco delle Orobie (Bergamasque Alps Park), which is about 6300 hectares of pristine forests and pastures. It features extraordinary environmental richness and a wide variety of fauna and flora, easy to be discovered thanks to the convenient network of mountain huts located on the territory.
One of the main features of the Park is the abundance of streams, creeks and rivers that make you marvel at the natural wonders every step you take. There is the Serio waterfall in Valbondione (the highest waterfall in Italy), its picturesque gorges carved into the rock over the centuries. The Dezzo stream in Valle di Scalve and Enna stream in Val Taleggio are also must-sees.
Major Trails and Hiking Areas
- A steep and very prominent Monte Legnone is an optimal way to see the Bergamasque Alps from the top. Breathtaking chasms and lake Como views are the bonus.
- Rifugio Cesare Benigni 2,220m in Ornica (Alta Val Brembana). Those who are coming from the Bergamo area can easily find the mountain path No. 108 from Cusio or No. 107 from Ornica. Both of them lead to path No. 101 to Salmurano Pass. Close to the mountain hut, there's a tiny bright lake, called Lake Piazzotti; it is a body of azure blue water set between large boulders with an extraordinary natural balcony towards the Central Alps and the Orobie. Cima di Valpianella is just a mere 15 minutes walk from the mountain hut.
- Piazzatorre is called the pearl of the Alta Val Brembana, one of the most touristic and wonderful places both in winter and summer. If you are a mountain lover, it is a perfect place with several hiking trails to discover. Furthermore, it's quite common to see beautiful specimen of chamois and roe deer during while trekking from Passo di Monte Colle to Monte Secco, for instance, or from Piazzo to Laghi Gemelli.
- The trail to the summit of Pizzo di Coca is one of the most famous mountain paths in the area. Located in the Northern Val Seriana, it is the highest peak of the Orobie mountains with an elevation of 3,050m. The difference in altitude is 2,200m and the trail is about 18 km long. It takes about 5 hours to get to the peak and an hour less to descend. For most of the route, you feel as if you are warming up for an easy fitness training. The itinerary becomes technically demanding in the last part, between the "bocchetta del camoscio" and the summit. There are some exposed passages where hikers must be highly concentrated. Nevertheless, the hard challenge is completely rewarded by the stunning 360° view. You are on the roof of the Orobie.
- Presolana Pass: from this pass in Val Seriana, there are a few easy trekking paths, which are perfect for families and for an easy going half day out with friends to enjoy a beautiful panorama of the mountainous terrain. The two well-known routes lead to Baita Cassinelli (Cassinelli Hut) and Baita Cornetto (Cornetto Hut). They both give you the chance to get closer and have a privileged view of the mount Presolana (2,511m), which takes on a wonderful pinkish colour at sunset, just like the Dolomites.
- Resegone: Another unmissable trekking trail is the one starting from Piani d'Erna in the province of Lecco and goes up to the peak of Resegone (1,875 m). It is a 5-hour trail of medium difficulty. The Rifugio Azzoni (1,860m) is located on the summit of Resegone, the mountain symbol of the city of Lecco. From this point you can admire a breathtaking view that spans from Monte Rosa to Adamello, from the Bernese Oberland to the Apennines.
Cable Cars and Cog Railways
- The most famous cable car in this area is the one that we find in the city of Bergamo, which is not too far from the mountain areas. There are actually two cable cars in the city. The scenic one leads to the Old Town (Citta Alta). It's definitely worth the experience: it connects the lower part of Bergamo with the upper part thanks to a system inaugurated in 1887 and renovated with the passing of time. The difference in height is 85 meters, with a maximum gradient of 52%. On top, the perspective over the valley changes completely, leaving the tourist astonished.
- There are good news for those who want to visit Val Brembana. In 2017, 5 million euros were allocated to give new life to the funicular in San Pellegrino Terme; the works are about to end now. After 29 years, the cable car will finally pick up citizens and tourists in the town of San Pellegrino to let them reach the village of Vetta.
- Pescegallo - Valgerola cable car near Rifugio Cesare Benigni.
- Pian delle Betulle from Margno
- Alpe Cainallo from Esino Lario
- Piani di Bobbio
- Piani di Artavaggio
Major Cities and Resorts
The areas around Bergamasque Alps and Prealps are very well organised. Any kind of tourist can quickly find what they are looking for: any type of accommodation ranging from luxury hotels to modest apartments and hostels or mountain huts that can meet your needs any time of the year.
- Val Seriana - Castione della Presolana, Bratto, Dorga, Rovetta are all small villages full of good accommodation. They are all close to the wonderful mount of Presolana and not too far from “Alta Val Seriana”, from where you can reach Pizzo di Coca.
- Val Brembana: San Pellegrino Terme has a different charm from any other town or village in the whole valley. With its casino, grand hotel and famous spa, it assures a pampering holiday mixed with a very active one, thanks to the amazing mountain trails the area offers around the Western Bergamasque Alps.
- Valsassina: this valley is near Lecco and quite close to Milan. This is why it is full of holiday houses and second houses belonging to the citizens of those cities. However, there are some good hotels even here in villages such as Barzio and Cremeno, which are great starting points to reach the so called “Piani di Bobbio” and “Valtorta”.
- Bergamo itself. With a population of just under 120,000 and covering only 40 square kilometers, this quaint little city, nestled in the Province of Bergamo, has surprisingly a lot to offer. It is furthermore one of the most interesting cities in Lombardy for its geographical peculiarities, art heritage and industrial business. It is located at the edge of the Lombard plain, at the junction of the Brembana and Seriana valleys and it is neatly divided into two parts: Bergamo Bassa (249 m), flat, modern and lively; and Bergamo Alta (365 m), hilly, Medievally taciturn and peaceful.