Milan to Chiesa in Val Malenco

Milan to Chiesa in Val Malenco

Classic Italian road cycling in the mountains, with Stefano La Mastra

The ‘Assault to Freedom‘ collective in Italy are a band of cyclists that take on the challenges of the mountains, riding epic distances to high summits. Stefano recently took on this ride again, but in winter, riding into the snowy mountains above Lake Como. Now, with his route information and guidance, you can share the experience and the ride, creating your own road cycling adventure into the Italian mountains, and cycling past the magical Italian lakes.

Route Information

Stats  321 km  3184 metres

Refreshments & Where to Stay

We stopped overnight at Chiesa in Val Malenco, and there are ample options here. Check out our link at the foot of this page. Refreshments are ample along the route,


This is an epic trip from north of Milan, passing Lake Como and heading high into the mountains. In winter, it’s a 2 day ride, staying just below the main climb, in the village of Sondrio. However, well equipped strong riders can take on the ride as a one day challenge in spring and summer.

Chiesa in Val Malenco Cycle Ride

If I’m going to inspire you to visit Italy and take on a challenge; to tackle and assault a mountain pass on on a bike, freeing your soul, then I’d better choose a great ride for you I guess – and here it is. My first route blog for Pedalnorth and it’s definitely a super day in the hills of Italy.

This is a great ride that we did 2 weeks ago,me and Dave on the bike; a dear friend who is part of the Assault to Freedom collective. We, it being winter, did it in two days, but in summer when in optimal physical shape, it could be done even in one day. We started from Saronno, a small town near Lake Como, and we arrived at the fantastic city of Lecco, cycling through the ” Brianza ”, an area full of continuous short but severe climbs – a famous training ground for all cyclists in the area. A worthy challenge then for you.

Climb to Ballabio

On our arrived in Lecco we started the climb to Ballabio, a small town at an altitude of 700m in the heart of Val Sassina. Once riding, we traveled the whole valley surrounded by beautiful mountains and we returned to the lake through a wonderful descent. Leaving the lake behind us, we entered Valtellina, a battleground for the most famous mountain stages in the world at the Tour of Italy, the renowned tough tour within the 3 magical grand tours of world cycling. Every pedal turn here is hard won and well earned.

Sondrio and the climb to Chiesa in Val Malenco

Arriving in Sondrio, through comfortable cycle paths that flank the Adda river to avoid the big busy roads, we aimed for the long climb that would have brought us to Chiesa in Val Malenco, where, in our case, we slept ready for the stage of the day… but rest first after our winter day in the saddle.

The second day of this epic ride starts with a very cold descent at dawn, that sees us descend from Chiesa In Val Malenco at 1000 meters to the bottom of the valley. Wrap up warm and drink coffee beforehand.

After retracing the Valtellina, we finally returned to our fantastic Lake Como, and this time instead of returning from the side from which we arrived the day before, we continued circunnavigating the rest of the perimeter to Menaggio, where we took a small ferry at the price of 5 euros. This took us comfortably in 5 minutes to Bellaggio, a small and famous town on the lake, from where the Formosa ascent of the Madonna del Ghisallo starts – another classic ascent.

Coffee at Bellaggio

Arriving in Bellaggio, after a good coffee we start the climb, and the temperatures have risen and uphill it is really good. Once we get to the top, after the usual photos and videos we get dressed and we throw ourselves in a pichiata towards the descent. After all, having won the climb, it’s time to enjoy the speed of twisting mountain roads falling to the valley, with beautiful scenes all around us and the hard work done.

Cold and happy once we get to the plains, we cycle for home once again, and as always enriched by a little new experience. After a last 40 km, we get to our cars and put an end to a fantastic two days. Driving home, the ride stats with us and enriches us. Now, it’s time for you to visit and to take on the challenge too.

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