The north of Italy is one of the most breathtaking spots in the world for adventure. There’s no end to the diversity offered up across the region.
From the Italian Alps boasting some of the most famous peaks in the world – the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso – to the distinctive spikes of the Dolomites stretching out over the eastern skyline, the beauty of the scenery is matched only by the sheer diversity and range of opportunities such terrain offers up in the outdoors.
Whether you’re a fervent road cyclist, a mountain biker, a mountaineer or even a lover of watersports, you won’t find yourself at a loss in northern Italy.
We’ve teamed up with Green and Blue, a new initiative set up to promote adventure sports in the region, to shine a spotlight on some of the best adventure opportunities in Northern Italy.
1) Ride Under the Matterhorn in the Valle d’Aosta
It may be the smallest and least densely populated region in all of Italy but the Aosta Valley is also one of the most beautiful. Bordering both Switzerland and France, Aosta offers views ranging from enormous mountains reaching over 4,000m to beautiful valley views.
A drive through any given part of the region can take you past Roman ruins, ancient castles, rivers and lakes, usually with a dramatic mountainous backdrop throughout. If you go to Cervinia, then that backdrop is the Matterhorn itself, or Cervino as it is locally known.
As well as being a winter paradise Cervinia is also becoming renowned for its mountain biking. The Dark Trail has made Cervinia famous as the place where mountain bikers can ride a route which starts at 10,000ft on a glacier before descending back down past snow, rocks, stunning lakes and unforgettable views. It’s one for the bucket list for mountain bikers.
2) Cycle Through History on the Stelvio Pass in Lombardia
Lombardia has road cycling routes to suit every level but as far as the hardcore riders go – it’s something of a pilgrimage spot.
The stunning Stelvio Pass is a sight familiar to cyclists around the globe. The winding road weaves steeply up to an elevation of 2,757m above sea level and must be one of the most photographed roads in the world. For very good reason, too. It’s absolutely stunning.
As far as cycling it goes though, you better bring your legs with you. This is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps and the second highest in the Alps. It’s the place where Italian legend Fausto Coppi famously claimed the Giro d’Italia in the 50s by putting over three minutes into his rival, and has since become one of the most recognisable roads in cycling.
3) Head to Friuli Venezia Giulia and Go Hiking in Carnia
The north-easternmost region of Italy, Friuli Venezia Giulia shares a border with Slovenia, Austria and the Adriatic Sea.
What this means is that if you head there you can expect the beauty of the water to match that of the mountains and nature reserves. We’d recommend heading to Carnia in particular. It’s a hiking haven. You’ll be strolling through stunning green hills with views to die for, and the further you go in the more dense forest, waterfalls, canyons and mountain lakes you’ll come across.
The Carnic Alps run across Friuili Venezia Giulia and boast a number of jaw-dropping mountains over 2,000 metres. Mount Coglians is the highest of these at a formidable 2780m and it’s a challenge that could make any hiker’s mouth water.