The cross-country ski trail that runs from Livigno in the direction of the Forcola pass and arrives at Alpe Vago is truly a pearl. In particular, the stretch of track around Alpe Vago is technically very varied and fun, and allows you to ski in an almost intact natural setting, where a blanket of snow, almost always generous, covers the meadows and mountains around, and where a silence almost total helps you immerse yourself in a fairy-tale natural environment.
Cross-country skiing: Livigno - Alpe Vago (Valtellina)
Last year I had already enjoyed the pleasure of doing a day of cross-country skiing in the wide valley of Livigno (italian article available on this site). On Monday 24 January 2022, I was able to better discover the tracks of this famous village in Valtellina, trying the track that reaches Alpe Vago.
After buying the day ticket (5 euro - 2021/22 season) at Silene sports shop, and validating it at the totem next to the changing rooms in the cross-country centre, I returned by car to the beginning of the town, heading south, and I left the car at the free parking P15 (see our map in the article). I then reached the track, not far away, near the Spol stream, and put my skis on (see also complete slidegallery).
Therefore, I started skiing on a section of the blue track, already tested last year. The track winds its way, without any particular difficulty, in the sunny valley floor of Livigno. I must say that this choice can be valid if you want to warm up a bit on an easy route (on the way towards the Alpe, the route is largely made up of a slight uphill slope). But I have to say that this is not the most panoramic section of the track. Personally, in the light of my experience, I suggest reaching the area of the Letizia campsite by car, or Forcola (where, in winter time, the municipal road to the Forcola pass is interrupted, because of snow), or a little earlier, and to start skiing from here. The stretch of track between these starting points and the Alpe is in fact the most scenic, and technically the most enjoyable. In this case, before heading towards the Alpe, you might warm up with a few laps in the rings near the parking points for the car. Also consider that, more or less near the Hotel Forcola, there is a stop for the free bus that arrives and takes you back to Livigno.
Only two details should be noted in this first part of the route. After about 3 km, in the locality of Tresenda, you have an hard slope, or rather a section in which the track climbs sharply, without major technical difficulties, but with a gradient of up to 13-15%. The second circumstance to highlight is that, at this point, the track leads to the east side of the valley, and remains in the shade, until late in the morning. The temperature difference, considering the altitude of the Livigno valley (here, we are at about 1900 meters above sea level), is immediately felt. Keep skiing to stay warm. Here, you also pass by the Livigno Biathlon Arena. This point reminds us how famous Livigno is for its competitions, linked to Nordic skiing, even at an international level. After all, just look around to see the medium-high level of skiers who frequent these tracks. It happened to me, during my skiing, to hear athletes speaking American, Spanish, or other Northern European languages. Humbly and with my eyes looking down, I continued my itinerary, with the aim of returning quickly to the sun.
Goal that I achieved, when I arrived in the area of the Forcola and Letizia campsites, or the Hotel Forcola. Here (5.5 km from the start), I should have turned on my skis and returned to Livigno, after having refreshed myself. In fact, I had a day of trekking in Val Viola behind me, and another of alpine skiing. But, you know, appetite comes with eating, and I like to explore.
Looking ahead to the southwest, I saw the rocky step in the middle of the valley, above which are the pastures around Alpe Vago. After recovering some energy, during the break with the inevitable glass of hot tea, and for a piece of chocolate, I therefore decided to continue.
The track, from here, becomes decidedly more technical and beautiful. It leads to the north-west side of the valley, and climbs with a 10% gradient, under some beautiful huts, to then reverse direction, making you come down a first fun descent. Then, the track heads south, alongside the stream, and points decisively towards the Alpe. And it goes up again.... First, with a slight slope, which then becomes more and more decisive, and therefore extreme (about 7 km from the start). In fact, to overcome the rocky crag that leads to the Alpe, the track has a couple of hairpin bends, and a stretch that reaches 18%.... Use low gear, and climb up (and sweat). From 1940 meters, in short, you reach the 2000 meters of the Alpe Vago plateau.
This stretch is decidedly scenic. Once at the top, the track proceeds on level ground, and with a long clockwise loop, it takes you around the pastures below, at high altitude, to then turn towards the West, at a small bridge, and after another bend to the left, leads you to the Alpe, and its huts. Contemplate the white undulating reliefs of the pastures, where the white of the snow is "stained" by long bluish shadows, drawn by the winter sun, low in the sky.
Unfortunately, the Alpe is closed in winter. Like the Caricc hut, in Val Viola, it could be an excellent base for an overnight stay and refreshment, and to explore the area, with snowshoes or skis.
The Alpe is the highest point of the track we covered. In reality, shortly after it, a track on the left (South) would allow you to continue climbing towards the Forcola pass, beyond which is Pontresina, in the Engadin, Switzerland. We turned right and started to descend.
Going down.... The amazing thing, from here on, is that you can throw yourself into a very long adrenaline-pumping descent, which, in part, develops along the municipal road that leads to the pass, and which, as mentioned, in winter is closed and left completely covered with snow. Here, the track is very wide. Let the skis slide, push even with the rackets, and beat your speed record, if you still have toned legs, as we have seen a large group of athletes do, who raced down at full speed.
Then go back in front of the Forcola Hotel, to the Biathlon Arena, and quickly retrace a track parallel to the one you came from. Just bear in mind, however, that, in two points, a first in Tresenda, and a second shortly after crossing via Pont Lonch, you still have two uphill stretches, the second of which you don't ski on the way up to Alpe Vago. And if you are a little tired, they might not be trivial... Remember that there is always the bus on the nearby road at the bottom of the valley.... Since there was a short track left, and with a little healthy pride, we returned to the starting point in Livigno on our own legs. A tiring ski session, but very rewarding, and one that we highly recommend.
Thanks again Livigno! Fabio Muriano