Trip Reports: Val Masino, Italy - September 2018

Eight days into our trek around the Bernina Range, we took a little train and bus detour and visited Val Masino in Italy on the southern end of the same greater range. The mountains around here are sometimes referred to as the Val Masino Alps, or the backside of the Bergell or Bregaglia Range. Renowned in climbing circles, Val Masino is a unique and spectacular valley surrounded by soaring vertical granite peaks. We spent a couple nights in San Martino, the village at the heart of Val Masino, then hiked up to Rifugio Gianetti for a night, then over a pass and down Val Codera.

Italy, Rhaetian Alps, Val Masino, Valle di Mello, photo

Val di Mello.

On our first "rest" day in Val Masino we did a pleasant walk up Val di Mello, one of the arms of the greater Val Masino. We had a late lunch and a relaxing afternoon at a restaurant up there, then returned to San Martino.

Italy, Rhaetian Alps, Val Masino, Valle di Mello, reflection, photo

Val di Mello reflection.

Italy, Rhaetian Alps, San Martino, Val Masino, photo

Evening in San Martino.

Italy, Rhaetian Alps, San Martino, Val Masino, photo

One of many jagged granite spires towering above the village of San Martino in Val Masino.

After our two nights in San Martino (and a much needed laundry service) we hiked up to Rifugio Gianetti, one of the huts along the famous Sentiero Roma high route that traverses around the entire cirque of Val Masino. We wanted to do the entire route but after some research and consideration we decided that would have to wait for another time. At least we would see a portion of it!

Italy, Pizzo Cengalo, Rhaetian Alps, Val Masino, Valle Porcellizzo, waterfall, photo

A waterfall in Valle Porcellizzo, with Pizzo Cengalo rising above.

Italy, Pizzo Cengalo, Rhaetian Alps, Rifugio Gianetti, Val Masino, Valle Porcellizzo, hut, photo

Rifugio Gianetti below Pizzo Cengalo.

After a night at Rifugio Ginanetti we crossed over Passo del Barbacan to exit the mountains via Val Codera.

Italy, Passo del Barbacan, Rhaetian Alps, Val Codera, hiking, photo

Hiking over Passo del Barbacan from Val Masino down into Val Codera.

A kneeknocking 6,000-foot descent from Passo del Barbacan brought us to the charming roadless village of Codera, nestled in a deep gorge below towering mountainsides.

Codera, Italy, Rhaetian Alps, Val Codera, hiking, photo

A trail through the roadless village of Codera.

We arrived in Codera minutes before the rain stared pouring, and spent a lovely evening there. We were the only visitors in the entire town, and enjoyed an evening drinking wine and dining with the lodge keeper and some other locals who congregated there with us.

Codera, Italy, Rhaetian Alps, Val Codera, photo

The roadless village of Codera. (I cloned out some power lines that were connected to the roof).

Codera, Italy, Rhaetian Alps, Val Codera, photo

A splash of light over Codera, a roadless village nestled in its namesake valley.

Italy, Rhaetian Alps, Val Codera, hiking, photo

One of many stone staircases leading to the roadless village of Codera.

Italy, Lago di Mezzola, Novate Mezzola, Rhaetian Alps, photo

Walking down towards Novate Mezzola with Lago di Mezzola and Lake Como beyond.

After a further 2,000-foot descent from Codera we made it to the town of Novate Mezzola, where we caught a train and bus from Italy back to Switzerland.