We left Malles Venosta and made a short hop over the mountains to Bormio. Bormio is in the Vallantense which is altogether a different place to to the Tyrol where we had just been - more Italian and less Austrian/Swiss/German. Although its only a short distance it meant another 2 mountain passes to negotiate, one in Switzerland as the Stelvio pass was closed while they cleaned up for the previous day. The day was fine and the mountains again beautiful, the only hiccup being a short dirt section of mountain road that made Sharon more nervous than ever. We rejoined the Stevio road to Bormio, down the way the Giro had gone up the day before. No wonder they were stuffed. It was very steep and windy. Near Bormio there a a few tunnels, one very narrow where we met an oncoming vehicle with only room for one of us to fit. Luckily the Panda was up to the challenge and I managed to stop before ploughing into the other car - but it was [email protected] close. We found a nice place to stay in Bormio and set out to explore the old town. As it was Sunday things were pretty dead, but the old city was lovely. After a quick look we decided to treat ourselves after our exertions the day before on the Stelvio. The treat took the form of a visit to the local Terme or hot springs at Bagna Vecchio. This is an ancient spa from before roman times and has had many famous visitors including Leonardo da Vinci.
It was fantastic and very relaxing spending four hours or more under various forms of hot water, waterfalls, mud baths, saunas, relaxation and aromatherapy rooms. I also tried the very hot spa, very cold bath combination a few times - not bad. We went out for dinner and as we have been doing asked for the local speciality which was pizzeracheira (a buckwheat pasta with potato, spinach and local cheese) and schiatt (deepfried dumplings stuffed with cheese). So all in all it was a bit of a cheese fest, but nice.
The next morning we had to leave but there were so many great rides from Bormio, and lots of good maps and info, I had to squeeze in a quick ride before we got on the road. Straight from town the mountains rise in all directions so I chose a relatively short climb called Bormio 2000 (about 10kms). Great ride and good to look down on the town and surrounding valley. We left Bormio for Lago D'Iseo, a small lake between lake Como and Lake Garda. Leaving Bormio consisted of driving about 50kms through tunnels, steadily descending all the way and coming out in a valley below. I am in Lago d iseo now and it's really unbelievably spectacular and pretty as I sit here on the terrace looking out to the lake and adjacent Monte Isola....more about that soon.