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Alpine huts: Lombardy's best lookouts

Originally built as bases for mountaineers heading for the snow-capped peaks, today Lombardy's alpine huts are frequented by hikers, families and athletes in search of high-altitude summer fun: trekking, mountain biking, climbing, and more.

There are plenty of charming options to choose from, but we have put together 9 Lombard mountain refuges with an interesting story to tell... 

This is also your chance to share your experiences with us: enter the Girarifugi 2021 summer competition to win gadgets, Alpine products, and stays in some of Lombardy's most beautiful alpine huts! 

 

Historic huts in Valtellina
Lombardy is home to the first mountain refuge built in the heart of the Alps by the Club Alpino Italiano. High in the Val di Scerscen, the Marinelli Bombardieri Refuge (2,813 m) has seen many historic climbs on the Italian side of the Bernina since its construction in 1880. It can be reached on foot from Campo Moro (Sondrio) in 3 hours. Do not miss the summer excursion to Punta Marinelli (3,181 m), where you can admire the entire Bernina Range. 

In the heart of the Stelvio National Park, the Quinto Alpini Refuge (2,877 m, Valfurva, Sondrio), built by the Milan CAI in 1884, is rooted in the history of the mountains and the Alpini troops of World War I. It is used as a base for climbs to the peaks of the Zebrù, Königspitze, Thurwieserspitze and Ortler mountains. And, for a real treat, you can spend an unforgettable night in the Foxy House, a wonderful wooden hut on a spur of rock deep in the Val Zebrù.

The Gianetti Refuge, a veritable temple of mountaineering high in the Val Porcelizzo (2,534 m, Val Masino), can be reached on foot from Bagni del Masino in about 3 and a half hours. From this point, climbers can begin their ascent of the looming Piz Badile or the Piz Cengalo, or embark on another route such as the famous Via Cassin, opened in 1937 by the famous mountaineer. 

 

Valsassina: alpine huts in the "mountains of Milan"
The peaks of the Grigna and Resegone are very dear to the people of Milan. On the Grigna, a playground for mountaineers, the Brioschi Refuge (2,410 m, Pasturo, Lecco) was inaugurated by the Milan CAI in 1895 as the Grigna Vetta hut and renamed after Luigi Brioschi in 1926. It offers access to a range of paths, via ferratas and gullies to reach the summit and the "Traversata Alta" along the entire ridge, which connects the Grignetta and Grignone. 

At the summit of the Resegone (1,875 m, Bergamasque Prealps), the Azzoni Refuge—which can be reached on foot from Morterone and Brumano, by cable car from Piani d’Erna, or by mountain bike—offers wonderful views of the Alps and the Apennines. From the hut, you can access numerous slopes, via ferratas, climbing routes, and more. Roe deer, chamois and deer can all be spotted at dawn and dusk.

 

Panoramic views over Lake Como
From the Menaggio Refuge (1,383 m), at the foot of the southern face of Monte Grona (1,736 m, Mason del Fedèe, Como) you can admire enchanting views of Lake Como. After the one-hour hike from Breglia, you can keep moving or pull up a seat: the kitchen offers traditional dishes with local bread, meat, cured meats and Alpine cheeses.

You can also take in a magnificent panorama from the Riella Refuge (1,275 m, Faggeto Lario, Como), on the west side of Monte Palanzone in the Triangolo Lariano. Having reached Colma di Sormano by car, follow the footpath to the hut (1.5 hours), where a range of delicious delicacies await!

Lombardy: gourmet getaways at high altitudes
When the menu is worth the climb! Between the lakes and peaks of the Val Brembana, the Laghi Gemelli Refuge (1,968 m, Branzi, Bergamo) can be reached on foot from Branzi, Carona, Roncobello and Valcanale. Every excursion and walk leads back to a table laden with casoncelli, foiade, pizzoccheri, stews, braised beef with polenta... It's no surprise that this alpine hut won the "A tavola in rifugio" competition in 2018 with a delicious pasta dish with paruk (wild spinach) and Strachitunt sauce from Val Taleggio.

Near Madesimo (Sondrio), the Mai Tardi Refuge (1,880 m) combines spectacular panoramic views with the very best of Valtellina cuisine, using vegetables from the garden, meat from Chianina cows raised in the mountain pastures, and home-made cheeses and honey. Whether you arrive by car or motorbike, it is a great base for bike rides, walks to the Nero and Emet lakes, and excursions over 3,000 m to the glaciers of the Ferrè, Tambo and Suretta. 

 

Something different: bivouacs and resorts
The refuges and bivouacs of the Lombardy CAI provide safe shelters for mountaineers. You can find compact and futuristic bivouacs at Ferrario (Grigna Meridionale, 2,184 m) and Locatelli (Monte Due Mani, 1,657 m, Lecco).

On the other hand, if you prefer exclusivity and comfort, you will appreciate the Sunny Valley Mountain Lodge (2,700 m) in the Stelvio National Park, made entirely from local stone and Lappish fir, complete with suites, a spa, a restaurant and, in winter, a bar in an igloo!

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Ph COVER: rifugiolaghigemelli.it

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