For my fourth trip to the Italian Alps, I chose Macugnaga and Valmalenco for different reasons: Macugnaga because I wanted to see Monte Rosa, having been thwarted on a previous visit to Alagna Valsesia (see Trail 180, Valle d’Aosta) and because it has two lifts to get me up high without slogging through forests of conifer; Valmalenco because I had read about it in an old copy of Montagna magazine while staying at Rifugio Forni (see Trail 189, Stelvio National Park) and was attracted by its tangled web of high rifugi in the foothills of Piz Bernina – also because of its name: it just has a nice ring to it.
Macugnaga is a grouping of at least four villages at the western end of the Valle Anzasca, which runs from near Domodossola to the foot of Monte Rosa, to the north-west of the Italian Lakes. Valmalenco runs north from Sondrio to the foot of Piz Bernina, to the north-east of the Italian Lakes. Both of them are very close to the Swiss border which runs along the crest of Monte Rosa and Piz Bernina. They are both easy to get to by train or bus from airports and then by bus from the towns at the entrance to their valleys.
Click to enlarge the maps