By now we’re soaked with saliva anticipating the first ever summit finish on the legendary Passo Stelvio at the penultimate tappa of this year’s Giro d’Italia. The race has climbed it many times, but never before have the organizers chosen to tackle the logistics of hosting the 3000+ person traveling caravan otherwise known as the best thing to happen to May since… well ever.
The revered slopes of the Passo Stelvio are within easy reach from Hotel Funivia – basically head out the front door and point your bike up the road. And the road back is all downhill.
The riding in the region is legendary too – as the climbs of the epic Passo Gavia, the torturous Mortirolo, and others are all nearby. There’s no question that a visit to see this year’s most anticipated Grand Tour stage will only be enhanced by a few days extra stay to make your own mark on the climbs that have defined winners of the maglia rosa for over a half century.
Bormio sits near the Swiss border and is surrounded by some BIG climbs.
The town to stay in is Bormio – perhaps better known for its World Cup downhill ski stops, and ancient thermal springs that have been sought after since Roman times. The town sits strategically in a valley connecting an important historic trading route to Switzerland, but today is better known for its recreational options – skiing in winter, hiking & cycling in the summer. Two of the three valleys that converge here take you up – (to the Stelvio & Gavia), while the third takes you down to where the Mortirolo and the other side of the Gavia are easily reached.
The whole area is steeped in Giro history, and a perfect place to stay is Hotel Funivia, in Bormio.
The Hotel Funivia in Bormio is one of the premiere bike hotels – and with its location beneath the mythical climbs of the Stelvio, Gavia, and Mortirtolo, amenities, Italian hospitality, food and wine, the appeal of a cycling trip here is obvious.
Recently I talked with Daniele Schena – manager of the hotel about everything that makes bike hotels different, and why Hotel Funivia stands out.
Pez: Why did you become a ‘Bike Hotel’?
Daniele: I am a keen cyclist and after hearing about Italy Bike Hotels I was interested in learning more. I began visiting some of IBH around Riccione. They were very cyclist orientated and catered perfectly to a cyclist every need. After my visit I returned to Bormio with a clear vision and motivation to promote Hotel Funivia as a specialist Bike Hotel .
Pez: Tell us about the history of the hotel.
Daniele: Hotel Funivia is a family run hotel which first opened in1956. Since then the Bonacorsi family continued to run the Hotel being passed down generation to generation. In the last 10 years it’s been run by my wife Elisa and I, and before being involved in Hotel business we both worked as a ski instructors in Bormio.
Rooms are typically modern European – clean & comfortable.
Pez: Are you a cyclist yourself?
Daniele: Yes! I’m a very keen cyclist. I raced as an amateur when I was younger and continue to race in many of the Gran Fondos around Italy. Last April I took part in the amateur Tour of Flanders – which was an amazing experience. During the summer I ride every day as a guide.
Pez: As an Italian living in such a beautiful area of Italy, and looking at the mountains every day – what do you think is most special about the area?
Daniele: As you can see on our website Bormio is in a perfect location to base yourself to tackle some of the biggest and most famous climbs in Italy including Stelvio, Gavia and Mortirolo. The weather is perfect for riding during the summer, not too cold or hot and offers some spectacular views of mountains, flora and fauna. Bormio also has a wide range of other activities including Thermal spas and hiking.
Giacomo Schena is director of the bike operations – which includes leading group rides. Nice work if you can get it.
Guests can book packages that include guided rides over the Stelvio, Gavia, and Mortirolo climbs (others too), or choose to guide themselves. The guided rides leave after breakfast at a set time, and are open to all hotel guests who want to join. Most rides include van support, and emergency assistance is always nearby.
Bormio is no stranger to the Giro, the penultimate stage started here in 2010, and rolled right past the Hotel Funivia.
THE GIRO IS COMING!
Pez: The Giro d’Italia will stop in Verona for the TTT, and then also Bormio for the penultimate stage finishing on the Stelvio. What do you have planned for guests wanting to see the race, and is there still room to book a space?
Daniele: For this year we have planned a special weekend package. On the Friday we will ride the Mortirolo pass from the direction that the Giro riders will take on their way to the finish on top of Stelvio. On the Saturday we go up to Stelvio to watch the finish of the penultimate stage, the biggest (altitude gain + distance) in Giro history. On Sunday we will ride up the Gavia pass. It will be a great weekend of spectating and riding. Regardless of the Giro is passing through the area, this is our opening schedule each year for the cycling season.
Pez: When is the best time to book a cycling holiday in Italy?
Daniele: June is the best month to come as the days are longer and the weather is warm, but September is also very beautiful because of Autumn colours in the mountains. The end of May is also a great time as it coincides with the opening of the mountain passes and the Giro d’Italia.
MORE THAN EXCELLENT CYCLING
Pez: Having ridden in the area several times myself, I can attest that the cycling is fantastic. But what other activities are there for your guests, perhaps for spouses who do not cycle?
Daniele: Bormio has activities to cater for everyone, not just cyclists. From relaxing at some of ancient thermal spas where you can go to be pampered, to enjoying some of the beautiful hiking trails around the surrounding hills. The shopping in and around “via Roma” (pedestrian street) in the centre of Bormio is also great.
Funivia is equipped with a large and secure bike storage area and workshop.
Pez: Bike storage, bike rentals, mechanics – are these available as well?
Daniele: We have brilliant bike storage room – it’s 75 sqm (800+ sq. ft.) and can hold up to 70 bikes. It comes complete with workshop stands, tools and a cleaning area. The room is very secure and has full video surveillance with pin code and swipe card entry.
The hotel also has 10 full carbon Pinarello bikes for rental if you can’t or don’t bring your own bike.
Along with our fully equipped workshop/ bike storage room our guides are available to help with minor repairs and maintenance. For any more serious repairs or repairs that require specialized parts we have a very good relationship with the local bike shops (Mapo bike and Bormio Ski & Bike).
Pez: Tell us about your guides. I know a lot of riders like to point their bikes and go, but having a local guide along can be a real benefit.
Daniele: We have three full time bike guides, including my brother Jack and myself. We are all very experienced and have a very good knowledge of the area and its bike routes. Our 3rd guide Richard is also the Chief Selector for the Swiss Olympic cycling team (Beijing 2008 and London 2012).
Funivia’s guides are experienced cyclists and know the area well. Here’s Richard leading the way.
On the long loops (Stelvio, Mortirolo, Gavia etc) we have all three guides accompanying the group and a support van that follows carrying food, drinks, extra clothing and mechanical supplies for the ride. On the shorter loops around Bormio and surrounding towns we have two guides to accompany the group and the support van is only a phone call away.
As all the routes involve climbing of varying degrees of difficulty people ride at their own pace and all meet at the top. One guide is always at the front and another always follows at the rear along with the support van.
Beyond fantastic cycling, most if us rave about Italian food. Packages include breakfasts from a hearty buffet with plenty of choices to fuel up for a day of cycling, and dinners are typical Italian fare prepared by the hotel’s own chef – and ‘typical Italian’ means mouthwateringly delicious to most people who don’t live there. If you feel like venturing across the small bridge into the town, there are plenty of ristoranti, trattorrie, and pizzerie to satisfy your hunger.
Funivia offers a package with Hotel Veronello that includes 4 days riding around on Lago Di Garda.
RIDE LAKE GARDA TOO
Pez: You have a special offer with Sport Hotel Veronello on Lake Garda to spend a few days each in Lago di Garda and Bormio (which also includes airport pick up and drop off, and transfers between the hotels)m – both excellent riding areas steeped in Giro d’Italia history. How did the collaboration get started and what do guests like most about it?
Daniele: It started because I was good friend with Nicola Verdolin from Sport Hotel Veronello and we shared a passion for cycling and local tradition including food and wine! I think the package as a whole (all inclusive) not only makes guests feel at ease but also offers them the best of both locations. The welcoming and helpfulness from staff and guides at both Hotels plays a big factor in guests returning and talking highly of their experience.
BOOK YOUR TRIP
• The 7 nights/ 8 days Stelvio Bike Experience & Lake Garda package costs 1,499.00 euros per person in a Classic room. Bike rentals cost extra.
• Get more info at the website: HotelFunivia.it