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Bertacchi Refuge at Lake Emet

At Lake Emet, an almost perfectly circular lake, overlooking the Spluga Valley.
5:00 h


One of the most picturesque and famous corners of the Valle Spluga is the basin that hosts Lake Emet, situated north of Madesimo. There are two ways to reach it: from Lake Montespluga (crossing the Andossi and traversing the slopes of Spadolazzo) or the more classic route from Madesimo (which, coming from Milan, is more accessible than Lake Montespluga).

Once you reach the hamlet of Macolini, north of Madesimo, urbanization dwindles, giving way first to pastures and then to natural woodland vegetation. In early June, millions of mountain flowers bloom in these meadows, creating a spectacle of vibrant colors, with the imposing massif of Pizzo Quadro looming in the background.

We walk first in the valley bottom, enclosed by the Pizzo Spadolazzo's retaining wall (an optional destination for this excursion), then the trail turns right to tackle the steep climb to the basin that harbors Lake Emet, with numerous switchbacks.

As shrubs, rhododendrons, and raspberry plants become sparse and the slope less steep, it's a sign that we're almost there; a little further ahead, the structure of Rifugio Bertacchi appears atop the grassy saddle that closes off Lake Emet to the west. The landscape here is enchanting: the shores of the lake are home to numerous marmots, whose whistles "welcome" us into their territory, while to the west, we're captivated by the beauty of the panorama of the peaks of the upper Valle Spluga.

By sacrificing a few hours of rest on these magnificent meadows, one can climb to the summit of Pizzo Spadolazzo, the mighty rocky "panettone" (a dome-shaped cake) that rises before us. A trail leads to its panoramic peak, perhaps not well-trodden but perfectly marked with the white-red signs of the CAI (Italian Alpine Club). From Rifugio Bertacchi, skirt the lake to the north following the signs for Passo d'Emet. Halfway towards the pass, there's a red inscription on a rock indicating the route to Spadolazzo. The path initially ascends gently between imposing slabs and rocky humps, then climbs more decisively to ascend the scree that flows from the summit "panettone."

Return to Bertacchi and Macolini via the same route.






The mountains are a dangerous environment: make sure you always have the right equipment — hiking or trail shoes, warm clothes and waterproofs in case of unexpected changes in weather conditions, a small emergency kit.


I've made an Amazon "shopping note" to make sure you have everything — ps if you buy from these links, 3% goes to support the development and maintenance of Hikes of the World 🙏.


  • Breathable t-shirt ( example )

  • Sweatshirt, fleece, or light jacket

  • Waterproof windbreaker (for example: men / women )

  • Gloves and hat (you never know)

  • Backpack with rain cover

  • Trekking poles (not essential, but they help to unload the weight of the backpack and ease the impact on the joints)

  • Trekking or trail running shoes (in great vogue lately because they are lightweight. These Salomon ones - for men and women - are an excellent entry-level, preferably Gore-Tex)

  • For via ferratas: complete via ferrata kit (I have this one , very light and compact, with this harness and helmet — or you can buy complete kits ). Buy in store to receive ad hoc support

  • To sleep a night in a refuge: sheet or light sleeping bag

  • Water bottle or thermos

  • Light crampons if you think you will find ice or snow on the route

  • Power bank or cell phone charger

  • Camera

  • Drone, for those who love to "fly" (used in moderation and at a distance from other people. I have had the DJI Mini 2 for over 2 years and have found myself very happy with it. The DJI Mini 3 also allows you to take vertical photographs)

  • Small emergency kit ( example )

  • Sun cream (essential)

  • Sunglasses


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