Cascate del Serio (in English the Serio waterfalls) is one of the tallest waterfalls in Italy with a total drop of 315 meter. Unfortunately Cascate del Serio is a regulated waterfall that only is visible 5 times a year (for 30 minutes). Opening dates Cascate del Serio in 2021 are:
13 June: first opening of the year (11:00 to 11:30am)
17 July: the only night opening (10pm to 10.30pm)
22 August: third opening (11:00 to 11:30am)
12 September: (11am to 11.30am)
10 October: last opening of the season (11am to 11.30am)
Consult the official tourism website for up-to-date info regarding Covid.
Beside these 5 dates the flow of the river Serio is highly reduced. The scenery is beautiful and a visiting the valley is also a good idea. With any luck the waterfall is visible with a low flow rate.
Route and parking
Cascate del Serio is located northeast of Milan (100 km), near the village of Valbondione, in the upper Valle Seriana, Province of Bergamo, Lombardy, Northern Italy.
From Bergamo it is a 1,5 hour drive north (62 km) to Fiumenero and Bondione. Just follow the road until you are in Bondione where there are parking directions for the waterfall. I think you have to pay a parking fee here. From here it is 1-1,5 hour walk.
It is also possible to drive to the end of the road to Valbondione but I am not sure if this is allowed on the five opening dates. There is a small parking at a Pizzeria (gps 46.045787, 10.022246). From here it is only a 30 minute (1,7 km) walk to the viewing point. The trailhead lies in the extension of the road. I suppose there are also signs to “Cascate del Serio” or to “Rifugio di Maslana”.
Cascate del Serio is has three major stages: a big drop of 166 meter and two drops of 74 and 75 meter. In total a height of 315 meter, very impressive. One can say this is one of the biggest waterfalls in Europe with a significant volume. When the floodgates are open for that 30 minutes you will see a very powerful waterfall with a huge flow rate. The waterfall is formed by the Serio River, at a short distance from its source in the Bergamo Alps.
Cascate del Serio was closed in 1931 when the Barbellino Dam was constructed, forming the reservoir known as the Lago di Barbellino; they were only re-opened in 1969. Since 1969 they have normally been opened four or five days annually, thanks to an agreement between the comune of Valbondione and ENEL, the National Electric Energy Corporation. Between 1975 and 1977 the falls were permanently open due to dam restoration works. More information about the opening days you can find here.
A legend narrates that a lady in the village loved a shepherd, and she was jealous about his fiancee, so she captured her and closed her in a castle. The poor girl began to cry, and the flood of tears was transformed into the torrents that create the falls.
Cascate del Serio is not the only gorgeous waterfall in the area of Bergamo. A little further northeast a few of the most beautiful waterfalls are located in Valle Genova near Pinzola. The most famous one is cascate di Nardis, a 130 meter high waterfall.