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Stelvio Pass Road

One of the most beautiful mountain roads in the Alps leads through 48 hairpin bends from Prad in the Vinschgau to the highest pass in Italy.

Stelvio Pass Road (2757m)
Stelvio Pass Road (2757m)
Stelvio Pass
Stelvio Pass

The Stelvio Pass, at 2,757 meters above sea level, is the highest mountain pass in Italy and the second highest paved pass in the entire Alps, after the Col de l'Iseran in France. It connects South Tyrol with Lombardy, specifically the Vinschgau with the Valtellina. Until modern times, the Stelvio Pass was rarely used, and it wasn't until the late 18th century that attempts were made to improve the connections to the north from Bormio. A road over the pass was planned, but the upheavals in Europe as a result of the Napoleonic Wars brought the project to a standstill.

After the end of the wars and the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the idea of a road over the Stelvio Pass resurfaced. Lombardy and South Tyrol were part of the Austrian Empire, and so Emperor Franz I commissioned the road in 1820 as a strategically important Alpine transversal to better connect Lombardy to the rest of the empire. The construction took place from 1820 to 1826, and due to its military significance, the road was even kept open in winter at great expense. When Lombardy fell to the new Kingdom of Italy in 1859, the border now ran over the pass.

During World War I, the Stelvio Pass was a frontline, and today one can still see the remnants of bunkers and fortifications. The road was heavily damaged by the war, and it was not until after the end of the war that it was repaired. Since South Tyrol now belonged to Italy, there was no longer a border post at the pass.

The "Queen of the Alpine roads"

Since its construction, the road has remained essentially unchanged. In total, it is just over 49 km long, with 48 hairpin bends leading from Prad in the Vinschgau to the pass, and 34 from there back down to Bormio. Those approaching the pass from Prad can see almost the entire road with its tight hairpin turns ahead of them, as well as the impressive panorama of the Ortler Group to the left. It is no wonder that this road is called the "Queen of the Alpine Roads." Unfortunately, during the summer high season, the Stelvio Pass also becomes the "highest amusement park" in the Alps. Motorcycles, cars, campers, and cyclists crowd the road and somewhat detract from the unique experience. Those who truly want to enjoy this magnificent mountain road should try to drive it outside of peak holiday times, ideally in late summer and not on weekends.

Every year in September, the Stelvio Pass road is closed to all motorized traffic for a day, and it belongs solely to the cyclists. In recent years, around 6,000 cyclists have taken advantage of the fantastic opportunity to tackle the pass road without interference from car traffic on the Stelvio Pass Cycling Day. The Giro d'Italia also regularly crosses the Stelvio Pass.

The Stelvio Pass road is open depending on the weather from around the end of May to September.

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