Anyone who lives and breathes the thrill of driving should find the time to head on over to Italy for a trip through the Stelvio Pass at one point in their lives. At 9,045 feet, it may not be the most dangerous road in the world, but it is the highest paved road in the Eastern Alps and may suit driving aficionados just fine for a holiday destination. Especially since this famed road features 60 hairpins turns, 48 just on the northern pass, and a wonderful view of beautiful landscapes. That information alone makes Stelvio Pass worthy of just about any bucket list.
The Stelvio Pass was originally built between 1820-1825 by the Austrian Empire. It connects the Valtellina with the upper Adige valley and Merano and covers a climb of 1871 meters (about 1.16 miles). Many tourists head over during open season (June-September) to marvel at the twist and turns, including the trio from Top Gear and the great Stirling Moss.
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Stelvio Pass isn’t all fun and games. There are many accidents caused by people who underestimate the difficulty of the zig zag road and overestimate the ability of their vehicles. This is especially true from the Prato and Bormio sides where climbing is the most impressive and, at the same time, the most challenging. Even Stirling Moss - a man that has been called "the greatest driver never to win the World Championship" - had trouble on the Stelvio Pass during a classic car race in the 90s. Difficulty level aside, Top Gear set about to find the greatest roads in Europe during their tenth season and were quick to name Stelvio Pass the winner of the competition. Of course, that statement was then retracted when they visited the Transfagarasar Road in Romania, but that’s another road for another time...
Top Gear on the Stelvio Pass Road
If you do happen to take a trip to the other side of the pond, tourist guides advise that people drive the road from the north west side. Visitors can drive up the famous wall of switchbacks inly coming from that direction. When approaching from this side, they can walk through the very heart of the Stelvio National Park itself before starting the ascent. This amazing walk takes drivers through several spectacular stretches of alpine forest and many kilometers of sweeping roads before arriving at the foot of the pass.
All of this beauty comes at a price: your patience. Being one of the busiest roads in the world, Stelvio Pass will get that road rage flaring, but in the end, it will be absolutely worth it to cross it off your bucket list. So, prepare your passport, pack your bags, and give it a go!
Video Montage: A trip down the Stelvio Pass from the comforts of your home