Passo dello Stelvio - Special Stages

Stelvio Pass

Chris Leustean

The Stelvio Pass, one of the most famous roads in the world, known throughout Europe and beyond, thanks also to the Top Gear service, separates Lombardy and Trentino and is the highest pass in Italy and the second highest in Europe.

Altitude: 2,757m
Length: 35km
Connects: Bormio (SO) with Trafoi (BZ)
Google Maps link:

From Lombardy you go up from Bormio through the SS38. A perfectly paved road with a not very wide carriageway, especially in the vicinity of some tunnels dug into the rock which must be tackled with care.
The first part is a fast mix with only a few hairpin bends up to an altitude of 2000m when you meet a series of 14 hairpin bends interspersed with short straights to then enter a stretch, now over 2200m, which climbs in a very fast drive towards the pass .
The panorama, especially in this last stretch, is stupendous and the absence of vegetation allows great visibility. However, the road, being very well known, is also very busy, especially by cyclists, and therefore you need to be very careful

At the Pass there are many infrastructures such as hotels, shops, restaurants and bars, being also a ski resort where you can also practice summer skiing, therefore also very important from a tourist point of view.

On the opposite side, the ascent to the pass begins in Prato allo Stelvio, which can be reached from Merano, but becomes interesting in the section after Trafoi.
On this side, the roadway is a little narrower than the climb from Bormio, with a surface that is not always in optimal conditions. There are many narrow hairpin bends (46 from Trafoi) interspersed with more or less short straights which form the image of the Stelvio that we all have in mind. The panorama initially a little hidden by vegetation then opens up with all its beauty. From the top of the pass, in addition to the panorama over the valley, the entire stretch of road that descends to the valley is visible.

In our opinion

The Stelvio Pass is certainly one of the most spectacular destinations that you can ever plan for a trip by car but, a little against the tide, we are not convinced that it is the most beautiful road ever.
The east side, the most famous, is as spectacular to see as it is "difficult" to drive. The many hairpin bends are often tight which can even lead you to maneuver, and their continuous succession will often put you in the position to aim just for second gear and then return to first to execute the next one.
The Lombard side of the pass is certainly more fun and exciting, characterized by a much more varied route.
The biggest problem is the huge tourist influx which often causes real queues.
Do we recommend it? Surely! But we recommend, if possible, to go up to the pass or during the week or at least in the late afternoon, so as to find little traffic and enjoy this magical place to the fullest!

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