Motul roads: The Stelvio Pass

04.10.2018

When people think of a great mountain pass, chances are one of their first thoughts is the Stelvio Pass. The Stelvio Pass – or as the locals call it, the Stilfserjoch – is one of the most famous stretches of tarmac in the world, and for many the most spectacular one too. About time we lived up the experience ourselves.

 

 

 

Motul roads: The Stelvio Pass

Looking at the history of the road, it’s easy to see how the Stelvio has earned its reputation. Built between 1820 and 1825 by the Austrian Empire, its original purpose was to connect the former Austrian province of Lombardy with the rest of Austria. Much like the rest of this region, the pass was heavily fought over during World War One, with the Stelvio actually forming the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy. Meanwhile, the Swiss sat by watching on the side lines. The top above the Stelvio Pass is known as the Dreisprachenspitze (the ‘three language peak’), simply because it’s the point where three languages meet: Italian, German, and the local language of Romansch.

 

 

 

Motul roads: The Stelvio Pass

After the war, the Stelvio lost its strategic value but gained a reputation as a challenging journey, mainly because of its altitude. At 2.757m, it’s the second highest road in the Alps, surpassed only by the mighty Col de l’Iseran. Furthermore: the road also winds its way up the steep mountainside in an apparently unending series of no fewer than 75 hairpin bends, with steep drops over the edge. It’s a daunting challenge for many motorists.

 

 

Motul roads: The Stelvio Pass

Like many passes, the Stelvio has also made its mark on the cycling world, mainly in the Giro d’Italia. This is why the pass is also very popular amongst cyclists, of which you’ll see many during your ascent.

 

 

Motul roads: The Stelvio Pass

The Stelvio itself has a split personality, with two ways that you can climb the pass. One side starts in Bormio and climbs up more gradually. However, the most famous ascent is the one that starts at Prato dello Stelvio and ends with the famous wall of hairpins that makes this pass so special.

 

 

Motul roads: The Stelvio Pass

The Stelvio Pass was named “the best driving road in the world” by British motoring show Top Gear, but many people disagreed for the simple reason that these days, the Stelvio Pass is becoming a victim of its own success. The pass is now driven by hundreds of cars, bikers, cyclists, and even campervans on a daily basis and in every direction. This means that it’s not always such a pleasure to drive. The one advice that we could give the enthusiastic motorist is to choose a weekday and to set off as early as possible to make sure you can conquer the pass before the hordes of tourists arrive.

 

 

Motul roads: The Stelvio Pass

Check out the Stelvio Pass and some other great roads on the site of our partner Motorcycle-Diaries: https://motorcycle-diaries.com/en/blog/ten-great-biking-roads-italy

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