When it comes to roads, it probably comes as no surprise that we’ll take anything the world can throw at us. We’re not picky, we just want the opportunity to get out there and drive. But every once in a while, a road comes along that is so special, so unbelievably, overwhelmingly, hyperbolically brilliant, there’s just no way we can pass off its existence as just another path to adventure. We’ve got to stop and give it some props.
The Stelvio Pass is one of those.
Situated where Italy’s boot grazes Switzerland’s thigh, a mere 9000ft up in the Eastern Alps, this winding way through the mountains has been a pioneers dream ever since it was first conceived by Carlo Donegani way back in 1820. So spectacular were its architect’s efforts, he was later awarded a knighthood for his handiwork.
Originally built as a means of connecting outlying regions for trade purposes, in what was entirely Austrian territory up until WWI, the road and its surroundings slowly developed into a popular haunt for holidaymakers as the sweeping, forested slopes became more accessible in the summer seasons. Though very few of its fundamentals have changed in the past decades, it is true that horse-hauled carriages are seldom seen navigating their way up and down the route these days.
But what it may lack in ponies, it more than makes up for in hairpins; 84 of them to be precise. Because these twists are where Stelvio’s design really excels and one of the very reasons it has drawn (and continues to draw) so many likeminded individuals in or on their varying forms of transport – motorbikes, bicycles, skis, skidoos and, of course, cars in all shapes and sizes. Horses have been steadily replaced by horsepower, the sounds of which reverberate through the immense alpine valleys in the open season from June to September.
After nearly 200 years and thousands upon thousands of exhilarating encounters, Stelvio continues to make one thing perfectly clear; if you’ve got curves, don’t be afraid to flaunt them.