Stelvio Pass

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Stelvio Pass
Italian: Passo dello Stelvio[1]
Giogo dello Stèlvio[2]
German: Stilfser Joch[1][2]
The Stelvio pass.jpg
Some of the 48 hairpin turns near the top of the eastern ramp of the Stelvio Pass
Elevation2,757 m (9,045 ft)
Traversed byStrada Statale 38
LocationBorder of South Tyrol
and Sondrio provinces,
RangeEastern Alps
Coordinates46°31′43″N 10°27′10″E / 46.52861°N 10.45278°E / 46.52861; 10.45278Coordinates: 46°31′43″N 10°27′10″E / 46.52861°N 10.45278°E / 46.52861; 10.45278
Stelvio Pass is located in Alps
Stelvio Pass
Stelvio Pass
Location of Stelvio Pass in the Alps.

The Stelvio Pass (Italian: Passo dello Stelvio [passo ˈdello ˈstɛlvjo], Giogo dello Stelvio [dʒɔgo ˈdello ˈstɛlvjo]; German: Stilfser Joch; [ˈʃtɪlfsɐ jɔx])[1][2] is a mountain pass in northern Italy bordering Switzerland at an elevation of 2,757 m (9,045 ft) above sea level. It is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the Alps, 7 m (23 ft) below France's Col de l'Iseran (2,764 m (9,068 ft)).


The pass is located in the Ortler Alps in Italy between Stilfs ("Stelvio" in Italian) in South Tyrol and Bormio in the province of Sondrio. It is about 75 km (47 mi) from Bolzano and a mere 200 m from the Swiss border. The Umbrail Pass runs northwards from the Stelvio's western ramp, and the "Three Languages Peak" (Dreisprachenspitze) above the pass is so named because this is where the Italian, German, and Romansh languages meet.

The road connects the Valtellina with the mid Venosta valley (the Vinschgau) and Meran. Adjacent to the pass road there is a large summer skiing area. Important mountains nearby include Ortler, Thurwieserspitze, Trafoier Eiswand, Monte Scorluzzo, Piz Umbrail, and Piz Cotschen.[3]


Part of the Stelvio Pass

The original road was built in 1820–25 by the Austrian Empire to connect the former Austrian province of Lombardy with the rest of Austria, covering a climb of 1,871 m (6,138 ft). The engineer and project manager was Carlo Donegani (1775–1845). Since then, the route has changed very little. Its seventy-five[citation needed] hairpin turns, 48 of them on the northern side numbered with stones, are a challenge to motorists. Stirling Moss went off the road here during a vintage car event in the 1990s, with an onboard video of his incident being shown on satellite TV.[citation needed]

Before the end of World War I, it formed the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Italian Kingdom. The Swiss had an outpost and a hotel (which was destroyed) on the Dreisprachenspitze (literally, Three-Language-Peak). During World War I, fierce battles were fought in the ice and snow of the area, with gun fire even crossing the Swiss area at times. The three nations made an agreement not to fire over Swiss territory, which jutted out in between Austria (to the north) and Italy (to the south). Instead they could fire down the pass, as Swiss territory was up and around the peak.[4][5] After 1919, with the expansion of Italy, the pass lost its strategic importance.

Aldo Moser navigating the snow atop the Stelvio Pass during the 1965 Giro d'Italia

The Stelvio Pass remains important for sport when it is open from May through November.[6] Countless cyclists and motorcyclists struggle to get to the highest stretch of road in the Eastern Alps. It is the highest finish of any Grand Tour.[7] The Giro d'Italia often crosses the Stelvio Pass (it was crossed by the Giro for the first time in 1953, when Fausto Coppi beat Hugo Koblet). As the highest peak, it has been named the Cima Coppi in each edition. The last winner on the pass was Jai Hindley in 2020. Every year, the pass is closed to motor vehicles on one day in late August when about 8,000 cyclists ride and around 25 runners run to the top of the Stelvio.

Bormio regularly hosts World Cup ski racing, usually in late December for a men's downhill event; its Pista Stelvio is among the most challenging courses on the circuit.

The Stelvio Pass was also picked by the British automotive show Top Gear as its choice for the "greatest driving road in the world", although their search was concentrated only in Europe.[8][9][10] This conclusion was reached in the first episode of the show's 10th series after the team went in search of a road that would satisfy every "petrolhead's" driving fantasies. Top Gear later decided that the Transfăgărășan Highway in Romania was a superior driving road.

In 2008, Moto Guzzi started selling a Stelvio model, named after the pass. Alfa Romeo debuted its Stelvio crossover SUV at the 2016 Los Angeles Motor Show.

The Stelvio Pass Glacier in Italy, at an altitude of 3,450 metres (11,320 ft), normally permits skiing year-round, but was closed to skiing for the first time in 90 years in August 2017 due to a heatwave.[11]

Stelvio National Park[edit]

Geographical framework[edit]

[12]The Stelvio National Park is the largest in the Italian Alps. It has been protecting the Ortles-Cevedale massif since 1935, as well as some minor chains that flank it.

The whole area, according to SOIUSA (the new subdivision system of the Alps entered into force in 2006) belongs to the Southern Rhaetian Alps, which are part of the South-Eastern Alps.

Iberian Wolf

The Stelvio Park, despite all the problems, managed to safeguarding fauna and flora of extraordinary value. For example, deer, chamois, ibex and for some years the return of the wolf has been confirmed.


Hiking enthusiasts find all kinds of itineraries on these mountains. Comfortable paths characterized by dirt roads and classic paths, but also more strenuous paths with scree.


Among the refuges there are the classic "huts" but also numerous mountain huts-farms, and useful support points for hikers. Among the most famous works of man are the Stelvio road, built at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the military one of Gavia.

The geology[edit]

[13]The Ortles-Cevedale mountains stand on a crystalline base of metamorphic rocks, characterized by Mesozoic and Tertiary sedimentary rocks. To the south and east of these rocks, other important peaks (the Cevedale, the Vertana, practically all of them the Thirteen Peaks) are made up of quartz phyllites, where we can see quartzites, limestones, gneiss.

Stelvio Bike Day[edit]

Stelvio Bike Day 2013

Each year on the last Saturday of August or first Saturday of September the Stelvio National Park administration organizes the Stelvio Bike Day. On that day the roads from Bormio and Prad to the pass, as well as the road from Santa Maria Val Müstair to the Umbrail Pass are closed to all traffic except for bicycles. On average around 12,000 cyclists participate in the Bike Day, with the majority taking the road from Prad to the pass and the descent over the Umbrail pass to Val Müstair.

Since 2017 there has also been a Stelvio Marathon for runners, from Prad to Glurns, back to Prad and thence through Stilfs (Stelvio village) to the pass. The first was held on June 17, 2017, with over 300 participants. The second was held on June 16, 2018 and the third on August 31, 2019.[14]

Appearances in Giro d'Italia (since 1953)[edit]

Year Stage Category Start Finish Leader at the summit Winner of the stage
1953 20 - Bolzano Bormio  Fausto Coppi (ITA)  Fausto Coppi (ITA)
1956 20 - Sondrio Merano  Aurelio Del Rio (ITA)  Charly Gaul (LUX)
1961 20 - Trento Bormio  Charly Gaul (LUX)  Charly Gaul (LUX)
1965 20 Cima Coppi Madesimo Passo dello Stelvio  Graziano Battistini (ITA)  Graziano Battistini (ITA)
1972 17 Cima Coppi Livigno Passo dello Stelvio  José Manuel Fuente (ESP)  José Manuel Fuente (ESP)
1975 21 Cima Coppi Alleghe Passo dello Stelvio  Francisco Galdós (ESP)  Francisco Galdós (ESP)
1980 20 Cima Coppi Cles Sondrio  Jean-René Bernaudeau (FRA)  Jean-René Bernaudeau (FRA)
1994 15 Cima Coppi Merano Aprica  Franco Vona (ITA)  Marco Pantani (ITA)
2005 14 Cima Coppi Neumarkt Livigno  José Rujano (VEN)[15]  Iván Parra (COL)
2012 20 Cima Coppi Val di Sole Passo dello Stelvio  Thomas de Gendt (BEL)  Thomas de Gendt (BEL)
2014 16 Cima Coppi Ponte di Legno Val Martello (Martelltal)  Dario Cataldo (ITA)  Nairo Quintana (COL)
2017 16 Cima Coppi Rovetta Bormio  Mikel Landa Meana (ESP)  Vincenzo Nibali  (ITA)
2020 18 Cima Coppi Pinzolo Laghi di Cancano  Rohan Dennis (AUS)  Jai Hindley (AUS)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "GeoCatalogo" (Map). Rete civica dell'Alto Adige. Bolzano, Italy: Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano - Alto Adige. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  2. ^ a b c "39 - Flüalapass" (Map). Giogo dello Stèlvio (2012 ed.). 1:100 000. National Map 1:100'000. Berne, Switzerland: Federal Office of Topography - swisstopo. 2008. Retrieved 2017-05-29 – via
  3. ^ "Monte Scorluzzo : Climbing, Hiking & Mountaineering". SummitPost. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  4. ^ "WWI Isonzo Front, the Soča Valley, Slovenia". Slovenia-Walking. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  5. ^ "The Stelvio pass". Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  6. ^ "Stelvio Pass - Webcam and info". Gestione tecnica e organizzativa AD S.R.L. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  7. ^ "Yahoo". Yahoo.
  8. ^ "Top Gear's World's Best Driving Road in detail at redlineblog – Indian Car Reviews". 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  9. ^ "3. Stelvio Pass / South Tyrol / Italy Mountain Pass Driving Route and Map in TOP 10 DRIVES Region : Driving Breaks". Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  10. ^ "Day 4 of The Great European Rally 2015 - Stelvio Pass as featured on Top Gear!". Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  11. ^ Andrew Snow (2017-10-12). "Summer Skiing at Passo dello Stelvio". Where The Snows Go. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
  12. ^ stefano ardito. Sentieri dello Stelvio.I tre versanti di un Parco. p. 6.
  13. ^ stefano ardito. Sentieri dello Stelvio I tre versanti di un Parco. p. 7.
  14. ^ "2. Stilfserjoch Marathon - Stelvio Marathon".
  15. ^ Tim Maloney (2005-05-22). "Parra does the double; Savoldelli still strong on Stelvio". Cycling News. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 2012-09-26.


External links[edit]