If you are going to commit to one big trip it should be memorable. And if there’s one thing Stelvio is, it’s memorable.
Stelvio is a bit of a legend in biketouring circles. From Bormio in the south to Prato allo Stelvio in the north, the SS38 runs for more or less 30 miles over the 2757m Stelvio Pass. It’s Italy’s highest pass – the second highest in the Alps – but it’s not the elevation that makes it famous. It’s the corners. That 30 miles of road includes 75 hairpins, 48 on the northern slope, with 14 packed into the two miles approaching the summit, as tight as the rungs of a ladder.
It’s a demanding road. That many tight, steep hairpins tests your skill like no other. It’s easy to ride one hairpin tidily. Stringing a couple together isn’t that hard. But 75? That’s tough.
The whole road is one hell of a ride – and the scenery is spectacular.
There are plenty of hairpins to practise on before reaching the tight final run up to the summit – which is easier as a climb than a descent.
The summit is always busy: there’s a cluster of shops selling souvenirs, cafés and sausage stands, as well as a couple of hotels. It’s worth climbing higher to the Tibet restaurant, which has the best views of the pass.
The southern slope is more flowing, though no less challenging in places. It has its own steep run of hairpins, linking broad traverses of the gravelly slopes. And when you get there, you know it was worth all the effort, all the planning it took to get there. The Stelvio will be one of the most memorable roads you’ll ever ride.
Experience hairpins as tight as the rungs on a ladder