Timmelsjoch and Stelvio Pass

Today was just to be ‘driving back home’ and to mix things up a bit & avoid the terrible Brenner highway, I had mapped out a route going through the mountains at the end of the Ötztal over the Timmelsjoch (pass) which is 2509m at it’s highest point.

Beautiful scenery left and right and a fun drive, once we reached Südtirol, we had orchards full of apples and peaches next to us.

What I had NOT planned was crossing a much more crazy pass, the Stilfserjoch (or Passo Stelvio in Italian) which climbs up to 2760m with 48 hairpin turns on the north side and 40 on the south side.

(There are quite some videos of the drive up and down on youtube: like this, this or this.)

The drive is a bit nerve wracking as you encounter 3 ‘enemies’: the bicyclists who one has to pass, the bikers that keep passing you (especially just after a turn) and the occasional camper van that needs to do a broken K turn in some of the curves.

Once we reached the top we thought we were at fairground or a motorcycle sales show.

It was crazy crowded, a handful of shops selling localized souvenirs and 2 restaurants. We selected a pizza place with a very nice view (and so so food)

The way down on the south side is a bit more relaxed, until you get to some short tunnels (200m long) which are too narrow to fit 2 cars next to each other and there is NO kind of traffic regulation (a traffic light would help here). So, of course, we got stuck with 2 other cars in front of us and we all had to get back out in reverse.

Overall we were on the road for about 9 hours (incl. rest stops), but it was more fun than being stuck in that huge traffic jam they reported about on the radio. We stopped for the night at a very nice hotel close to Milan (free upgrade to suite, sweet!) and had a decent, but overpriced dinner.

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