On the go: the best alpine passes in Italy

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On the go: the best alpine passes in Italy
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On the go: the best alpine passes in Italy

On the go: the best alpine passes in Italy

On the go: the best alpine passes in Italy

On the go: the best alpine passes in Italy

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The route over the Sella Joch.

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3rd place: Passo di Gavia – The pass is an alpine pleasure trip, not too easy, but still easy to drive.

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6th place: Passo di Manghen – A pass that gets under your skin: Even if it has hardly any fast stages, the Manghen enchants with its variety and countless curves.

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9th place: Passo di Valles – the road with good grip through the Parco Naturale Paneveggio can be surfed smoothly.

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The route over the Passo di Falzarego / Valparola.

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2nd place: Sella Joch – Finely winding roads wind through one of the most magnificent landscapes in the Italian Alps.

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The route over the Passo di Gavia.

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Perfect for practicing the ideal line: the turns of the south ramp.

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The route over the Passo di Fedaia.

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The Passo di Manghen is reminiscent of a toy landscape. A nice restaurant, wood carvings, a small lake and motorbikes.

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Italy’s tour offers 30 passes, 20 of which are MOTORRAD rated to showcase the best of them.

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The route over the Passo di Valles.

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Place 8: Passo di Fedaia – The old route offers a lot of driving fun in the bends.

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Rank 10: Passo di Maniva / del Croce Domini – The Maniva offers entertainment and adventure potential.

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1st place: Passo di Giau – The ride goes smoothly over grippy, if not always perfect, asphalt.

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The route over the Passo di Manghen.

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On the way to heaven, the gate to paradise opens on the Passo di Giau.

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Not only Switzerland and Austria offer magnificent mountain passes. Italy’s Alpine region also leaves nothing to be desired. In the third part for the selection of the best alpine passes, MOTORRAD shows the top 10 in Italy.

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Popular with bikers: the Pordoi. As with Sella and Val Gardena, pure driving pleasure.

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The route over the Gardena Pass.

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5th place: Pordoi Joch – No annoying switchbacks and beautiful flowing curves.

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The route over the Pordoi Joch.

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7th place: Passo di Falzarego / Valparola – The pass offers clean asphalt, good grip, beautiful, fluid radii and few frost breaks.

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Wonderful driving fun on almost historic routes.

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The route over the Passo di Maniva / del Croce Domini.

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A driving pleasure: the 12-kilometer south ramp starting from Canazei.

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In the frenzy of the Val Gardena curves: there is hardly a more impressive combination of driving fun and enjoyment of the landscape.

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The route over the Passo di Giau.

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4th place: Grodner Joch – varied flora and fauna paired with grandiose winding roads.

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The bizarre lunar landscape at Valparola.

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The best alpine passes in Italy

In two issues of MOTORRAD we showed the ten best alpine passes in Switzerland and Austria. Here are the ten best passes in Italy.

Markus Biebricher

08/19/2010

Skiing all of Italy’s alpine passes requires more free time than most of us have. There are hundreds of them. We dug deep into the cornucopia of Italian passport treasures, examined 30 passes, rated 20 and finally selected ten that we believe offer the maximum amount of fun, adventure and experience for riders of all types of motorcycle.

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The Dolomites region with its spectacular landscapes is in the foreground. But passport jewels with the greatest appeal can also be found elsewhere. Accompany us on our pass round. As always, we value your opinion.

On the go: the best alpine passes in Italy

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On the go: the best alpine passes in Italy


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Travel time: 6 days – Distance covered: 1200 kilometers.

The ten Italian Premium Passes are within one round. This includes other passes that do not appear in the rating, but still reward a visit with intense experiences.

The route:
The entrance to our individual pass round leads via the A13 from Innsbruck to the Brenner Pass. The use of the Austrian motorways costs EUR 4.40 for ten days (price for a motorcycle vignette). The Brenner toll is eight euros. From Sterzing it is only possible to use toll-free roads, the Italian A22 is only for orientation. East of Bolzano we dive into the wonder world of the Dolomites, which is also the focus of this pass ranking. Simply because this region within the Italian Alpine region offers the most spectacular passes in terms of driving and visual experiences for the majority of motorcyclists. In addition, there are of course also beautiful pass roads to the west, east and south of the Dolomites that still belong to the Alps and should not be missed. Inspired by alpine impressions, after the descent from Passo di Manghen you can enjoy typical Italian, Mediterranean flair in the valleys, which continues over Lake Garda, Maniva, Croce Domini to Gavia. The passes in the western part of this route appear wilder and more pristine than the stately Dolomite roads, but sometimes with gravel in the curves, they require more attention. 

The review:
The points scale from one to ten represents the pass disciplines developed by us. The general driving pleasure includes an evaluation of the road surface in combination with the variety of the route, the natural and driving impression. The cornering experience is divided into fast and slow, because there are great possibilities for variation, depending on whether the respective bend allows a round stroke and a fluid driving style, is clearly visible and creates feelings of addiction in its own way. The pass height as a geographical goal of every pass is evaluated separately with regard to its quality of the break including the view. The overall experience of nature during the pass is another criterion. As in the case of Manghen, Gavia, Maniva or Croce Domini, it can dominate in such a way that even driving slowly becomes an absolute pleasure. Of course, the individual disciplines overlap, and our evaluations are subject to subjective assessments. Which means that they can be discussed.

The other passes:

The Duran ranks 11th with 31 points, 12th the Penserjoch (27), 13th the Rollepass (24), 14th the Vivione (23), 15th of the Jaufen (22) and 16th the Stilfserjoch (21). Famous in terms of landscape and road construction, its bends with poor asphalt and excessive traffic are not very enjoyable. Further pass recommendations are east of our route in Friuli: Panoramica delle Vette (1967 meters), Forcella Lavardet (1542 meters), Lanzenpass (1552 meters), Passo della Mauria (1298 meters), Sella Campigotto (1790 meters), Sella di Razzo , (1760 meters), Plockenpass (1357 meters), Nabfeldpass (1541 meters). Numerous other passes offer fun, such as the Monte Grappa in Veneto or the Colle dell’Assietta in Piedmont. They all, like the passes of the mighty Appennine Arch, deserve an extra story.

Maps / Addresses / Hotels:
MairDumont general map South Tyrol-Trentino scale 1: 200,000, addresses: www. alpen-tourer.de, the special hotel: Albergo Venturelli, Borno, (www.albergoventurelli.it)

1st place: Passo di Giau


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On the way to heaven, the gate to paradise opens on the Passo di Giau.

Length: 26 kilometers • Height: 2233 meters • Opening times: April to October • Maximum gradient: 14 percent • Tolls: none • Special features: Wonderfully winding route through high alpine landscape, grandiose 360-degree panorama


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The route over the Passo di Giau.

The hairpin bends on the south side are a dream: anyone coming from Selva di Cadore up the 29 Tornanti des Giau will not forget this experience. Maximum driving fun in tight and wider curves, a good overview, a fluid driving style, clean lines and the highest inclines are possible here. The asphalt is not perfect, but it offers grip. The higher you go, the more spectacular the views become. Make sure to stop. At the top of the pass, there is a restaurant with overnight accommodation and a grandiose 360-degree view of the mountains of the Dolomites.

The course of the pass to Cortina d’Ampezzo is not quite as spectacular, cows also cross here and the hairpin bends are more difficult to drive. Our tip: If you want to experience a really fast pass, you should definitely try the Passo Staulanza southeast of Selva di Cadore. A race track disguised as a pass with little traffic and fast, grippy corners. Pure joy!

2nd place: Sella Joch


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Finely winding roads wind through one of the most magnificent landscapes in the Italian Alps.

Length: 36 kilometers • Height: 2240 meters • Opening times: April to November • Maximum gradient: 11 percent • Toll: None • Special features: Nice mix of fast and slow curves, numerous motorcyclists, cyclists, hikers on weekends, beautiful Dolomite mountain landscapes


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The route over the Sella Joch.

In addition to the Sella pass, Val Gardena and Pordoi pass as well as the Passo Campolongo belong to the famous pass quartet of the Sella circuit. The actual ascent to the Sella Pass begins in Canazei, which is 1465 meters high, but after five kilometers it meets the road coming from the Pordoi and branches off there again. In many bends and a never-ending incline, the pass road winds up along gigantic rock faces. On the rocky pass, a spectacular panorama, mountain paths invite you to hike, a restaurant to take a break. The descent into Val Gardena has fewer bends, the asphalt is more fragile, the curve radii are less fluid.

Specialty: At the Hotel Miramonti the streets of Sella and Gardena pass come together.

3rd place: Passo di Gavia


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Perfect for practicing the ideal line: the turns of the south ramp.

Length: 42 kilometers • Height: 2652 meters • Opening times: June to October • Maximum gradient: 16 percent • Tolls: none • Special features: There is a risk of falling rocks in some sections, tunnel, extremely attractive alpine world, demanding from a driver’s point of view


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The route over the Passo di Gavia.

The hairpins of the south ramp cause many a flat country to tailspin, are sometimes difficult to see and often devoid of any guard rails – pure pass adventure that more experienced bikers can easily master. Phenomenal panoramas, wild rocky landscapes, marmots, a longer, dark tunnel up to the top of the pass. More than with other passes, you have the feeling of being completely integrated into a strange, high-alpine world. The top of the pass offers an almost unearthly panorama. No matter where you stop, the views are always goosebumps. Descent towards Bormio partly with gravel, grasslands strewn with rocks, then forest. The Gavia is wrongly in the shadow of the Stilfserjoch, it is the nicer pass.

tip: Instead of tormenting your way up the Stilfser, invest time for the Gavia: a contemplative but unforgettable experience.

4th place: Passo Gardena


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Diverse flora and fauna paired with grandiose winding roads.

Length: 37 kilometers • Height: 2121 meters • Opening times: April to November depending on the snow • Maximum gradient: 17.5 percent (in Selva) • Tolls: none • Special features: Frequent heavy traffic, gigantic Dolomite impressions


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The route over the Gardena Pass.

The Grodnerjoch, which lies between Val Gardena and Corvara, is a member of the spectacular Sella circuit. The route and the top of the pass offer the finest Alpine panoramas, including the Langkofel, the Sella massif and the Cir peaks. The curvy route guarantees maximum driving pleasure. Coming from Selva, clean, new, grippy asphalt. Descent towards Corvara Restrictions due to frost breaks, patches and tighter curves with more difficult radii. The downside: Especially on weekends, the rapid enjoyment is dampened by the heavy excursion, bus and mobile home traffic.

Our tip: For the entire Sella circuit (The Campolongo is the most unattractive pass), use the daytime edge times, in the evening the chances of alpenglow.

5th place: Pordoi Joch


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No annoying switchbacks and beautiful flowing curves.

Length: 13 kilometers • Height: 2239 meters • Opening times: April / May to November • Maximum gradient: 8 percent • Tolls: none • Special features: Great driving fun, bends offer a lot of variety, no hairpin bends, the landscape is not quite as intoxicating as Sella and Val Gardena


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The route over the Pordoi Joch.

The road leads from Arabba to Canazei. Nice flowing curves, no annoying hairpin bends, clean line selection possible, asphalt not perfect, but passable, beautiful views of the valley everywhere. A varied sequence of hairpin bends, always new, fun challenges when choosing a line or following and overtaking other motorcyclists. A lot of hype at the top of the pass, two hotels, a lot of tourism, a big biker meeting place. Those who are spoiled by the unearthly mountain landscape might miss the otherwise tangible proximity of the typical Dolomite walls. The descent is then more scenic, curves and drivability remain the best, driving fun and pass enjoyment stop, and the Pordoi gets the maximum number of points for driving pleasure. But this pass is also popular with bus companies.

Hence our tip again: Use more of the day off-peak times!

Rank 6: Passo di Manghen


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A pass that gets under your skin: Even if it has hardly any fast stages, the Manghen enchants with its variety and countless curves.

Length: 23.5 kilometers • Height: 2042 meters • Opening times: beginning of May to end of October • Maximum gradient: 12 percent • Tolls: none • Special features: Very narrow road, often the tightest hairpin bends, slow pass for motorcycle hiking


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The route over the Passo di Manghen.

The fairy-tale, that is how the 2042 meter high Passo di Manghen could be called. From Castello Molina a very narrow lane winds its way up in countless serpentines through dense coniferous forest. The area around the top of the pass that is then open again is reminiscent of a toy landscape. Nice restaurant, wood carvings, small lake, motorbikes. The descent to Roncello is a dream: the small, narrow road descends in generous serpentines into a true fairytale forest. The environment changes every 100 meters, mosses, lichens, bizarre rocks slide past, beautiful places to rest and views into the distance everywhere, the whole thing looks enchanted and unreal, but stands in charming contrast to high alpine barreness. The manghene never seems to end, it remains varied until the end, you are amazed and enjoy.

Place 7: Passo di Falzarego / Valparola


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The pass offers clean asphalt, good grip, beautiful, fluid radii and few frost breaks.

Length: 25/16 kilometers • Altitude: 2105/2192 meters • Opening times: May to early November • Maximum gradient: 11 percent • Tolls: none • Special features: First World War memorial, cable car, bizarre Dolomite landscapes


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The route over the Passo di Falzarego / Valparola.

The hairpin bends from La Villa are fun: clean asphalt, good grip, beautiful, flowing radii, little frost breakouts, with a view of the 3,077 meter high Cuntunis peak. Then transition to a fascinating, scree-like lunar landscape. Make sure to take a break and enjoy the views in the area of ​​the top of the Valparola pass. Only a few kilometers further you will reach the top of the Falzarego, which is also the most easterly high point of the “Great Dolomite Road” (Strada delle Dolomiti) is. There is a rifugio and the valley station of the cable car on the Little Lagazuoi (2778 meters) as well as a memorial for the fallen Alpini of the First World War. Next door is a small, interesting history museum. Descent towards Cortina with poor roads, frost cracks, tighter radii. Departure towards Cernadoi more exciting.

Our tip: In good weather, cable car ride to the Lagazuoi.

Rank 8: Passo di Fedaia


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The old route offers a lot of fun in the bends.

Length: 30 kilometers • Height: 2057 meters • Opening times: April to early November • Maximum gradient: 16 percent • Toll: None • Special features: Exciting views of the glacier flanks of the Marmolada group, large reservoir, historic pass road section, grandiose Sottoguda -Canyon


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The route over the Passo di Fedaia.

If you want to be close to the famous Marmolada group, you should drive the Fedaia, which connects Canazei with Caprile and already impresses with good asphalt and smooth curves on the driveway. In the upper area a few galleries, then the top of the pass with a huge reservoir and a fantastic view of the glaciated Marmolada flanks. Descent with beautiful wide, grippy hairpin bends, sections of the old route can still be seen. Finally, the bridge over the Sottoguda Gorge, formerly part of the pass road. Sottoguda is a picturesque village with picturesque wooden houses and friendly accommodations. The vertical rock walls of the Sottoguda Gorge are impressive, unfortunately it is closed from May to October.

Our tip: Explore the grandiose gorge on foot.

Rank 9: Passo di Valles


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The high-grip road through Parco Naturale Paneveggio can be surfed smoothly.

Length: 15 kilometers • Altitude: 2032 meters • Opening times: May to November • Maximum gradient: 13 percent • Special features: Excellent asphalt, driving dynamics, natural paradise


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The route over the Passo di Valles.

The Passo di Valles forms the connection from the Passo di Rolle from the Val Travignolo over to Alleghe and Agordo. On the east side you can turn to Passo di San Pellegrino. Shortly after the Lago die Paneveggio reservoir, the Valles branches off from the Passo di Rolle driveway (which you should definitely try) and lead through a wooded nature reserve. A mountain river follows the road, around every bend there are picnic opportunities with scenic views. The upper part is reminiscent of Scotland with wild, rock-strewn meadows, behind the pass the road plunges in a dozen hairpin bends into the high forest. Thanks to the good quality of asphalt and little traffic, it is possible to drive fast, watch out for hikers!

Rank 10: Passo di Maniva / Del Croce Domini


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The Maniva offers entertainment and adventure potential.

Length: 28/50 kilometers • Altitude: 1664/1895 meters • Opening times: May to October depending on snow • Maximum gradient: 12 percent • Special features: Demanding


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The route over the Passo di Maniva / del Croce Domini.

These passes represent the more adventurous Italian mountain routes. The round goes from Caffaro to the Maniva, then the mostly graveled Tre Valli high road via Gigo di Bala and Goletto delle Crocette to the Croce Domini, on over the Valle Dorizzo to Bagolino. The route is demanding, but also manageable for road machines. Driving fast is hardly possible here, but the route and the views give you goose bumps.

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