Highest road crossings in Italy

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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It is an incredible emotion to reach the top of a mountain and feel the thin air at more than 2.500 meters!
Surely you have often wondered how to find the highest roads to go, perhaps near your city, to challenge yourself once again and experience that sense of freedom in the midst of nature again.
But what are the highest road passes in Italy?
First of all you have to do a distinction between pass and pass: the pass is the lowest point between two mountains which helps us to go from one side to the other of a group of mountains; when the pass is at a much higher and more difficult point, it is called the pass.

Unfortunately, for obvious reasons of constant updates and climate change, it is not possible to create an official ranking, but we will be delighted to welcome your feedback and any changes to it through your comments at the bottom of the article.

What is the highest road in Italy?

Creating a realistic ranking is quite complicated as it is each road undergoes continuous variations or atmospheric modifications, moreover, some strange ones are passable only by military vehicles, others are closed-end and still others completely impracticable.
Having said that, however, we will try to draw up a generic list of the 10 highest in Italy, also giving you some updated information on each of them.

But first we present some of the "record roads" of the beautiful country:

  • Highest pass: Chaberton, Alta Val di Susa, 3.131 mt
  • Highest passable pass: Colle del Sommeiller, Cottian Alps, 2.993 mt
  • Higher passable asphalted pass: Stelvio Pass, Rhaetian Alps, 2.758 mt
  • Asphalt road open to higher traffic: Mount Jafferau, Val di Susa, 2.805 mt
  • Asphalted road with a vehicular outlet open to higher traffic: Colle del Nivolet, Alpi Graie, 2.612 mt

And now here is the more detailed ranking of 10 highest roads in Italy, classified exclusively according to altitude from lowest to highest.

10 - Passo del Rombo, Eastern Rhaetian Alps, 2.509 m

Alpine pass located on the border between Italy and Austria, in the province of Bolzano, which connects the Val Passiria in South Tyrol with the Tyrol.
Open only in summer from 07:00 to 20:00 (night transit is forbidden): in the Italian part the transit is allowed only to motorcycles and cars, prohibited to buses and trucks.

E' one of the coldest places in the Alps, in fact it often has very strong winds, and one of the last to be passable in summer.
At the top there is a refuge, a popular destination for two-wheel enthusiasts, a stream coming from the glaciers and a museum with a rather particular architecture that represents the history of the road and the pass. It is free, but in the Austrian side there is a toll booth (€ 16,00 for cars, € 14,00 for motorcycles).

9 - Colle del Mulo, Cottian Alps, 2.527 m

Valico del Piemonte, in the province of Cuneo which connects the Vallone di Marmora with the Meja-Gardetta plateau located in the Maira Valley.
On the Marmora side, unfortunately, the passage was never completed after the Second World War and therefore is not practicable; the hill is therefore reachable only from the path, on foot or by bicycle.
It is crossed by the Sentiero delle Fortificazioni, about 60 km long: along it you can still see several fortified works, remains of barracks, bunkers and railways built in the past by soldiers.
This pass is militarily of great value as it was reached by the Strada dei Cannoni already in the mid-eighteenth century.

8 - Colle del Nivolet, Graian Alps, 2.612 mt

Alpine pass in the Graian Alps, between Valle dell'Orco (Piedmont) and Valsavarenche (Valle d'Aosta). It is located within the protected area of ​​the Gran Paradiso National Park, not far from the Italian-French border.
It is easily reachable by car in summer, while in winter and spring the roads are not cleared of snow therefore access remains difficult.
The road develops for about twenty kilometers, for a difference in height of a thousand meters and runs alongside two artificial lakes: Lake Serrù and Lake Agnel.
From a naturalistic and faunal point of view, this hill is undoubtedly the most interesting in the Aosta Valley, it is also famous for its pristine alpine lakes on the "Nivolet plateau".

7 - Gavia Pass, Southern Rhaetian Alps, 2.618 m

Alpine pass located on the south-eastern edge of the Ortler Alps, which connects the Val di Gavia and the upper Valle Camonica and marks the border between Brescia and Sondrio.
E' reachable by car along the Gavia Pass: a high-altitude panoramic road that leads from Bormio to Ponte di Legno.
During the year the turnout is quite low since the road is quite winding, narrow and almost without security at the edges: in summer it is a frequent destination for motorcyclists from every city in Europe, while from autumn until late spring the road is subject to closure and therefore it is impossible to reach it.

6 - Colle dell'Agnello, Cottian Alps, 2.744 m

Alpine pass of the Cottian Alps (Monviso Alps), located on horseback between the border between Italy and France, between Piedmont and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.
It is the second highest car crossing in Italy (that is, easily accessible by car) and for this reason it is the transit destination of many stages of the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.
Moreover it offers one of the best astrological observation sites as it has little light pollution and zero contamination.
The route is very steep and difficult, severe and desolate: it is one of the toughest alpine roads, which runs along cliffs and rock walls.
On both sides, the pace remains closed from October to May.

5 - Stelvio Pass, Rhaetian Alps, 2.758 m

E' the highest automobile Alpine crossing located between Lombardy and Trentino Alto Adige, which has always been of enormous importance for hikers, tourists, cyclists and motorcyclists. Is situated within the Ortler Alps and the Stelvio National Park and geographically divides the Western Rhaetian Alps from the Southern Rhaetian Alps.
The road is paved, dual carriageway and has 88 hairpin bends. On the Lombard side the road leads to the pass that leads to the Swiss border. All 3 sides, the Italian and the 2 Swiss, of the pass are closed from November to May.
Several start on the summit hiking trails, including the path to Cima Garibaldi and the dirt road that leads to the Pirovano refuge.

4 - Mount Jefferau, Alta Val di Susa, 2.805 mt

Military road built in Alta Val di Susa to connect the Fenil, Pramand and Jefferau forts via a carriage road, with part of it passing under Monte Seguret through the Seguret Gallery.
The road, following renovations, was classified as "trailerable for simple transit", therefore with curves with a minimum radius of 8 meters, slope at 12%, width of 3 meters, pitches every 4 km and, in some sections, the presence of docks.
With about 2.000 meters in altitude, it is one of the roads with more altitude in Italy and the second highest carriageway in Europe, although it is not everywhere in perfect condition.
From August 2019 the Seguret Gallery, after several reconstruction works, is open to the public and accessible to all.

3 - Torre del Filosofo, Sicily, 2.915 mt

Ancient refuge of Etna which rises at the base of the craters of the volcano, just over 2.900 meters above the sea level.
This refuge takes its name from its biggest fan, the philosopher Empedocles: it was built in his memory in 1960 but, unfortunately, following several eruptions of the volcano, for today nothing remains.
From Rifugio Sapienza you have to take the track for the summit craters; you go up with the cable car up to 2.500 meters, after which, through organized tours, you travel the stretch by jeep.
Experienced hikers cover the stretch on foot, but we would like to advise you anyway rely on a tour with expert guides and prepare.

2 - Colle del Sommeiller, Cottian Alps, 2.993 m

Alpine pass on the border between Italy and France, which connects the city of Bardonecchia (province of Turin) to that of Bramans (French department of Savoy).
Access from the Italian side starts from Bardonecchia with an asphalted road up to Rochemolles and then a dirt road up to the hill.
This road it is the highest in the Alps: the maximum altitude reachable by car is 2.991 meters above sea level. The most of dirt track, however, it is not easy to pass through and can only be covered entirely from May to November (except for snow).

Since 2017 the municipality has imposed a toll of € 5,00 for the passage from the refuge to the hill, from 15 July to 31 August (high season) and has closed the section to all vehicles only on Thursdays.
From the French side there are no roads open to the public to reach the hill so the only way is to go through the Italian side.

1 - Chaberton, Alta Val di Susa, 3.131 mt

Military road built in the nineteenth century. in Alta Val di Susa to give a carriage road to the Battery of Chaberton fortification.
Currently the road it is paved up to Fenils, after which it becomes a dirt road but in good conditions of practicability up to Pra Claud. From here on, it is forbidden to drive any motorized vehicle, so you can continue on foot or by bicycle (for experts only) to Grange Quagliet.
In July 2019, after a violent downpour, the road completely collapsed at the Rio dell'Inferno and is therefore forbidden to continue also to pedestrians and cyclists.
Access to the fort, however, can only be done via the path from Claviere or the via ferrata.

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