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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 21 October, 2019

Is this the best driving road in the world?

This week’s Road Trip focuses on the Stelvio Pass in Italy.

Source: Google Maps

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ONE OF THE hallmarks of a great road trip is a great driving road and the road that time and time again is labelled the ‘greatest driving road in the world’ is the Stelvio Pass.

Where: Italy
Route: Prato Allo Stelvio to Passo dello Stelvio Ghiacciaio, Bormio
Distance: 25km
Altitude: 2,757 metres (9,045 feet)

Source: Shutterstock/Yuri Turkov

The Stelvio Pass is in northern Italy near the border with Switzerland. At 2,757 metres (9,045 feet) above the sea-level, it is the second highest paved mountain pass in the Alps (the Col de la Bonette in France is the highest at 2,802 metres (9,193 feet).

Source: Shutterstock/ptnphoto

If you tackle this road from Prato on the northern side, there 48 switchbacks packed into just 24.3km of road with each hairpin turn marked by a stone on the road. On this side of the pass, the elevation gain is 1,808 meters with an average gradient percentage of about 7.4%.

Source: Shutterstock/ (Richard Semik)

If you approach the pass from the southern side, the road snakes its way for 21.5km up the deep Braulio ravine. On this side of the pass, the elevation gain is 1,533 metres with an average gradient percentage of about 7.1%.

Source: Shutterstock/Goran Bogicevic

This challenging road has become a rite of passage for driving enthusiasts and thrill-seeking motorcyclists. It is also extremely popular with cyclists, too and every August the road is closed to motorised vehicles so that bikers and walkers can enjoy this scenic cycle without having to worry about oncoming or overtaking traffic. This year the road is closed on 27 August.

Source: Shutterstock/dolomite-summits

The road is stunning, as are the views from it. It really is a marvel of engineering and has changed little since it was first opened in the 1820s. It has also been labelled the world’s most dangerous road and the world’s scariest road by those who have travelled on it.

Source: Shutterstock/ptnphoto

Back in 2007, the Top Gear trio declared it the ‘greatest driving road in the World’ but they had only conducted their search in Europe. Then in 2009 they snatched the crown off the Stelvio Pass and handed it to the Transfăgărășan Highway in Romania. I wonder if they will find an even better road when they hit our screens again.

Source: Shutterstock/LianeM

Have you driven the Stelvio Pass? Do you think it is the greatest driving road in the world? Is there a road that you think should be crowned King of the Roads? Let us know.

READ: My best road trip - Kenmare, Killarney, West Cork>

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About the author:

Melanie May  /

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