Location: Province of Bolzano – South Tyrol, Italy
Length: 65.5 km
Built: 1936 – 1938
Wide: 5 m standard, 2 lanes
Surface quality (out of 5): 4
Highest point: 2.211 m
Operating times: early June – November
Strada Statale 508 (SS 508)
Route: Bolzano – Penser Joch – Vipiteno
The Pennes Pass (Italian: Passo di Pennes, German: Penser Joch) is a high mountain pass with an altitude of 2.211 m located in the Eastern Rhaetian Alps of northern Italy, South Tyrol Province. It connects Bolzano with Sterzing (Vipiteno) through the Val di Pennes and the Sarentino Valley and is the most direct road between the cities of Innsbruck and Bolzano.
Passo di Pennes is usually open between early June and November but can be closed even in the summer months, in case of snow falls or bad weather conditions. The road is well developed, although ratter narrow on some areas and offers breathtaking views over the surrounding mountains.
The road to the pass is called Strada Statale 508 (SS 508) and will surprise you right from the beginning: just in front of Bolzano it runs into a strikingly narrow ravine and continues, going through innumerable hairpin bends and curves, as well as spectacular rock tunnels, digged into the steep and dangerous cliffs of the Alps. This picturesque country road follows the Talvera River through the impressive rocky landscape, passing high alpine pastures and small, remote villages.
Starting from the ancient town of Bolzano, the capital of the province of South Tyrol and by far its largest city, the ascent is 49 km long and has a maximum gradient of 13%. After driving only a few kilometers, you will pass the impressive Runkelstein Castle. A medieval fortification dating back to the 13th century, the castle is famous for enclosing one of the largest cycles of secular medieval frescoes illustrating authentic knight sagas, literature and hunting scenes, as well as displaying objects from the armoury.
Once the summit is reached at an altitude of 2.211 m, you can take a break and admire the stunning Eisacktal and Pensertal valleys below and be dazzled by the surrounding mountain landscape. Here you will also find a small country guesthouse with a very nice restaurant, offering to visitors local specialities.
Lastly, the route continues North to Sterzing, a very old Roman settlement tracing its roots to the 1st century BC. Outside the city you will find the Reifenstein Castle, one of the best preserved medieval castles in the South Tyrol Province. From here you can choose to continue the journey either towards the famous Jaufenpass or to the Brennero Pass.
Photos: freevax.it, i.ytimg.com, farm8.staticflickr.com, c1.staticflickr.com, wikimedia.org, hartmutobermann.de, rennrad-news.de, penserjoch.com, 3.bp.blogspot.comr/