Location: State of Carinthia, Austria and the Province of Udine, Italy
Length: 32 km
Wide: 5 m standard, 2 lanes
Surface quality (out of 10): 9 for the Austrian side, 7 for the Italian part
Highest point: 1357 m
Operating times: throughout the year
Plöckenpass Straße B 110, Strada Statale 52bis Carnica SS 52bis
Route: Kötschach-Mauthen, Austria – Plöcken Pass – Paluzza, Italy
Plöckenpass (Italian: Passo di Monte Croce Carnico) is an international mountain pass with a height of 1357 m located in the Carnic Alps, at the border between the Austrian state of Carinthia and the province of Udine, Italy. This beautiful pass connects the town of Kötschach-Mauthen in the Carinthian Gail River valley with the village of Paluzza, in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
The Plöckenpass has a very rich history and was well known since Antiquity. Archaeological discoveries north of the Plöckenpass show that this path was already known and used by humans at least since the last ice age, through the Bronze Age and until the arrival of the Romans, when it was rebuilt and expanded by the legions under the command of General Tiberius in 15 BC in order to reach the newly conquered lands situated north of the Carnic Alps.
This well-constructed road was also used throughout the Middle Ages and remarkably, even after centuries without maintenance after the Romans retreated, it was still in good condition.
The Plöckenpass is a relatively narrow road with an average slope gradient of 4.8% and a maximum incline of 13% on some parts. Most importantly, it’s not crowded at all, no matter the season and it’s open all year round if the weather conditions allow it.
Starting from Kötschach-Mauthen at the altitude of 705 m, the drive is 32 km long and can be made in about 1 hour. Kötschach-Mauthen is a small but ancient Austrian market town and a popular climatic health resort. Here you can visit several old castles and museums or the town’s famous late gothic style church named “Gailtal Cathedral”, built in 1399.
This superb mountain road offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys from both directions, as well as lots of steep curves and spectacular hairpin bends that will make you feel you’re in the right place when it comes to driving on a great mountain road.
At the top of the Plöckenpass you will find an open-air museum with restored relics from the First World War and two small inns with restaurants where you can rest, admire the view and try some traditional Austrian and Italian food.
The drive continues south, across the border and towards the Italian town of Paluzza. Located at an altitude of 605 m, Paluzza is home to many Roman fortifications remains and to a charming alpine botanical garden, which houses representative plants found in the area.
Photos: static.panoramio.com, kaernten.at, thehighrisepages.de, kipaji.nl, deine-berge.de, wemmer.atr