Location: Italy, Europe
Length: 23.2 km
Wide: 5 m standard 2 lanes
Highest point: 1930 m
Operating times: all year
Road No. SS301
In Italy, in Lombardia region, in the Alps, there is a breathtaking road that goes up to a small world suspended named Passo Torri di Fraele (Passo delle Scale). This mountain pass is located at an elevation of 1941m above sea level in the municipality of Valdidentro Sondrio.
You can reach this pass starting from Bormio city on Strada Statale SS301 heading to Premadio and, then, go up on Via Cancano. The road is completely paved since 2010 and has a lot of hairpin turns. It is a difficult road for your car or motorcycle, especially in the wet or dark.
From Premadio to Lake Cancano
It starts immediately uphill towards Passo Stelvio where the third curve takes the turnoff to Livigno. After a short stretch with small ups and downs, at the end of a straight run in Fior d’Alpe (immediately after Premadio) you turn right into a steep ramp and follow the signs for Cancano. The ascent becomes a regular right away.
Then it begins the actual ascend, with a series of hairpin bends where your car gains altitude and you can notice a wonderful landscape of Valdidentro. The road goes through a long regular sideways until a pitch for picnics, where the gradient fades. From there you have a wonderful view of the Towers of Fraele – defensive military outpost of Bormio.
On the last section you’ll make 17 turns, then go beyond two small tunnels carved into the edge of the mountain, then you will arrive at the foot of the ancient Towers of Fraele.
You’ll enjoy the magnificent view and then continue towards Scale and Cancano Lakes. The two lakes are separated by a massive dam that can be driven across.
The Towers of Fraele
The ancient Fraele towers (1930 m) were part of the system of fortifications built to protect the area from the frequent invasions. They were at that time the most advanced outpost of bormine defenses and were constantly patrolled by guards who also took care of the safety of travelers crossing the Via Imperiale d’Alemagna.
The road that goes to the towers was once known as the “salt and wine route” and connected Valtellina with Switzerland. “12 pence for each load transported”- this was the sum that had to be paid to access the Fraele Valley.
As well as a control function, the towers, thanks to their strategic position made it possible to send messages in case of danger using the smoky signals by day and lights by night.
Scale and Cancano Lakes
These two lakes are an impressive work of engineering and you can drive across the massive dam that is between.
“Another world that died drowned!” wrote the poet Giulio Pedranzini Bormio at the time the Fraele Valley was “invaded” by 187.1 million m2 of water.
The construction of the first dam – Cancano I – dates back to 1922. The second dam, Cancano II was finished in 1956.
The landscape is amazing, the lakes are placed in a beautiful plateau in an environment almost unreal.