Location: Swiss-Italian border connecting Santa Maria in Switzerland with Bormio, Italy
Length: 38 km
Wide: 5 m, 2 lanes
Surface quality (out of 5): 4
Highest point: 2,501 m
Operating times: June – September
Via Umbrail, Strada Statale 38 del Passo Stelvio SS 38
Route: Santa Maria – Stelvio Pass – Bormio
Umbrail Pass (Italian: Passo dell’Umbrail, Giogo di Santa Maria) is currently the highest paved road in Switzerland and one of the highest in the Alps. Located on the Swiss-Italian border, Umbrail Pass connects the village of Santa Maria, Switzerland with the Stelvio Pass road (2.757 m) and finally with the town of Bormio in Italy.
This spectacular road was opened to traffic in 1901 yet has enjoyed considerable military and commercial success since the Middle Ages and nowadays is a popular destination for tourists, along with the Stelvio Pass road. Also, since August 2015, the road is completely paved.
From Santa Maria at 1.375 m altitude in the Mustair Valley, the road rises and becomes relatively narrow with many curves and serpentines uphill, offering a magnificent view over the Val Mustair and of the surrounding coniferous forests.
After the initial stretch, at around 2.000 m, the forest ends suddenly and one can confront the many hairpin bends that lead to its highest point, at 2.501 m. From here on you can already see the south ridge of the Stelvio Pass. After several very tight serpentines, the Swiss customs station is reached. It’s worthwhile to plan a short break along the course and admire the unforgettable views over the valley below.
Shortly after the summit, the road then leads into the Stelvio Pass that comes up from Bormio. Three buildings and a barrier gate mark the Italian border. Take a left and then after a few miles you’ll reach the Stelvio Pass summit. If you follow the road down to the right, you’ll reach Bormio.
In conclusion, the Umbrail is a beautiful pass with a steady gradient, a delightful valley in the middle and, opposite to the Stelvio Pass, it hardly sees any traffic. It is a crossing with high touristic value and a coveted destination in the summer for car enthusiasts, motorcyclist and bikers as well.
Photos: altarezia.eu, i0.wp.com, alpen-paesse.ch, tripadvisor.com, alpentourer-bilder.de, bmwmotorradclubromagna.itr/