Experience 4: Driving Europe’s wiggliest road
by Oliver Smith
Few roads can arrange a reunion with your breakfast quite like the road we travelled today – the Stelvio Pass.
It’s Europe’s twistiest road and it’s also one of the continent’s highest – swerving and slaloming over the crest of Alps on the border of Switzerland and Italy. Look at it on the map, and it’s a cluster of wiggles about the length of your finger. Straighten those wiggles out, however, and they’ll probably span the length of your arm.
For driving enthusiasts, it’s the closest tarmac can take you to heaven – quite literally. It’s a road that will take your car to the altitude of a light aircraft, a road that makes your ears pop. You get to soar above the clouds amid glorious blue skies, smug in the knowledge that everyone in the valley below is getting rained on.
But for anyone who gets car sick (like me), it’s a fairly testing trip. There are hairpin bends that rattle your internal organs about like a pair of maracas, sending you lurching one way and then the other, meaning everything that isn’t fastened down might go flying in your face – cameras, roadmaps, biscuits…
Luckily, I was spared some of the most fearsome wiggles of the Stelvio Pass. We got to the top only to find the pass was shut on the other side because of snowdrifts. It did mean we had to make a 200-mile detour, but I was secretly rather pleased.