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Old 23rd June 2014, 16:32   #1
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Default To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

Finally, about 7 years after seeing Stelvio Pass on Top Gear (Season 10, episode 1) we (Wife and I) made it there!

Not much elaborate planning went in, which probably leads to the forgetting of my DSLR before going for the trip!
But, nevertheless, the Nexus 5's camera + wife's patience made it possible to capture some memories. Needless to say, it is impossible to do justice to the location in any remote sense. Since, its not only the sights, but also the sounds of roaring Porsches, BMW motorbikes and Harleys that add awesomeness to the Stelvio Pass.

The trip started from Stuttgart in Germany (where I'm temporarily located (lucky short onsite)). Click here for the route taken.

The drive was spread over 4 days to not tax myself. I hate driving on Autobahns since they are simply too boring. Maybe if you are able to drive at 250kmph in an Italian exotic, it may be different! But, how fast would you go, and for how long, on straight roads with virtually no speed limit!?

So, I took the non-motorway and reached Neuchwanstein castle and then stopped for the night at Nassereith in Austria. Nassereith is a very beautiful village amidst the Austrian alps.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140619_160003.jpg
Pic of Neuchwanstein Castle
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140619_190148.jpg
Pic of a lake in Nassereith
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140619_202608.jpg
Pic of another lake in Nassereith

Next day we proceeded towards Innsbruck to go to Brenner Pass, which is the border between Austria and Italy. Again, no motorways.
Except Germany, you have to pay toll to use the Autobahn (Motorways). And, tricky part is that in Austria and the Swiss you are expected to buy the 'pass' from any petrol station and stick it on your wind-shield. If you venture into the Austrian and Swiss motorways without these stickers, you will be liable to pay hefty fines. In Italy, toll is collected on the highways, like our NH toll booths.
I do not recommend motorways because you will miss most of the scenery, although you will reach earlier.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_133423.jpg
A huge Motorway bridge that bypasses everything!
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_140341.jpg
You will miss the countryside if you take the motorway.

From Innsbruck, you head towards Italy and cross the Brenner Pass.
It is kind of insignificant if do not get stuck in traffic! (no good views here)
Luckily, in my case, the traffic was in the opposite direction!

Then the climb starts towards Jaufen Pass starts after this.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_141550.jpg

Jaufen pass summit.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_132439.jpg

The snow capped mountains are seen on the other side of Jaufen pass.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_143136.jpg

The road then gets down to a town called Merano and then heads towards Stelvio Pass. The climb is significant! You start seeing snow capped apls soon enough.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_171928.jpg
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_172652.jpg
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_172845.jpg

And behold, the view of first glimpse of Stelvio!
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_173526.jpg

Top Gear did the climb from the other side. I think both sides are equally spectacular as you will see from the pictures!

We stopped over for the night at a Hotel just from this view!
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140620_185537.jpg
The hotel is a 3 star hotel, well worth the money spent! Cost includes a 4 course dinner and breakfast and a pool with a view of Stelvio!
Franzenshöhe Berghotel. Cost 62 EUR for the night per person.

I would totally recommend a stay here because of the proximity to the Stelvio pass.
Stelvio Pass is among the highest in this region. Hence, it opens late in the summer and closes earliest! Normally its open between beginning of June to end of September only. Link here gives its status. And, it is visited by many motorists and cyclists. There are many rallies as well. On the day we went up the Stelvio, there was a Tractor rally! (They have a max speed of 30kmph!) So, it wouldn't be wise to be behind such slow movers. Hence, if you stay here, you have already climbed halfway. So, you just need to leave early the next day for a traffic free drive to the top.

Next morning, this clear sky view greeted us.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140621_075733.jpg

And, you head to the top. Incredibly steep and totally fun to drive!
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140621_084121.jpg

And, then, view from the top!
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140621_085240.jpg

More snow on the other side of Stelvio pass.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140621_091931.jpg
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140621_095743.jpg
How these guys ride cycles to the top, I will never know!!


Then, we headed towards Bormio.
And, this is the multi-million dollar view welcomes the racer in you!
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140621_100227.jpg
See the full resolution to see the hairpins and the tunnels as the road climbs down the hill.

I can't express in words how amazing this location is to drive!! Great views and amazing roads!

We took a detour before Bormio to Livigno to head towards Pontresina.

A word about the machine that made it possible. A diesel Audi A3 Quattro, rented from EuropCar with manual 6 speed gear box.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140621_092231.jpg

Only "problem" I had with this is the tubro lag during the hairpin bends. Every time I shift down, the rpm goes below the turbo kick in and causes loss of power. So, one has to work hard to get the speed up and keep it there!

Another recommendation whilst in Italy is the capuchino. Very tasty!
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-img_20140621_114903.jpg

Finally I signoff with a map of the Apls area marked where you will find Jaufen Pass, Stelvio Pass, Forfcola Pass, Bernina Pass and Fluela Pass from right to left.
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-maps.png

Stelvio is the most spectacular. Maybe it would be a nice build up if you follow the reverse route. Either way, a trip to Stelvio is amazing!

Last edited by Aditya : 23rd June 2014 at 19:32. Reason: Removing duplicate picture
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Old 23rd June 2014, 16:36   #2
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Default re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

This is just mind numbing!!!
Its like meeting Arnold out of T2, no? This road is a star!
Thanks for the pictures!!
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Old 23rd June 2014, 16:40   #3
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Default re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

Thanks for sharing it lambdaplus; Stelvio Pass is indeed wow! I never watched that TG episode you mentioned but I do have couple of videos done by Autocar & Evo on this pass.

Hoping to visit the place sometime soon, time permitting. You should have got yourself a nice little RWD saloon from Merc or Beemer to enjoy it even more than what you did in that A3. Loved the pics as well , thanks again for sharing.
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Old 23rd June 2014, 17:56   #4
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Default re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

Is the Team-BHP sticker still there?
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Old 23rd June 2014, 18:43   #5
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Default re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

Fantastic write-up and great photos! Stelvio is in my list too !!
Drive Safe.
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Old 23rd June 2014, 18:50   #6
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Default re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

Thanks a lot guys

@mayankk: haha! Can't be more easily put! Arnold from T2 indeed!!

@Ace_F355: Some rule EuropCar guys have for insurance whilst driving in Italy. This was the max category of vehicle I could rent when Italy was on the list!

@tsk1979: T-BHP Sticker? where!?
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Old 23rd June 2014, 22:45   #7
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Default re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lambdaplus View Post
Finally, about 7 years after seeing Stelvio Pass on Top Gear (Season 10, episode 1)....

....Stelvio is the most spectacular. Maybe it would be a nice build up if you follow the reverse route. Either way, a trip to Stelvio is amazing!
Thanks for the pix and this thread. I have planned my Swiss vacation starting the coming weekend. Much like you, I have been enamoured by the beauty of Stelvio Pass thanks to Top Gear.

I will be driving from Davos, CH to Venice, IT via Stelvio Pass. Will share pix when I get back.

Will check the Hotel you recommended for availability.

Thanks again.
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Old 24th June 2014, 06:33   #8
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Default re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

Awesome pics and excellent write up , thanks for sharing lambdaplus , I have always believed that the country roads are worth exploring in Europe rather than motorways if you have the time on your side , did a trip to Ben Nevis range in Scottish highlands from London entirely through non motorways last year , it holds some beautiful memories and your write up just flashed everything back , thank you again for sharing such delightful pics.
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Old 24th June 2014, 11:04   #9
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Default re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

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@tsk1979: T-BHP Sticker? where!?
When we went to Europe, we put team-bhp stickers on the passes
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Old 24th June 2014, 12:42   #10
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Default re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

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When we went to Europe, we put team-bhp stickers on the passes
Oh Really? It looked like Photoshop work to me. When was this trip? And are you allowed to put stickers on such boards?
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Old 24th June 2014, 12:44   #11
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Oh Really? It looked like Photoshop work to me. When was this trip? And are you allowed to put stickers on such boards?
Look at the boards. Its full of stickers. Its a sort of touring custom.
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Old 24th June 2014, 18:07   #12
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Default Re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

Hi Lambdaplus,

Interesting journey you have had. Good adventure.

I have recently moved to Holland and I had been to that area of Switzerland (savognin/st moritz) last year, haven't put any travelogue, been too lazy. Wanted to put it out though. But i didnt think of this, looks like i'd have to plan for another journey based on your route map itself, Though i dont have any spirited drive like you have or what is suggested as an RWD..

Last edited by GTO : 25th June 2014 at 12:31. Reason: No SMS language please
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Old 25th June 2014, 13:25   #13
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Default Re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

@tsk1979: I din't see a blue board on the Stelvio pass... only a white one, that too was quite small and burried behind the souvenir shops!
To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!-stelvio_board.jpg

@prashant_dv: Yes, you need to re-visit this place again

All T-Bhpians staying\living in Europe should visit the following:
Highest paved roads in Europe
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Old 25th June 2014, 14:22   #14
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Default Re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

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@prashant_dv: Yes, you need to re-visit this place again

All T-Bhpians staying\living in Europe should visit the following:
Highest paved roads in Europe
Hi lambdaplus,

Definitely, I will use the map you have posted as a starter for planning this trip. The only consideration is that I need to have at least 5 days, probably including weekend, to do this trip at leisure and not hurrying things at locations worth the time.

From your map, first leg of my journey would be to Stuttgart which is approximately 600+ kms or directly to Innsbruck which is 900+ kms from Amsterdam. Though the autobahns would normally allow good speeds and these can be covered easily, I did notice that there is a lot of construction on the highway these days and may actually take more time with slow downs in between. Anyway those are things which would change often and probably by the time I plan many of those would already be done.

Thanks for starting this up in me , wanted to visit Austria for some time, never bothered to pick it up seriously.

Regards,
Prashant
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Old 25th June 2014, 14:54   #15
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Default Re: To Stelvio Pass (Italy) in an Audi A3 Quattro!

Wow !!!
Wonderful pictures for sure. And by the look of it, this one would have been an amazing drive. I agree with you that the Autbahn is a joy kill, unless you have a Lambo or a Porsche to test the limits of these vehicles.

You would have been gutted to have left your DSLR behind though. How far were you in the trip when you realized that the camera is missing. I for one would have driven back had it been a matter of a few miles.

Hope you had fun though.
Cheers
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