Colle del Nivolet is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.641m (8,665 ft) above the sea level, located in the Eastern group of the Graian Alps in Italy. The pass is traversed by the road SP50. It is the road featured in several scenes of The Italian Job, the final bus crash scene probably being the most famous. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Italy.
The pass is situated between the Aosta Valley and the Piemont region, in the heart of the Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso. The road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. To reach the summit, starting from Locana, the ascent is 40.5 km long with an elevation gain of 1.907 meters. The average percentage is 4.7 %. On the road to the pass there’s a tunnel, which is one of the steepest tunnels in the Alps with gradients of around 12-14%.The road looks even more incredible when you have it all in front of you. It is one of those roads you really wish you would at least once in your lifetime.
The drive is definitely worth it. The SP460 starts climbing out of Pont Canavese, a town in North-West Italy. The road follows the Orco valley, briefly famous for gold panning, to Locana where the climbing proper begins. Through Noasca and there are three numbered hairpin bends which feel hard but are pleasant compared to the 3.5km long tunnel, it is lit and wide but steep. Past Ceresole Reale and its lake the road continues up the valley and becomes the SP50. It continues up to the pass with a total of 33 hairpin bends. Once you reach higher altitudes the views become more breathtaking, and the road starts to feel more dangerous not only because the narrow width, but also because of the absence of any safety barriers.
Do not travel this pass in severe weather conditions. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards, and driving under these conditions, can be extremely challenging. Colle del Nivolet is closed between 15th October and 15th May. There is also a driving ban on the last six kilometres of the road for all private motor vehicles on Sundays and public holidays between 10th July to 28th August.
The road to the summit was built between 1953 and 1963 to service the two hydroelectric dams up high. The approach road from Lago Agnel was the location of several scenes in the film The Italian Job, including the iconic final bus crash. It’s a ribbon of tarmac that winds its way up into the Alps and is also famous for the well known cliffhanger scene in the film. There are 3 lartificial lakes located immediately below the pass: Lago Serrú, Lago Agnel and Lago di Ceresole. The steepest part of the climb is some great hairpins below the two dams. The road is thrilling, breathtaking, dangerous, and one of a kind. It is narrow and on a busy day you can forget about going fast in a car, because there are too many blind corners to watch out for.
Beyond the pass, the paved road descends for a couple of kilometres, and approx. 1.6 km north of Colle del Nivolet, at an elevation of 2.532m above the sea level, the road ends. It’s asphalted and there’s a barrier. There are a couple of more lakes and a little restaurant – it’s just over the Piemonte / Aosta border. After the barrier, the road becomes a rough track only suitable for mountain bikes and dedicated off-road vehicles. This track is 4.8 km long and ends at an elevation of 2.415m above the sea level.