Strada dei Crozi: An Old Road Carved into the Rock in Trento

Strada dei Crozi is a dangerous and narrow mountain road located in the Trentino–Alto Adige region of northern Italy. In 1972, the road was closed to vehicles but reopened again for a brief period (2020-2022).

Strada dei Crozi

How Long is the Vecchia Strada dei Crozi?

Located to the east of Trento, the road was part of Strada Statale 47. It’s entirely paved but dug into the rock, with very narrow parts. It’s 1.8 km (1.11 miles) long. In 1972, the road was bypassed by a viaduct over the Fersina stream due to its dangerousness.

An Imperial Work to Build the Strada dei Crozi

The 19th-century construction of the Strada dei Crozi was part of a large investment by the Austro-Hungarian Empire aimed at improving the road network in Tyrol. Economic and military reasons were behind it. The starting point was the signature of Emperor Franz Joseph on March 1, 1842, under a "sovereign resolution," approving the construction of new roads in the Tyrolean territories, including South Tyrol, i.e., Trentino. Large-scale projects, one might say today, and significant investment. Who paid for it? The subjects, naturally, because that "sovereign resolution" included a ten-year extension of the wheat tax, the proceeds of which were reserved for improving the road network. A general project of works had already been prepared in 1837 by the Innsbruck Diet, to which Benedetto Giovannelli, the mayor of Trento, had contributed ideas for Trento and South Tyrol.

Major 19th-century Works in Northern Italy

The extensive investment, also supported by contributions from municipalities, lasted 12 years, from 1843 to 1855. During this period, concerning the Trento area, the Brennero road was built on an embankment a couple of meters higher than the countryside. The path of Bus de Vela was created, first traversed by an impassable trail, then reaching Sarche in 1848. To the south, the "Strada Erariale" between Trento and Ala was rectified and secured against floods. Finally, the "Strada dei Crozi," intended as a connection between Trento and Valsugana, started at Torre dell'Aquila square, where Via Venezia begins. It was also built between 1844 and 1850.

Six Years of Excavation to Build the Strada dei Crozi

Started in 1844, rock excavation was completed in 1850 with the hard work of miners, who also drilled holes in the rock and then filled them with black powder to explode them. With these methods, work progressed on average 70-80 centimeters per day. The result was a particularly daring and suggestive road that replaced the millennial route to Valsugana traced on the Roman road between Civezzano and Cognola, concluding at Port'Aquila through the Cervara area.

The Arrival of the Viaduct and the End of the Strada dei Crozi

A century later, in the mid-twentieth century, the strong growth of heavy traffic increased the danger of the "Strada dei Crozi," which had become particularly narrow due to the increased size of vehicles. It is worth mentioning that tanker trucks loaded with gasoline from the Marghera refinery passed through Valsugana. To make traffic smoother and less dangerous, the viaduct ascending from the riverbed and the tunnel were built, opened in November 1972, now used for traffic towards Pergine. Since 1972, the "Strada dei Crozi" has been closed, and all traffic then passed in both directions through the tunnel and on the viaduct. In December 1997, the second tunnel was opened, which has since accommodated traffic towards Trento. Ten years later, in July 2007, the tunnel under Martignano, which connects the "Crozi" with the Adige Valley in both directions, became passable.

Is Strada dei Crozi in use yet?

In 2020 and for a couple of years, the road was temporarily open to traffic during maintenance on the Viaduct dei Crozi. Currently, it is closed to private vehicles, but there are plans for the construction of a cycle path. The old road is occasionally used for short periods when maintenance works on the viaduct are underway.