Via dei Saraceni is one of the most spectacular drives in Italy. Located in the southwestern part of the Alps, this dirt track unfolds for over 20 km, almost entirely over 2.000 meters above the sea level. Just for 4x4. It's one of the highest mountain roads in Europe.
The track, also known as Strada militare Fenil-Pramand-Föens-Jafferau and Strada militare 79, was built in 1886. It includes several hairpin and tunnels. The road gradually gains altitude, climbing up the hillside to the east-west.
The road is winding, in some places only wide enough for one vehicle, unprotected by guardrails. One of the most spectacular parts of the road is the Galleria del Seguret (also known as Galleria dei Saraceni), a long - unlit, dark, muddy tunnel. It’s 825 meters long, U-shaped, completely darkened and with deep holes filled with water. To go along is absolutely necessary to carry a powerful flashlight. As makes a turn in the mountains, the first part is completely dark, you hear only the sound of dripping water, is very impressive! The tunnel is unlit, unpaved and leaks more than you would see in a normal road tunnel as it is not lined. This leak leads to a stream of water in the tunnel that is often a few inches deep. The end never seems to appear.
This military old trail is difficult and it’s a nightmare in the wet or dark (or both). It climbs up several mountain passes: Colletto Pramand (2.087m above the sea level); Monte Jafferau (2.805 m above sea level) and Monte Seguret (2,204m above the sea level). It’s open from May to October. Up to Forte Foens you find one short rocky section that requires some experience or good paddling.
The road follows a route among several forts. The slope of the road is less than 12%, and the width is around 3 meters. There are some fairly rocky sections, not hard but difficult in most cars. If the weather was bad, you would not consider it. The road allowed to exceed a height of 825 meters, from the lower valley up to the summit of Mount Jafferau. A point very impressive is characterized by the short Galleria Chanteloube. Completely built in concrete and beautiful cut stone, the roof of the tunnel, when the snow melts, it becomes a beautiful waterfall for the Rio Chanteloube (1910 m).
Due its unique location and the climb in elevation over thousands of feet, and passing through remote areas, it is important when driving in these conditions to be prepared. The road is passable by off-road vehicles, transit is allowed. Inside the long tunnel of Mount Seguret, there is no lighting and there are holes full of water, so for those facing the bike or on horseback, it is better to be equipped with powerful torches. It is essential to take a good supply of water, especially during the summer, natural sources are completely dry. After rain, even a single rainfall, conditions of the road can be challenging. Thunderstorm activity can quickly change unpaved roads to four-wheel-drive condition or make them impassable. The trail is prone to rockfalls, so can be tricky in places.