Panoramica delle Vette is one of the most spectacular roads in the world. This high mountain loop road reaches an elevation of 1.982m (6,502ft) above the sea level (Monte Crostis) and is located in the province of Udine in the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The road is mostly paved but there are some gravel sections.
This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. The loop route was built between 1940 and 1942 and is 33,4 km (20,8 mi) long. The inclination is usually somewhere between 12-18% and there is no flat stretch. The average is around 11% for the 1,400 meters of height, climbing several mountain passes, including the challenging Monte Crostis.
It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. It still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. The track and the route start in Ravascletto (952 m above sea level), a well known summer/winter holiday resort, one of the most important ski centres in Friuli Venezia Giulia. From Ravascletto you reach Cervicento and then you go on towards the road for Mount Tenchia, another fascinating and magic place, where the big "Pian delle streghe" ("Witches' Plain") widely extends. It is said that this was the meeting point of the blond German witches who, dressed in white and red, used to reaching Carnia every Thursday, where they met with the local elfs, witches and other damned souls.
This road tests the skill, and courage, of any driver. It’s definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of landslides. Along the whole route you can admire the breathtaking landscape of the Valley; then you cross the Tarond and Crasulina small lakes, two sheets of water full of mountain flora and fauna, from where you reach Zoufplan mountain barn and Casera Crostis.
There is little room for error on this road. In many places the road is bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails. After some long switchbacks in the open, the pavement ends abruptly at 1870 meters. The highest point of this road is 1989m above sea level. Then you go on till Tualis, a spectacular place for its landscape. And the trip finishes going back to Ravascletto. The whole road is a round trip of 33,4 km (20,8mi) and takes 45 minutes to complete it. Over the whole drive there’s no roof, no place to hide, when a storm hits the exposed place. In some turns use your horn and listen. It can save your life.
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. The road is pretty steep, with some sections up to 20%.