Torri di Fraele: fantastically twisty road in Italy
Torri di Fraele is a fortress at an elevation of 1.992m (6,535ft) above the sea level, located in the province of Sondrio is in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. 18 harpin turns lead to the Fraele towers, which once were used as strategic point of communication.
Can you drive to Torri di Fraele?
Tucked away within the Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio, east of the Swiss border, the road to the fortress, built between 1926 and 1927, is certainly breathtaking. Located a few kilometers west to the town of Bormio, it is a winding and curvy mountain road. Slowly, the road, fully paved to the top since 2010, takes the driver up countless hairpins to the fortress. On the last section you’ll have to face 18 haipin turns, running through two short unlit tunnels carved into the edge of the mountain, at the foot of the ancient Towers of Fraele. The towers were part of the system of fortifications built to protect the area from the frequent invasions. First built in 1391, they were fortified in the 15th century and mainly destroyed in 1513 when the Grisons invaded. There was apparently some fighting here and below the cliff is called “Burrone dei Morti” – ravine of the dead. The road to Torri di Fraele, or the Mini Stelvio as it is also known, is another absolute masterpiece of Italian construction-art. This road is very ancient and once was known as the "salt & wine route" connecting Valtellina with Switzerland. Immediately after the towers, two artificial lakes are used for the production of electricity: Lago di Cancano and Lago di San Giacomo. Both lakes are separated by a massive dam that can be driven across. The last 1.6km is gravel but navigable by all passenger vehicles. The road to the lakes is closed to motorized traffic during the holiday months of July and August. The road ends at Passo di Fraele.
How long is the road to Torri di Fraele?
Starting at Turri Piano (crossroad SS301), the road to the summit is 8.38km (5.20 miles) long. The road itself is narrow, but not as cliffy as others in the area. The road has been featured in the Giro d’Italia race. The drive is pretty steep. The elevation gain is 600 meters. The average percentage is 7.1 % with some sections up to 12%.
Is the road to Torri di Fraele worth it?
Set high in the Alps, the road is very scenic. Plan about 25 minutes to complete the drive without any stop. The towers of Fraele are impressive from below and the dams with the mountainsides surrounding them are also very impressive. If you stand in front of the towers, you have a great view not only of the landscape, but also of the entire road. It’s a must-visit climb for anyone staying in Bormio after climbing Stelvio and Gavia.