Torri di Fraele is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.941m (6,368ft) above the sea level, located in the municipality of Valdidentro Sondrio, in Lombardy (Italy) and belongs to the Alps. The 18 harpin turns leads to the Fraele towers, which once were used as strategic point of communication.
The road is certainly breathtaking. A few kilometers west of the town of Bormio, this winding steep road leads up from Premadio up to the pass. Slowly, the road, fully paved to the top since 2010, takes the driver up countless hairpins to the summit. Before reaching the pass, the road takes you through two short tunnels carved into the edge of the mountain.
The road is asphalted. The journey offers superb views. It’s definitely worth it. A drive not to be missed! On the last section you’ll make 18 haipin turns, then go beyond two small tunnels carved into the edge of the mountain, then you will arrive at the foot of the ancient Towers of Fraele. Don't forget your camera with lots of film/memory, fully charged batteries and an empty memory card! The ancient Fraele towers were part of the system of fortifications built to protect the area from the frequent invasions. Around the summit there are the ruins of two old square towers first built in 1391. They were fortified in the 15th century then 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.
There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy. The road itself is narrow, but not as cliffy as others in the area. The road to the Passo Torri di Fraele, or the Mini Stelvio as it is also known, is another absolute masterpiece of Italian construction-art. This route is not recommended if your passengers are prone to car sickness. The towers of Fraele are impressive from below and the dams with the mountainsides surrounding them are also very impressive. A quick glance at the map at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns, confirms that this is no hype. It’s a must-visit climb for anyone staying in Bormio after climbing Stelvio and Gavia.
The road is difficult and it’s a nightmare in the wet or dark (or both). This road is very ancient and once was known as the "salt & wine route" and connected Valtellina with Switzerland. Immediately after the tower two artificial lakes are used for the production of electricity. The road after the pass continues, to Lago di Cancano and Lago di San Giacomo. The two lakes are separated by a massive dam that can be driven across, and the road finishes here, in the Refugio Val Fraele, at an elevation of 1.941masl. The last 1.6km is gravel. This is a maintained road where a high clearance 2WD vehicle is able to travel safely.
The pass has been climbed by the Giro d’Italia race. Starting from Turri Piano (crossroad SS301), the ascent is 8.38 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 600 meters. The average percentage is 7.1 % with some sections up to 12%.