A tour of the mountain Passes: Tonale, Gavia, Stelvio and Palade
From Malè: km 254
A close-up meeting with the ice-clad giants at the border between Trentino, Lombardy, Switzerland and South Tyrol: this expression could summarise the tour that includes four Alpine passes. The itinerary encircles the whole Stelvio National Park (135 thousand hectares).
From the Upper Val di Sole, continue to Val Vermiglio and go up, past Vermiglio and along the Austrian-Hungarian fortifications (Forte Strino) opposite the white Presanella slopes (m. 3556). Passo Tonale (m. 1883) is a wind-beaten plateau, known as a winter and summer skiing resort (on the Preséna glacier) that used to mark the borderline with Italy. The monument-ossarium, built after the First World War (1914-1918) is now part of Lombardy. The road goes down with a series of hairpin bends towards Ponte di Legno. A little way before getting to the Lombard tourist resort, leave the main road and turn right into an easy carriage road; after 16 km. - between Mount Gavia (m. 3223) and the Corno dei Tre Signori (m. 3360) – go across the Gavia Pass (m. 2621), and then down to S. Caterina Valfurva (at 13 km. distance you will meet an interesting ethnographic museum). Bormio, that you will reach after 13 kilometres, has historically served as a point of control over the most important Alpine passes.
From the little town, following a road that goes along an old military track (opened between 1820 and 1825), climb up for some 22 kilometres to Passo Stelvio (m. 2758), linking Valtellina to Val Venosta (cable car taking up to Rifugio Livrio, m. 3174, 15 minutes). The way down to Spondigna (km. 27) is overlooked by the Ortles shining peaks (m. 3905), and goes through thick forests and little holiday resorts (Trafoi, Prato allo Stelvio: little Romanesque church dating from 1100; Gomagoi). Val Venosta, starting at Resia (at the border with Austria and Switzerland) where the river Adige flows looks like a long hollow dotted with typical hamlets: Lasa (boasting white marble quarries), Silandro (set amongst large orchards and a powerful Renaissance castle), Laces (featuring Gothic buildings), Castelbello (overlooked by its ancient castle). A short way after the entrance to Val Senales, Naturno boasts several outstanding frescoed paintings, completed between the 8th and the 15th Centuries, in the little church dedicated to St. Procolo). At 14 kilometres from this village, you will drive at the outskirts of Meran, offering a large view over the region’s castles; then take the Palade road, running by Lana and climbing up with large hairpin bends towards Passo Palade (m. 1512). On the way down the Pass, not very distant from it, a road on the right gets to the sanctuary known as Unsere Frau in Walde (the Madonna of Senale), housing some magnificent baroque wood altars and a Madonna venerated since the Middle Ages.
From Senale (14 km.) continue down to Fondo, a farming centre and tourist resort in Upper Val di Non. There are two ways back to Malé: either you drive all the way down to Dermulo, then turn right to Clés and Val di Sole, or you leave the main road at Fondo, and continue towards Brez, Cloz and Revò – amongst the orchards – to eventually join the main road to Malé at the Mostizzòlo bridge.

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