I’m fascinated with dangerous roads, so when an prominent adventure motorcycle magazine wrote a short article titled The World’s Most Dangerous Roads: Pasubio Road, Italy, I was immediately intrigued. I read the article with excitement and fascination, but with a bit of discretion. The author’s name wasn’t listed and there weren’t photographs of motorcycles on this road. Had I been click-baited? Could a road this dangerous really be riden on a motorcycle? I intended to find out for myself.
A Bit of Planning
One could easily drive to the large parking area, pay the parking fee of 5 euros, and hike up and down the 6.8 mile (10.9 km) length of the Road of 52 Tunnels, however, we had a different plan in mind. We decided we wanted to thru hike 9.8 miles (15.8 km) instead of the typical “out and back” that most people do. Unfortunately, there isn’t a bus that provides this service. Fortunately, we have two motorcycles that we could use to ferry us from parking lot to parking area.
The process was a bit convoluted… We rode to the large parking area (Parking Area on map) and dropped off Chantil’s motorcycle. I left most of my riding gear with her bike except for my helmet. We then rode 2-up on my motorcycle back to the start of the hike (red marker on map). After parking my bike in a parking area at the base of the road, we changed into hiking clothes and began the hike. The only issue we had was that we needed to carry our helmets so we could ride Chantil’s motorcycle 2-up back to my motorcycle after finishing the hike. A bit of planning but, in the end, it was nice to be able to do a thru hike instead of walking up and down the same trail.
The question on my mind was still “Is it possible to ride a motorcycle on the Road of 52 Tunnels?” Within the first 100 feet I had my answer as we walked past a Italian road-sign that translated into “No Entry Except for Bicycles and Authorized Vehicles”. Yes, it is possible to ride a motorcycle on portions of this road, but it would be illegal to do so.
The first part of the road was highlighted by wonderful views of the surrounding jagged peaks that would occasionally peak out from behind the forest.
The temperature was very comfortable and we enjoyed a leisure pace as we climbed the first 4.8 miles (7.7 km) to the start of the Road of 52 Tunnels.
While passing along a thick forested section of the road, we noticed something moving on the hillside. We froze, they froze. We both stood frozen, looking at each other for half a minute before I slowly reached for my camera. It turns out we were looking at a pair of chamois – a goat-antelope animal that is native to the mountainous regions of central Europe. They were looking at Americans, a bipedal-primate native to North America.
An ideal summer day with flowers, butterflies, warm sun, wonderful views of the Italian Alps, and a couple hikers carrying their motorcycle helmet with them?!? We ended up getting a few quizzical looks throughout the day.
After reaching the top of the road, we came to this tunnel entrance named in honor of Italian General Achille d’Havet. The excitement was building, because the next 4.1 miles (6.6 km) is where the hike would start to get exhilarating!
Once we passed through the tunnel, we were inundated with the pure awe of the surrounding jagged peaks, steep drop offs, and the winding path that was literally cut into the side of the mountain! The Road of 52 Tunnels is easily one of the most exciting hikes we’ve ever experienced.
This trail is regarded as a masterpiece of military engineering. The Italian Army and six hundred workers started the process in Feb 1917, and finished just nine months later! A remarkable achievement considering the conditions and remoteness of this mountain pass.
Can you guess why the road is named The Road of 52 Tunnels? Because there are 52 numbered tunnels that were carved out of the mountain side.
Some of the tunnels are so long, like tunnel number 34 at 433 feet (132 meters), that the engineers cut windows in them to let in natural light. Each of these tunnels had to be at least 7 feet wide to allow the passage of two mules and their luggage.
Speaking of mules… This area is definitely not allowed for motorcycling or bicycling. There have been several fatal accidents involving mountain bikes in the past.
If you want to enjoy the exhilaration and incredible views that The Road of 52 Tunnels offers then you’ll have to lace up your hiking shoes. It will definitely be worth the effort, however. This hike is high on the list of the most favorite hikes we’ve ever done.
We continued down the narrow trails and numerous tunnels until we reached tunnel number one…
…This is named in honor of Captain Zappa who was the commander of the 33rd Miners Company that was tasked with building the route for the Italian Army.
After reaching the bottom, we felt a huge sense of accomplishment . We had just hiked 9.8 miles (15.8 km) along easily one of the most beautiful, exhilarating, and historic trails of our lives.
Once we reached the parking lot, we suited up in our motorcycle gear and rode 2-up on Chantil’s motorcycle the short distance back to my motorcycle. We were leaving the Italian Alps late in the afternoon and still had a lot of distance to cover before reaching an Airbnb located just outside the city of Venice, Italy.
Next Blog Post
Join us for a day of exploring the beautiful and iconic Italian city of Venice – The Queen of the Adriatic!
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25 Aug 2020