|A rooftop view from the balcony of our apartment|
at ai Vellutai.
Rising again, even more steeply than before, my eight kilometre per hour speed around the road’s relentless hairpins was a sobering reminder of what, up until now, had been a very formidable climb. With a height of only 1,378 metres, it might seem a dwarf compared to its northern colleagues, Gavia, Stelvio and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. But there’s no disputing the pass's steeper average gradient, made all the more daunting when you factor in its more gentile approach to the summit.
Leaving the steep forest slopes behind, the lush, green meadows of Sega di Ala appeared for the very first time. Only four kilometres of road left to travel, I couldn’t think of a better climax to my last climb in Italy – this time. With the gradient easing off and in full view of Monte Lessini’s spectacular summit to the east, the strain of the previous 90 minutes had all but dissipated.
A far cry from Passo Stelvio’s marketable summit, there was nothing at the top of the pass, apart from Roz, who as usual, had walked up the last three kilometres, a small bar and eatery, and a war memorial to the fallen soldiers of the 1st and 2nd World Wars. A peaceful resting place, with hardly a person in sight – save for the handful of German motorcyclists sharing a conversation over a beer – it seemed just the appropriate place to finish my cycling sojourn in Northern Italy.