Every few years, the Giro d’Italia visits the Colle Delle Finestre and makes a big noise. Eight kilometres of the road leading to the summit from Susa are gravel. For some, that’s eight kilometres of career-defining road.
Once it’s over, the Finestre returns to being a quiet backwater of serenity. The views are good at the bottom and just keeps getting better the higher you go. The peace is deafening.
There is a reason the Colle Delle Finestre is so revered, and it has nothing to do with the gradient or the numbers.
Untouched by all the trappings of the modern world, not a single electricity pylon or phone mast spoils the view. Access is often restricted for motor vehicles during the summer months. Skylarks provide the playlist. The gravel side gets replenished in the spring, so can be very loose, but this is Italy, so you will already be pretty loose.
The Colle Delle Finestre has two sides with very different personalities.
On one side, the super smooth glamorous side, where fabulous Italian women picnic with their husbands in their bikinis. That’s the Italian women in the bikinis, not their husbands. Mostly.
Sophisticated beau restaurants are dotted all over this piece of paradise situated far from anywhere in one of the least populated parts of northern Italy.
The other side is the more famous Giro d’Italia - Vincenzo Nibali gravel climb. Both sides have a mountain range floating about in the background, just in case.