• Discover
  • Route planner
  • Features

Colle del Colombardo and the Colle delle Finestre — Two of the Italian gravel giants

Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere

Colle del Colombardo and the Colle delle Finestre — Two of the Italian gravel giants

Mountain Biking Collection by Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere



12:31 h

132 mi

20,975 ft

Fancy tackling a couple of the big gravel passes in the Italian Alps? If so then the Colle del Colombardo and the Colle delle Finestre are two classics to add to your bucket list! You can either take on the 100 kilometres and 3,800 metres of climbing in one big day, or split it over two days as I did, with one climb per day.

Both of these monster climbs start off paved, before turning to gravel halfway up, with the Colle del Colombardo probably the tougher of the two. On the Colombardo the first few kilometres of the climb were steep! Thankfully with it being paved, it was very rideable, but you definitely can’t help but think to yourself “I hope it's not this steep for the next 13 kilometres!”

After 5 kilometres of paved road, we reached the tiny hamlet of Sant'Antonio and the gravel began. 7 kilometres of loose, rough and chunky gravel at that, doable on a gravel bike but easier on a mountain bike. At 1,898 metres we reached the pass and found the sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna Degli Angeli, still today a destination for Marian pilgrimages.

After the pass, the dirt road actually climbed up for a further couple of kilometres to over 2,000 metres, but it was a gentle gradient, traversing across the mountain tops. It’s here that the views really provide the wow moments. After all that effort, the descent into the Valle di Susa didn’t disappoint.

The Colle delle Finestre also started pretty steep, but it soon settled into a nice gradient and I was especially thankful that the majority of the tarmac section was in the trees, offering some much-needed shade from the 35 degree heat!

The Finestre is possibly the most famous of the Italian gravel roads, thanks to it being featured in the Giro d’Italia several times. At 19 kilometres long with its iconic 55 hairpins, it is undeniably spectacular. The road was built in the 1700’s to access the old military Forte di Fenestrelle, and tops out at 2,178 metres.

The first 11 kilometres are on tarmac and you wind your way up shoelace switchbacks through the trees. When the tarmac stops and the gravel begins the valley opens up and the views are epic. This road really is switchback heaven.

Due to its popularity with off-road vehicles as well as cyclists, the gravel section is very well compacted, making it easier riding than the previous days Colle delle Colombardo. Mountain bike, gravel bike, even road bikes can take on the mighty Colle delle Finestre... Although from my experience the road bike is okay up, but a bit touch-and-go descending the gravel side.

From the summit there are several options, you can either turn right along the stunning old military road ‘Strada dell’Assietta’ which is AMAZING and I would highly recommend it (but we had ridden this last summer.) Drop back down the mountain, either the way you had just come to Susa, or down the paved road the other side into the Sestriere valley. Or if you were looking for the road less travelled and not afraid of some hard graft hike-a-bike, then you could turn left and follow my continued route back to the car. Warning: the hike-a-bike section is not for the faint-hearted with two to three hours of hauling, pushing and lifting on a footpath over the Colle la Roussa!

On The Map


Do it yourself

Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.

Italian Gravel Giants

62.0 mi

12,850 ft

7,275 ft

Last updated: November 14, 2021

Tours & Highlights

  • Day 1: Colle del Colombardo — Italian gravel giants

    43.7 mi
    7.5 mph
    6,350 ft
    6,550 ft

    Leaving the pretty historic town of Lonzo, the route wound its way up the provincial road for 20 kilometres, to the foot of the main event, the Colle del Colombardo.


    The first few kilometres of the climb were steep! Thankfully it is paved so very rideable, but you definitely can’t help but think to yourself

    by Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere

  • 20.6 mi
    -- mph
    6,075 ft
    350 ft

    The second day started on the little lanes winding through sleepy villages. There was even a little easy single track in places. Then before we knew it, we had popped into the town of Susa and a much-awaited second breakfast.


    It was 9.30am and already 30 degrees Celsius, making the 19 kilometre Colle

    by Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere

  • Sign Up To Discover Places Like This

    Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.

  • 17.1 mi
    -- mph
    2,975 ft
    5,100 ft

    Having completed the two big gravel passes, we needed to get back to the car. Not wanting to go back the way we came, or ride around the mountains on the valley floor, we were looking for another way back up and over. We found one, but it wasn’t going to be easy! A hiking route over the Colle la Roussa

    by Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere

  • 06:42
    50.9 mi
    7.6 mph
    5,575 ft
    9,000 ft

    The third and final day to get back to the car. It was a fairly early start, as we knew it was going to be a gruelling hike-a-bike right from the get-go today. We had to follow the hiker's path up to the Colle la Roussa at 2,019 metres. It was arduous work as the path was not only steep in places, but

    by Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere

Like this Collection?

Questions and Comments


Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    132 mi
  • Duration
    12:31 h
  • Elevation
    20,975 ft

You Might Also Like

7,600 km across the continent — European Divide Trail

Mountain Biking Collection by European Divide Trail

Western trans-alpine crossing – pure adventure on your mountain bike

Mountain Biking Collection by Martin Donat

3 stages of summit happiness in Germany’s Allgäu – Heilbronner Way

Hiking Collection by Mareike

Vast meadows and luscious wetlands - the green side of the radrevier.ruhr

Bike Touring Collection by radrevier.ruhr