St Gotthard Pass, Ticino, Switzerland
There are a number of ways to move across the Swiss Lepontine Alps. You could catch a train or, if you have any trace of hydrocarbons in your veins, you can take your Porsche 911 out on 15 miles of some of the finest twisty tarmac available.
Known as the Gotthard Pass, this illustrious road climbs out of Airolo on the Italian side of the hills and immediately announces its intent with wide, well-sighted roads that are smoother than what most UK motorists realise can be possible.
Within the first couple of miles the road climbs out of the basin and snakes its way up the side of some spectacular scenery.
Unlike passes such as the Stelvio, the corner count here is not as heady, but there’s a real mix of tight hairpins and faster, sweeping turns, which require a much smoother driving style and higher speeds – perfect for a well-sorted sports car like a 911.
Although the Swiss’ approach to speeding is similar to David Attenborough’s propensity for animal cruelty, in October the roads are empty and progress can be swift.
As the climb continues, a few short tunnels allow the road to cut through areas of rock that simply couldn’t be worked around. In places, these tunnels are open to the valleys’ glare with sectional gaps reminiscent of the nearby Furka Pass, famous for that scene of the DB5/Mustang chase in James Bond’s Goldfinger.
Stopping in one of the numerous laybys allows you to fully appreciate the vista and revel in the view of the asphalt snaking up from the very foot of the mountains.
You can follow the road from above with your eyes, with only a few sections disappearing from view behind the cavernous mountainside. From three-quarters of the way up, snow begins to nestle at the side of the road, it being the only thing delineating the edge of the road.
The lack of any real barrier means getting it wrong is likely to allow a momentary close inspection of the cliff face before the lights go out.
Over the crest of the route, the descent is just as impressive but we suggest fresh brakes, with plenty of engine braking to keep things in check. The route is simply astonishing in a 911 but in truth it would be just as brilliant in a panel van!