Timmelsjoch is the German language name of the high alpine (2509 meters altitude) pass which enables you to cross the Alps between Austria and Italy. It is called Passo del Rombo (Passorombo) in Italian.
I found the extreme contrast in the landscapes over such a short distance fascinating: from the inhabitable, barren, rocky ground at the mountain peak to the lush, luminous green vegetation in Passeier Valley of South Tyrol (Italy).
The Timmelsjoch Pass is only open for a few months in the summer from mid-June to mid-October. We visited on a very cold but clear day in October 2016 right before it closed and will be going back to this region for our summer vacation this year.
The 45 kilometers of breathtaking road has over 30 hairpin curves, making it a favorite for cyclists and motorcyclists. The number of vehicles increases each year: in 2018 there were over 86,000 motorcyclists and 106,000 cars. Ironically, no heavy vehicles (trucks or trailers) are allowed. I say ironically because the pass historically was used as a major trade route between northern and southern Europe, which I will explain next.
Before the high alpine road and pass opened to traffic in 1968 after over 15 years of road construction (started in 1955 on the Austrian side), people travelled by foot for centuries.
Today we take for granted the common Euro currency and the ease of passage between countries without a passport for people or customs for goods.
However this freedom has existed only for a few "minutes" compared to the centuries prior during which people risked their lives for trade. Trade over the Timmelsjoch pass started over 700 years ago in the 13th century.
To avoid expensive customs, traders smuggled their goods across borders. It took a smuggler over 10 hours to cross by foot with his heavy pack filled with food, wine and flax, often in snow storm.
There are five architectural installations along the high alpine road from Timmelsjoch with information panels explaining its history while providing spectacular views of the mountainous landscape.