Built during World War I by the Italian military, the Road of 52 Tunnels (Strada delle 52 Gallerie) is a mist covered path that leads hikers in and out of dozens of dark, rocky tunnels, each with their own character.
Originally built as a supply line for Italian troops who were defending against Austrian and Hungarian forces in the mountainous high country, the path was made to accommodate the soldiers and their mules. Italy’s 5th Engineering Regiment carved out the trail in less than a year, no small feat given the technology of the time. The vistas and porticoes formed by the tunnels and the path were also used as defensive positions during heated fighting.
Once the trail was completed, it stretched over four miles of terrain, over a mile and a half of which is contained within the various tunnels. Each of the passages was given its own appellation by the builders and a number of them had decorative arches built over the entrances. One of the most striking tunnels along the way is #20 which is carved into a stone tower in a corkscrew.
Today the road is open to visitors and can be hiked from start to finish, although it is not for the faint of heart. The tunnels are unlit and flashlights are required. The higher climbs can be hazardous, but for anyone willing to brave the heights it is a stunning mix of nature and engineering prowess.
Know Before You Go
Follow directions to Schio if you're coming from Padua or Venice, then "Valli del Pasubio" and eventually "Posina" (1,5 hrs). The main road is the SP46 and you need to stick to it till you get to "Passo Xomo". Once you're there follow local instruction to get to the parking lot where you can leave the car and start the trail. A map or a GPS device is highly recommended.