Pfitscherjoch/ Passo di Visse bewteen Italy and Austria

Pfitscher Joch in Alps
Pfitscher Joch in Alps (Photo credit: File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske))

The Pfitscherjoch, or Passo di Vizze as it is known in Italian, is a remote mountain pass on the border between Italy and Austria. At almost 7,500 feet (2,276 m) above sea level, it is one of the highest alpine passes in Europe. This remote and scenic pass is a beautiful alternate to the heavily traveled Brenner Pass, some 40 kilometers away on the S12 route connecting Innsbruck to Italy. To reach the pass from the Italian side, you need to head east and north from Bolzano/Bozen toward Bressanone/ Brixen, then on to Vipiteno/ Sterzing. Once there, visitors to the Pfitscherjoch must obtain permission from the Vipiteno/ Sterzing Forest Service at the well-marked station. Beyond the town to the east, the S508 road ascends through picturesque mountain villages toward the Austrian border. The road is unpaved in some places, so use caution. The ascent to the pass is a series of sharp, hairpin turns on a dirt road ending at a parking just before the pass. Once at the parking area, you must either walk or bicycle across the border to the Austrian side.

Vizze0 (Photo credit: Idéfix~commonswiki)

The Pfitscherjoch commands a view of the valley of the Pfitsch Zamser Grund and the Zillertal Alps to the east. At the pass, stands a typical Alpine refuge, built in 1888.

Passo di Vizze - m 2276 slm - panoramio
Passo di Vizze - m 2276 slm - panoramio (Photo credit: Panoramio upload bot)

This historic structure was damaged in a 1966 bombing attach by the South Tyrol Liberation Front.

The vantage points from there are breathtaking. Along the moderate bike or foot trail just over the border the visitor is rewarded with vistas of an artificial lake, the Schlegeisstausee, which was build in 1965.

Further, along the trail a mountain peak known as Gran Pilarstro/ Hochfeiler rises majestically. A powerful waterfall descends from the north side of the peak to the hidden valley below, the feeling of serenity at Pfitscherjoch while stepping between Italy and Austria is a dramatic contrast to the busy border station at Brenner Pass, which is only a short distance away.

See also