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© StefanoZardini

The Falzarego Pass

The Falzarego pass is a high mountain pass in the Veneto region, in the province of Belluno.
It is nestled between the mountains Lagazuoi and Col Gallina, in front of Mt. Sasso di Stria at an altitude of 2,109 m, only a few kilometres south of the South Tyrolean border, to which it is connected via the Valparola pass. 

This pass connects the territory of Agordo and the Badia Valley with Cortina d'Ampezzo via the Great Dolomites Road, the SS 48.

Fabrizio Sarenti

Northwards, the pass is surmounted for over 600 metres by the rock towers of the Piccolo Lagazuoi. 

During the First World War its steep rock faces were the scene of heavy fighting at high altitude between Austria and Italy. Between 1915 and 1917, the area around the Falzarego pass was a no man's land between the first two front lines of the opposing armies. It was a very important strategic point, where on 5th July 1915 the first Italian attacks were launched against the Austro-Hungarian barrier at the Valparola pass.

In memory of this war, today there is a monument on the pass. 

HISTORICAL INSIGHTS   Falzarego Pass 1915-17   >>>

Etymology of the name

Falzarego is the italianization of the Ladin name El Fouzàrgo. In the local legends the name has been subject to suggestive interpretations such as "fautzo Rego", two words which in Ladin mean “false king” and refer to a king who betrayed his people and whose petrified shape can still be seen on the rock walls of Mt. Lagazuoi. 
Actually, the Ampezzan Ladin name Fouzàrgo has a less poetic etymology: the word derives from fòuze "sickle". 
Probably once this ground was a  mowing area, although the presence of the word “mònte“ (the large grassy area on the right side of the road) suggests that this ground was mainly used as pastureland and that fòuze alludes to the shape of the site - for example to the ledge which overlooks Lake Làgo di Lìmides on the right flank of the pass. (source: "Pallidi nomi di monti", Lorenza Russo

© Stefano Zardini

The chapel at Falzarego pass

 At the Falzarego Pass, the gaze immediately falls on a small, simple church (Cappella della Visitazione) with a gable roof. Gray inserts break tup the radiant white of the building.
This chapel was built in 1958 in a beautiful location, slightly elevated above the Great Dolomites Road. 
A magnificent setting for a precious jewel at high altitude, enriched by a fresco of the Visitation of Mary by Vittorio Casetti.
Inside there is a metal plate with a poem that once was situated in the Castelletto of the Tofana. It bears witness to the human tragedy of WW1. 

© Stefano Zardini

The Great Dolomites Road

© Giacomo Pompanin

This magnificent mountain road, one of the most scenic roads in the world, was completed on 13th September 1909.
With a total length of 142 km it gave access to the secret world of the Dolomites which until then had been all but inaccessible.
The Great Dolomites Road begins in Bolzano, passes by Lake Carezza, winds through Canazei, the Pordoi pass, Arabba, Livinallongo del Col di Lana, crosses the Falzarego pass, descends to Cortina d'Ampezzo and ends in Toblach. 


Cycling & motorcycling

© Gerhard Eisenschink

The Falzarego is one of the historical Dolomite passes, key stages of the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy), made famous by the strongest riders ever. Right here, Fausto Coppi defeated for the first time Gino Bartali in a steep and difficult climb in 1946. 
The road to the Falzarego Pass and to the surrounding passes, with endless steep hairpin bends in stunning scenery, is an extremely popular destination for cyclists and motorcyclists. 

The Lagazuoi cable car

© Stefano Zardini

At the Falzarego Pass, a gondola rises to Mt. Lagazuoi. From the top you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the pass and the surrounding Dolomite peaks. 
Since 1965, this cable car has connected the Falzarego pass (2,117 m) with the Lagazuoi Refuge at an altitude of 2,746 metres. This lift facility kicked off the development of a popular tourist attraction area. 
Over the years, Mount Lagazuoi has become a popular skiing and hiking area of Cortina d'Ampezzo. 
The area has been made progressively attractive to tourist by the completion of the Open-air Museum of the First World War and, in 2018, of the exhibition pole Lagazuoi Expo Dolomiti