The Dolomites’ Sella Pass restricts car access to safeguard environment

The Sella Pass in the Dolomite mountains is no more than three hours away from Venice, and, just like the Adriatic city, it is taking several measures to tackle the problem of over-tourism.

The Dolomites have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. Photo by Matt Munro/Lonely Planet

The Sella Pass connects the provinces of Trento and Bolzano, letting people move through the Fascia Valley in Trentino and the Val Gardena in South Tyrol, and it’s one of the most important in the whole UNESCO World Heritage complex of the Dolomites mountains. And starting this week until the end of August, it’s also officially a controlled traffic zone.

The city of Bolzano, or Bozen, is very famous for its Christmas markets. Photo by Juergen Sack/Getty Images

Last year almost 5000 cars a day drove up to the pass, and the local administrations in both Trento and Bolzano have decided to tackle the problem by creating the Dolomitesvives pass, which limits access to the Sella. Only 350 vehicles a day will be admitted, if they have the pass, and this will go on every week (weekends excluded) for the rest of the summer.

Of the 350 vehicles allowed on the pass, 200 will be allowed in the morning while 100/150 more in the afternoon. Photo by Achim Tomae/Getty Images

The administrations hope to reduce traffic by at least 20% and to protect the Alpine environment from the air and noise pollution that the constant transit of cars brings. The aim is to have “more tourists and fewer cars climbing up to the pass,” as it reads in official press releases. Exceptions will be made for electrical vehicles, employees of Sella Pass activities and for guests of hotels that are beyond the controls line.

The owners of commercial activities up the pass have not been happy with these new access restrictions. Photo by Arutthaphon Poolsawasol/Getty Images

It’s the first time a system like this has been tried on one of the four passes that make up the Sella group – if the experiment turns out successful, the Dolomitesvives might be extended to the other three, the Campolongo, Pordoi, and Gardena passes.

The Pordoi Pass is one of the four that constitute the Sella group. Photo by Lukasz Janyst/Shutterstock

If you’re a planning a trip up the Dolomites, then, remember that you can request a pass or at the info points throughout the road driving up to the Sella. But the local administrations encourage tourists to use alternative solutions, such as shuttle buses, bikes, or the cableways going up the Sella Pass from both sides.

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