Snow still sits atop the Graubünden peaks, but at least the Flüela Pass is luring people with its fantastic views and dry, deserted sequences of curves – just the place to blast away the lockdown blues of the past few months. Together with his father, our photographer Andrea Klainguti was finally able to drive out the winter from his home in the Engadine. His car of choice? The latest addition to the family: a hot-blooded Alfa Romeo SZ. Last year we got up close and personal with this obscure Zagato Alfa in Milan, but in the cool, clear mountain air, tackling endless streams of corners with considerable gusto, the sports car really comes into its own.
Since 1867 the 26km-long Flüela Pass has connected the villages of Davos Dorf and Susch in the Lower Engadine. Together with the Albula Pass, the Flüela is closed to traffic in the winter months. Because avalanches present such risks, winter closures of up to six months are not uncommon, as was the case last year when many passes only reopened at the end of May. The travel options for dwellers of the Engadine during the winter months are thus limited to the Julier Pass and the Vereina tunnel. But Julierstrasse is very far from the Lower Engadine and the tunnel is crowded at peak times and closed overnight.
A longer opening of the Flüela Pass would bring a lot to the region’s residents and guests. This was the thinking of the Pro Flüela association when it formed back in 2000. With around 250 members, the association aims to keep the Flüela Pass open until 1 January and reopen it from 1 May. To achieve this, additional safety measures are taken, and the usual maintenance work is carried out. “Thanks to the work of the Pro Flüela association, the pass is open 100 days a year and these extra days are the best for me,” Andrea explains. “When it’s not quite spring, the snow hasn’t melted and the roads are still free of groups of motorcycles and cars.”
The roads are now free of the salt that ravages precious metal and many local drivers are bringing their cars out of hibernation. “Or they buy a new one, like my father did with his Alfa SZ,” continues Andrea. “I was smitten with the car since our shoot with Guglielmo Miani’s car last summer and my father always admired the car in the 1990s. It goes without saying that we arranged the pick-up near Zurich to coincide with the reopening of the Flüela Pass.” On their return journey, the motorway miles to Davos are dispatched quickly and then the fun begins. “The road is empty and the curves are very familiar to us both. The sound of the three-litre Busso engine is so addictive and the incredible grip and balance of the Alfa 75 Group A/IMSA chassis could be felt.” Is there a better way to open the curve season?
Photos: Andrea Klainguti