A night in the foothills of the Stelvio Pass – BMW E90 M3

The Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps is one of those roads I keep returning to, just because the landscapes are so magical in that part of Europe. I’ve been on the road with several different cars – the Audi A4 Avant, the BMW Z4 sDrive 35i, the Porsche 991.1 Targa 4S, the Jaguar F-Type Coupe R, the Porsche 981 Cayman GTS, and eventually came the day when we took our daily driver – the BMW E90 M3 – for a blast in the mountains.

Having driven to Italy for Colcorsa work – a Porsche handover in Florence in the morning, followed by a Ferrari handover in Milan in the evening – it seemed like a good idea to make a bit more out of the drive, and have some time at leisure exploring beautiful places in one of my favourite countries. Dan had never been to the Stelvio Pass before, so it was an absolute must-go-to given how obsessed I am with the road, and easily reachable in about 3 hours from Milan, so a mini road trip plan was born. The journey from Milan to Bormio is through beautiful scenery on fast open roads running along the Swiss border, through a valley surrounded by steep vine covered hills, and we ended up spending a night at the beautiful Grand Hotel Bagni Nuovi Bormio, nestling in the foothills of the Stelvio National Park. The hotel was situated less than 20 kms from the summit of Stelvio Pass, and whilst Dan started getting into holiday mood and just wanted to relax – the hotel has an amazing spa compex, and a wine list full of local labels – I had already made some very exciting plans that meant we’d have a very early wake-up. Because how could you possibly stay that close to one of the most picture perfect driving roads in the world, and not leap out of the bed at dawn to catch the sunrise…

The trouble with sunrise drives is that for them to be fully enjoyable it would be helpful to get to bed on time, and enjoy a decent amount of sleep before embarking on an early morning adventure. But it was challenging, because the spa complex closed at eight, and the bar served outstanding white russians, and the restaurant served food until late, and the wine list was… I am sure we tried our very best to be grown ups, but time just went by and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were the last guests to leave the restaurant. When the alarm went off just before 5 AM in the morning it felt like torture to get dressed, rush to the garage, and try to reach an altitude of 2,757m in complete darkness. It was beautiful though, so very peaceful. I can’t remember other cars but I’m sure there must have been one or two early birds around, other than a few grazing cows happily munching on their breakfast. All I can remember is the serenity that surrounds you in this isolated mountain range, because few people would choose this route that time of the day, and it’s always a treat to drive it without the normally quite busy traffic – even on days like this when a sleep in also felt like a tempting option. I’m glad we didn’t throw in the towel though, because we would have missed out on such a stunning morning…

I didn’t expect a black BMW E90 M3 to look that amazing on Stelvio. It always seems easier to photograph colourful cars that stand out more in the distance, but browsing through the photos all I can say is that the E90 M3 is a fine looking machine – it will be tricky to find a new four-seater daily driver that looks better – especially for E90 M3-money. They are a genuine bargain for what they are – to the point that I’ve said that lets just buy another E90 M3 with less miles on it as our next daily driver, and do it all again…

Stelvio Pass - World's greatest driving roads

Stelvio Pass - BMW E90 M3

Stelvio Pass - Morning light

Stelvio Pass - Early morning

Stelvio Pass - Sara Norris - getpalmd

Stelvio Pass - BMW E90 M3

Sara Norris - getpalmd - Stelvio Pass

Stelvio Pass - BMW E90 M3

Stelvio Pass - E90 M3 - Dan

Stelvio Pass - Sunrise

Stelvio Pass - Sunrise shoot

Stelvio Pass - Summer morning

Stelvio Pass - sunrise drive

Stelvio Pass - BMW E90 M3

Stelvio Pass - BMW E90 M3

Stelvio Pass - Sunrise run

Stelvio Pass - BMW E90 M3 sunrise

Stelvio Pass - BMW E90 M3

BMW E90 M3 - Ruby black

BMW E90 M3 - Passo Stelvio

Stelvio Pass - Bormio hairpin corners

Stelvio Pass - Waterfall

BMW E90 M3 - Stelvio Pass

Stelvio Pass - Road sign

BMW E90 M3 hairpin corner Stelvio Pass

Written by Sara Norris
I'm Sara - a petrolhead, journalist, blogger, and photographer - with a passion for exploring the world's greatest driving roads in the best driver's cars. I'm the founder and CEO of the luxury driving tour company Colcorsa. At Colcorsa we create for our customers bespoke driving tours – an exclusive supercar driving experience on some of the best driving roads in Europe, in your dream performance car or classic car.