This is the first real demanding stage of our journey especially for its considerable length: to be tackled entirely, only if equipped with good legs and good lungs.
The effort is rewarded by the splendid views of the Isonzo Valley, which can be admired from MonteKolovrat (1.243 m) before the difficult descent into the magical village of Topolò.
Even if there are no significant height differences, this stage is very long. The less trained can interrupt it at the Solarie mountain hut, before starting the climb to the Kolovrat.
Risk of ticks.
The descent from Kolovrat is quite demanding due to the slope and the slippery surface: face it with caution (especially with MTB).
The water points often bear the words "not drinkable". However, locals say you can drink it, even if it was not examined and certified.
We walk north-east along the ridge in moderately demanding ups and downs, often overlooking the Slovenian Judrio valley.
After passing the small town of Gnidovizza, we reach the hamlet of Tribil Superiore.
We continue and bypass the top of Monte Cum from the north side. We pass by an Austrian ossuary while on a comfortable road, suitable for vehicles. Shortly after, we pass the center of Clabuzzaro and while skirting some remains of military buildings, we reach the beautiful Solarie mountain hut.
An ascent (approx. 150 m height difference) takes us to the Kolovrat mountain range. Once on the first peak (Monte Poclabuz), you can visit the well-preserved trenches of the Great War, from which you can admire the Isonzo Valley and the town of Caporetto. We spot Monte Nero and the Matajur.
Continuing on the panoramic ridge along the Italian-Slovenian border, we pass the Zanusobivouac (always open) and we reach the top of MonteNagnoj (1,193 m, the highest top reached so far). From there you start a steep and demanding descent into the woods. Once in the town of Lasè, we cross the woods encountering waterfalls and small pools. Finally, we come to the small town of Topolò.
The question of the Slavia Friulana (Friulian Slavia), or Benecija, is little known. The Slavic populations arrived here around the fifth century A.D. Over the centuries the Natisone Valleys maintained their autonomy even under the Venetian dominion of the Serenissima.
In the fascist era, efforts were made to eliminate the Slovenian cultural identity and one of the tools used was the Italianization of Slovenian names.
The most dramatic period came with the end of the Second World War. Due to the proximity to Communist Yugoslavia, Slovenian speakers were accused of being a pro-Communist party. This led to a sort of witch hunt. Several ex-soldiers and fascists became spies of the secret paramilitary organization Gladio.
This complex conflict situation continued until the 1990s generating a climate of tension and suspicion that contributed to the depopulation of these places. Today the Slovenian minority is at last recognized and there are many initiatives in its favor, such as the bilingual school in San Pietro al Natisone or the SMO museum (Slovensko Multimedialno Okno - Slovenian multimedia window: for more info, follow the LINK).
Stazione Topolò - Postaja Topolove (Topolò Station), is a beautiful contemporary art event that takes place every year in July with important guests.
Artists from all over the world move to Topolò and transform it with artifacts and performances, inspired by the interaction with the territory. With its power, art affects the dynamics of the small village.
Artistic performances are held in the alleys, in the old barns, and on the edge of the woods, without a real distinction between audience and artists. There are no fixed times, but generic indications: "at sunset", "early afternoon", "in the dark".
Gubana is the sweet symbol of the whole region. It is a sweet dough cake with a spiral shape filled with raisins, walnuts, and pine nuts. Originally from the Natisone Valleys, together with the strucchi ( dumplings with the same filling as the gubana, boiled or fried), it represents the best way to finish a meal.
To get a nice meal, we recommend the Trattoria alla Posta in the nearby hamlet of Clodig: it is a special place. Maria and her husband of 50 years offer local cuisine, prepared with care and passion. The elegant and tasty dishes represent the story of the visceral relationship that the inhabitants of the area have with these valleys. Try the blueberry gnocchi!
Casa Vacanze Valentarjova, in Topolò. Tel. +39 0432 725076
Albergo Diffuso Casa Bergnach, in Topolò. Tel. +39 338 202 5905
Starting point reachable by car.
Starting point reachable by bus from the city of Udine.
Here the LINK to check the timetables.
Departure point NOT reachable by train.
Va' Sentiero is a grassroot project, thanks to the spontaneous contribution oft housands of people.
Even the most complicated dream, a 7,000km uphill dream,
can be achieved... together.