This region completes my map for Northern Italy. Now I can say I visited all the northern regions of this beautiful country and the more I visit, the more I want to return to explore better. Northern Italy is by far my favourite region in the world; from the beautiful Ligurian Coast to the Gran Paradiso Park in Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta, the lakes region in the Lombardy, the stunning Dolomites in Veneto and Trentino and the Julian Alps to the east in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Apart from natural wonders, North Italy has a lot to offer! A lot of tourists which visit Italy for the first time (especially if they are arriving from another continent) will most likely only visit Venice in the north and then skip on to Florence or Rome. However I really do not recommend this. You can spend months exploring North Italy and I am lucky enough to live 2hrs of flight away from all of this. Friuli Venezia Giulia is one of the least visited areas in the north, however it is quite popular with locals. This region borders with Austria and Slovenia and makes a good day trip destination if you are visiting these places. Here are some suggestions for nature lovers visiting the region:
Lago del Predil
Lago del Predil is situated right next to the Slovenian border and it is one of the most spectacular and largest lakes of the region. This lake is situated right underneath the Predil Pass which is one of the roads through which you can access the border to Slovenia. It can be combined with a trip to Soca valley and Mangart Saddle in Slovenia. There are several activities on the lake that can be done in summer such as canoeing, wind surfing, hiking and swimming. The public beaches are located on the north east tip of the lake as well as on the south west tip where the river flows into the lake. Around the area you can also observe some fortification ruins dating back to the first world war.
Passo di Pramollo
I love mountain passes, especially driving through them, so I always try to include them in my itineraries when travelling to mountains. I love the fact that with every new turn there is always something spectacular to admire. Ok this is not the safest tip you can give to a driver! Ideally if you love this type of scenery you choose the passenger seat instead. However I just love driving through the curves (while my husband usually drives the highways) so it’s a win win situation for us :). This pass is located on the Austrian border with Nassfeld Pass in Carinthia region. Mountain lakes are the most spectacular landscape in my opinion and this area is scattered with so many lakes that you will have to choose the most beautiful ones.
Laghi di Fusine
These twin glacial lakes are located to the east of Tarvisio, 20 minutes away from the Slovenian border and 35 from the Austrian one. The best time to visit is in the morning as there are gorgeous reflections of the surrounding mountains. However they are a surprising hidden gem that can be enjoyed all day long. You can spend an entire day exploring the surroundings of these lakes and you can walk from a lake to the other as they are very close to each other. If you are not that active you can also drive and there is a parking lot next to Lago Superiore which is located at a higher altitude than the Lago Inferiore. Both are beautiful and not very touristic. In fact most of the tourists you will meet will be locals.
Tarvisio and Monte Lussari
Tarvisio is the main town in the area; acting like a crossroad between Italy’s north east, Austria and Slovenia. It’s a skiing destination with several cable cars and gondolas leading to the surrounding peaks. The main attraction is the Santuario del Monte Lussari which can be reached with a cable car located in the outskirts to the West of Tarvisio. You can also walk the steep trail up if you prefer. When you make it to the top you will be able to admire this micro village consisting of a church, a convent, a couple of restaurants and rifugi (mountain lodges) and some souvenir shops. I am not sure whether there are permanent residents on the mountain itself, however there are some houses on top of the restaurants and souvenir shops. Take your time to explore every corner here as it is well worth it!
Sappada and the Dolomiti Friulane
Did you know that the Dolomites extend until the Easternmost region in Italy? Well I did not until I started making some research and found out this beautiful Alpine village. We visited Sappada in Winter and it was the perfect winter wonderland. Unlike other skiing resorts in the Dolomites, it is very affordable. You can find comfortable apartments for less than € 100 per night, and there is no extra payment for the view here! Beautiful views are everywhere you look. This village is less popular and crowded than other places in the Dolomites, yet there are a lot of things to do.
In Winter you can go skiing, snow mobile, horse riding, skiing, ice climbing, snowshoeing and there is a winter snow park for kids right by one of the ski pistes. If you have kids that are too small for skiing (like us), than there is plenty of snow fun for them in this park! In summer there are numerous hiking trails to do in the mountains, lakes and waterfalls you can visit. Don’t forget to walk around the old town of Sappada which is split in borgate. This place is listed among the most beautiful borghi in Italy for its architecture with a bonus of the surrounding Alpine scenery. The closest airport to reach Sappada is Trieste, which is 133km away and approximately 1h40 minutes drive.