Foliage in Carnia: 2 itineraries not to miss the autumn show


The Americans are crazy about it and recently it is becoming more and more popular with us too: I’m talking about Fall Foliage, an evocative term that reminds many of distant countries, such as Quebec, Maine, New England. Actually, it is a new tourist trend that is looking for one of the most surprising shows that nature offers us every year in Autumn: the transformation of the colour of the tree leaves from green to yellow, orange, red and brown. Without bothering the famous forests of Canada, even those of our mountains are about to give us a palette full of colours.

A show that in Friuli Venezia Giulia is particularly suggestive, thanks to the extraordinary biodiversity given by the numerous species of trees available. Maples, larches, birches, ash trees, chestnut trees: nothing is missing here and the leaves are literally painted in a thousand colours. I personally love autumn very much: it succeeds in transmitting to me a deep desire for slowness, silence, regenerating experiences, in contact with nature, walks in the woods, in search of that enchantment given by the colours that cross them, almost burning them. A desire for Foliage, in short.

Two itineraries are particularly meaningful to me: I tell you about them in pictures, wonderful portraits of nature and mountains captured by a very special delicacy and talent. The photographer and very dear friend Gigliola di Piazza unveils in her shots all that poetry and enchantment that are magically created by walking on any autumn day in these places.


Lake Bordaglia, situated in a basin of glacial origin, is located within the Oasi Di Bordaglia, the largest wildlife refuge oasis in Friuli Venezia Giulia. An area where chamois, roe deer, but also capercaillie, ptarmigan and even the golden eagle are common. The lake is one of my favourite itineraries in every season: I think I have been there every year since I was a child. But the autumn experience is unrivalled: this stretch of water surrounded by large larch trees and mountain pine woodlands, gives between October and November a surprising and intimate spectacle. I remember a Sunday in October a few years ago, when I was sitting alone on one of the big stones bathing in the lake: immersed in the almost surreal silence of the place, I fully felt the sense of Autumn, of this season of detachment in which nature perpetuates its cycle, giving me the feeling of time, inexorable, of course, but there for a few moments, completely mine, in a full and satisfying way.

Il lago Bordaglia d’Autunno – foto di Gigliola Di Piazza –
Il tratto iniziale del sentiero che conduce al Lago Bordaglia – foto di Gigliola Di Piazza –


From Forni Avoltri, a town in the province of Udine, take the asphalt road and reach Pierabech (km 2.5 m. 1060), continuing until you come to a Marble Quarry (m 1103). In this area it is possible to park on the road and continue along the forest road until you reach the Sentiero. CAI 140 (Forni Avoltri – Stretta di Fleons – Passo Sesis) and continue, following the Degano stream until the junction with the sent. CAI 141 m. 1043 and take the latter on the right. Continue along the Rio Bordaglia for a good part, then you detach to arrive shortly afterwards at the junction with the sent. N. 142 m. 1420, which you follow crossing the valley of Rio Bordaglia. You go up to the ruins of the C.ra Bordaglia di Sotto m. 1565, then to the Casera di Bordaglia di Sopra m 1823, arriving shortly after to the Bordaglia Lake.


Val Degano is one of the seven valleys of Carnia. Narrow with numerous terraces halfway up the coast, it boasts characteristic villages that are often ignored by “classic” tourist itineraries. Tourists visiting Carnia, in fact, are led to follow the great communication roads at the bottom of the valley, which they rarely leave to climb up the hairpin bends of the narrow streets that lead to the hamlets where there is much of the hidden charm of the territory; small mountain villages that from afar look like small isolated stars in a magnificent summer sky. The itinerary touches some small jewels of the Upper Degano Valley almost clinging to the valley and inhabited today by very few people. Landscapes where the experience is that of a silent walk among lonely alleys, shy glances, watchful cats, smoking fireplaces and breathtaking horizons over endless valleys and woods like rainbows. Beyond Comeglians, the Upper Degano Valley narrows and opens up these small temples of solitude and nature on the right and left: Calgaretto, a small village in a magnificent position dominating the Comeglians basin; Valpicetto, with the typical architecture of the beautiful houses of Carnia, dominated by the small church of Santa Barbara; the state road at the entrance to Rigolato is resumed and the hamlets of Gracco, Vuezzis and Stalis are equally not to be missed: the first one stands out from afar for its multicoloured houses and the bandit forest that overlooks it and that the Republic of Venice, during its dominion, cared for and supervised. This precious wood was used to guarantee the material for the construction of the ships and piles on which it still stands today.

The Bandito forest offers a surprising spectacle in spring and autumn.

It is a rich forest whose beech tree represents the dominant essence and includes some specimens of considerable size with twisted and rubbed trunks, the largest of which (circumference 4.10 m, height 31 m, age about 200 years) is located at the edge of the paved mule track through the forest.

Gracco, frazione di Rigolato – foto di Gigliola di Piazza –
Vista del Bosco di Gracco – foto di Gigliola Di Piazza –

Autumn is perhaps all this: getting lost by choice in the masterpiece that Nature gives us every year.

To move away from the world, from its noises, its speed, its words to contemplate with all our senses places and horizons of an Elsewhere that it is sometimes good for us to meet. Because taking away, losing oneself, abandoning oneself even through a simple walk in the woods, enjoying the Beauty it gives, means in some way getting closer to oneself, looking at the world with a perhaps more joyous glance.

There is a joy in the unexplored woods. There is an ecstasy on the lonely beach. There is life where no one comes close to the deep sea, and there is music in its roar. I don’t love man less, but Nature more. George Gordon Byron

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