After Cividale I parked at Ponte di San Quirino and warmed up on the strada statale toward Slovenia. After San Pietro al Natisone, I turned left at Pulfero, crossed Torrente Natisone and immediately started climbing. This is another of those ascents I love so much- uncrowded switchbacks grappling up a steep hillside, immersed in dense forest, silent except for birdsong and falling water. From 200m to 775 meters there are few breaks in the constant gradient (averaging 8.5%). The cliffside villages of Erbezzo, Zapatocco, and Calla are about the only reduced gradient points. The grind finally lets up at a chiesetta above Calla at 780m, where a wonderful 5km flat-to-slightly-downhill section begins. Great views of Montefosca and the surrounding mountains from here.
Montefosca seems like the end of the road, but there's a sign pointing to Slovenia and Canebola. I thought maybe I'd missed a turn, as the paved path meandered through a narrow alley past peoples' front steps and gardens, but some road bikers surprisingly arrived from the opposite direction and confirmed this was the way to Slovenia. Soon as you leave Montefosca the road gets quite steep- several ramps of 16-18% in the next kilometer, till the high point at 853m. There's a brief flat stretch here on the flank of Monte Vogu, then a steep descent for the next 3km or so, including some -16 to -18% slopes. The road is quite rough (pebbles stuck in asphalt, with many of the pebbles having come loose), though it was no problem to descend cautiously. Climbing 18% on a loose-pebble road could cause problems. When I ride this route in the opposite direction someday, I'll be ready to jump off and walk if loss of traction is too bad.
The descent ends in a lovely meadow area at 646m. There is a rustic agriturismo here, with nice pastures with horses, cows, goats and deer. Also an area with much moss-covered eroded karst stone, like Pradis di Sotto or Il Cansiglio. I've read this rounded erosion was caused by underground rivers carving the karst when it was deep underground. The shapes do look like cave formations.
I followed the tiny paved lane to the Slovenia border which has no river or bridge, only a disused border control station and a sign. The nearest village in Slovenia is Robidišce. The Italian town of Prossenicco is visible in the distance and can be reached by hiking trail.
After returning to the meadowy area, I continued on the narrow lane up the gradual ascent to La Bocchetta di Sant'Antonio (788m). From there, I descended the smoothly-paved switchbacks through Canebola to Faedis. This will be a nice climb to try someday.
On the main road from Faedis I cruised down to Cividale, then east to Ponte di San Quirino. Another fun ride in this beautiful area- can't wait to return.
BTW stopped by Vogrig paneficio at Cividale on the way home and bought some Plum Cake and a whole grain foccacia. Those will be delicious!
|Montefosca from road at 770m|
|Slovenian peaks from La Bocchetta di Sant'Antonio|
|Close up of Slovenian peaks|
|Map of ride|
|Close up of climb to Montefosca|
|Close up of ascent to 853m, descent to Slovenian border|
Descent from La Bocchetta di Sant'Antonio to Faedis
|The 3 high points: la chiesetta above Calla, Monte Vogu,|
La Bocchetta di Sant'Antonio