Pian delle Streghe (Plain of the Witches) is named for an old folk legend. Not clear on all the details, but blonde witches from the North came to the altopiano and danced, dressed in campanule (bluebells) and gigli (lilies). And the name has stuck.
I biked from Arta Terme to Sutrio (again), but this time headed to a town called Cercivento. Beautiful place with carved wooden balconies covered with geraniums. Just before the church, took a right on a narrow road and began to ascend. It continues climbing at a 9% average gradient for the next 9km. The road winds like a snake all over the steep slopes of the mountain. Except for the beginning and end, most of the route is immersed in dense spruce forest, cool even on this sunny August day. Not much traffic, though we did have a blockage from a logging truck parked in the road while loading. The driver backed up the hill a bit (no mean feat with a loaded truck towing a trailer) and the 2 waiting cars squeezed by on the narrow edge of the precipice.
Around 1400 meters the forest became less dense and eventually opened into steep meadows with cows clanking bells. Pavement ends around 1500m, but I continued up the strada sterata up to 1630m. Lovely panorama here. With a mountain bike you can continue to the Strada delle Vette, and either descend to Sella Valcalda (Ravascletto) or traverse to the end of the road ascending from Comeglians to Monte Crostis.
I descended slowly, gripping my brakes as the road is too twisty to safely build up speed. The pavement is generally good, but there are some bad craters that could crash you if you hit them too fast. Back in Cercivento I finally released the brakes and pedaled back to Arta Terme fast as possible to rewarm my legs.
|Monte Zoncolan, left, above the ski area|
|View south down valley of Torrente But from 1400m|
|Looking east up the valley of Torrente Chiarsò|
|Headwaters of Torrente But to the northeast|
|Timau on road to Passo Monte Croce Carnico and Austria|
|Monte Coglians (2780m) to north|
|Mt Arvenis, left, and Mt Zoncolan, right|
|Looking down at Pian delle Streghe from 1630m|
|Little waterfall falling from Monte Tenchia (1884m)|
|Cows with clanking bells having lunch|
|Wood carving of the strega. Like the hat.|
|University of Udine experimental herb garden; not sure what |
these big yellow flowers are nor what herb they produce
|Pieve di San Martino at Cercivento|
Altimetria from www.salite.ch
|The climb satellite view|