Castelmonte is a sanctuary/fortress between Cividale and Slovenia. At 618 meters it's visible for miles from surrounding valleys and mountains. Like Monte Grappa there are many routes of ascent, and you can try a different one on every visit. Since today was a holiday (Tuttisanti) I thought the main road from Cividale might be crowded with pilgrims and visitors, so I decided to take the backroad from near Albana.
I parked by a lovely vineyard/villa (Il Roncal at 130m) and headed through a gently rising forest. Very pleasant. Then around 6 km it started to get steep- definitely felt above 13% at points (GPS was blocked by the mountain so not sure). This mellows after awhile and you resume with beautiful autumn forest riding. Eventually at 7.5 km you join the main road coming up from Cividale and soon reach the sanctuary. On a bike or on foot you can continue up the pavement to the top of the hill. It was hazy but I could still make out snowy Monte Canin to the north, Monte Matajur to the east and many surrounding hillside towns.
From here I descended on the road toward Valli del Natisone briefly until the right turnoff to Podresca. Now you ascend a bit up to 627 meters, then start a long descent down through the woods to Podresca, on Torrente Judri and the Slovenian border. This is a beautiful little hidden valley between two heavily forested ridges, mostly uninhabited upstream, but soon decorated with patches of vineyard on the widening river plain. By the time you reach Albana the vineyards are quite expansive. Here you turn onto the road for Cividale, which turns away from the river, ascends slightly into the forest, and returns to the area of vineyards were I began the ride. Lovely place- I'll try to get back often.
|Red orange yellow green foliage|
|Castelmonte's sumac-covered walls|
|A gate to keep invading infidels out|
|Can you tell I liked the sumac?|
|Not sure what sort of tree this- berries and braided-looking|
|Wider angle view|
|Vineyards along the Judri looking toward Slovenia|
|Il Roncal vineyard|