Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Castelmonte and Torrente Judri

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
smooth bark 

Wider angle view

Vineyards along the Judri looking toward Slovenia

Il Roncal vineyard


  1. I just found your blog today after following your link that you put into a post on Roadbikereview. Your blog site is amazing, partially because you blog about the exact roads that I spent nearly 5 years cycling from Spring 1994 through November 1998. I was stationed at Aviano Airbase as a U.S. Air Force member and lived in Montereale Valcellina. I spent my first summer there (1994) cycling all over the place on the Cannondale 3.0 road bike that I brought with me from the USA. That first September, I made my way down to Treviso and bought a new Pinarello Gavia w/8-Speed Chorus Ergo group and proceeded the ride the wheels off of that bike all over the exact roads that your blog covers. My favorite route of all that I think I rode the most: Passo Rest via Maniago & Tramonti. Though I always had a decision to make at the top: turn around for a 3.5 hour ride or descend to Ampezzo and deal with a 6 hour ride. I usually turned around and maybe added a few smaller climbs on the way home like crossing the pass between Tramonti and Lake Barcis on the way home.

    I still have that Pinarello, it is still my favorite bike, Fruili is still my favorite cycling area in the entire world, and I still constantly scheme ways to try and return there someday. I'm jealous!!

    Dan Keeler
    Ramstein, Germany (not a bad cycling area itself...but its not Friuli.)

  2. Glad to hear you enjoyed the riding here. I concur on Monte Rest- it's a wonderful climb. My favorite return route is via Sella Chiampon, but it's longish as you mentioned and I don't ride it often.

    I wasn't riding much at the time but while stationed at Spangdahlem from 1982-85 I did a few rides in the Eifel region. Very pretty!

    I'll go check out your Gavia on RBR- sounds nice.