Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sveta Gora

 Across the border in Slovenia Sveta Gora rises steeply from the Soča River, with a beautiful sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna at the top. Pilgrims from around the world come to visit.  I decided to start my pilgrimage on the Italian border at Venco, south of Cividale.  This is a wonderful area of rolling hills covered in vineyards, with slightly taller hills topped by little towns and castles.  I rode through Neblo, Dobrovo, Šmartno, Hum and Podsabotin.  I haven't been riding as much as usual the past month, and I felt it on these little hills.  After Podsabotin you enter an odd area where the Yugoslav road crosses a bulge in the Italian border.  Seems strange now but in the Iron Curtain days this was heavily guarded to prevent escape to the West.  The road climbs part way up the flank of Monte Sabotin here, with some 12% stretches.  I considered aborting the climb up Sveta Gora- I felt very out-of-shape.   But the fast descent down to the Soča River revived me, so I decided to try.

After crossing the river at Solkan I headed up the road toward Sveta Gora.  Not too bad at first but after the turn off for Lokve at 320 meters the road gets very steep.  In the next 2.7 km you gain 362 meters, averaging 13.4% with a few hundreds meters at 18-20%.  I stood and panted till I couldn't continue,  then stopped to catch my breath a few times.  At the top the views were great, despite the cloudy day.   A nice Slovenian guy offered to take my picture.  The descent was fast of course, followed by all those rolling hills.  I was beat but very happy to get a ride despite our November rains and wind.  Must come back and explore Monte Sabotin, which was a WW I battlefield and has several bike trails. 

Fresco of the 3 Wise Men in a chapel along the climb

It's steep

View to northwest toward Triglav

Looking northeast (maybe toward Čepovan?) 

Sveta Gora's bell tower

A kind Slovenian guy took my picture

Monte Sabotin to southwest

The facade of the sanctuary

City of Solkan with the Adriatic Sea in the distance 

The bridge in foreground is the longest stone arch in Europe

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