Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ciclovia Alpe Adria

Ciclovia Alpe Adria is a bikeway running from Salzburg, Austria to Grado on the Adriatico.  I decided to ride the lower section of it today.  I planned on starting at Palmanova (a Renaissance fortress) but when I arrived it was raining so I continued further south until it was dry.   From Terzo d'Aquileia I rode down the smooth bike path to Aquileia, a Roman provincial capital from 2nd century AD.  Took a few pictures of the Roman forum  and the civil basilica  (a government meeting hall, later converted to a Christian church).  It has some of the best Roman pavement mosaics anywhere, but today I stayed outside.

From Aquileia the ciclovia continues south to the lagoon, a body of water between the mainland and the barrier island Grado.  The causeway across the lagoon has 2 smooth bike lanes separated from the busy highway, truly wonderful.  Once I arrived on the island I headed for the historic quarter.  There are archaeological digs here, including a late-Roman Christian church with sarcophagi.  Many working fishing boats were parked along the canals.

I headed back and soon regained Terzo d'Acquileia.  I'll try to return here this Spring with MTB to visit some of the birding areas along the Marano lagoon.      

Ruins of forum, center of town life.  The sculpted faces
were part of shrines to Roman gods

Some partially restored columns

Close up of original capitals

Entrance to basilica

Roman columns on the basilica grounds

The interior from the entrance: the pavementi are a must-see 

Romanesque campanile beside basilica 

Octagonal baptistry on left 

From the causeway bike path looking toward Trieste

The church at Grado

Another angle

Ruins of early Christian church at Grado;
 the rounded apse foundation

Unearthed sarcophagi: note the Celtic cross on right

Curious house dating from the early period

Looking east along Adriatico coast

The view west toward Lignano

This place reminded me of the French Quarter

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Le Ronciade Hike

A cold but sunny, crystal clear day.   I intended to snowshoe this route, but the snow was only a couple of inches deep so I hiked instead.  From Col Alto I took the Ronciade trail to the east, where last February sled dogs were training with their musher.  The trail (a dirt road in summer) meanders through faggio forest until the junction south of Pian delle More.  Here I turned right and shortly afterward turned right again onto trail 985.  Another few hundred meters and I reached il incrocio di sentieri, where I turned right and continued on 985.  This trail rises until reaching a concrete road accessing the repeater towers above Giais.  If instead you descend on that road it carries you to Casera Valfredda, where I MTBed in October.  

I tried at first to continue on 985, but the sun-exposed section  of snow had repeatedly thawed and frozen into a downhill ice track.  I was certain to break my neck continuing that way, so I turned right and tried another wide trail, still covered with snow and heading uphill to the north.  This was excellent with 270 degree open panoramas.  At the top it died though, so I finally looked at my map and saw I had a 200-meter high slope to descend unless I turned around and retraced my steps.  I gingerly traversed back and forth down the snowy slope, using trees and boulders to keep from tumbling.  When nothing else was available I drove my trekking poles into the snow and grappled down.  Amazingly it worked.  Back on the level trail I went fast to make up time and soon arrived at the car.   

Faggio forest rising from the trail

Sun-lit beech trees

Pala Fontana (right); the reflector is visible from our rear window

Monte Ciastelat (left), Pala Fontana (right)

Looking up Valcellina at high northern peaks  

Close up of high northern peaks
Monte Cavallo Gruppo

Monte Cavallo Gruppo close-up

Monte Cavallo Gruppo close-up

Monte Cavallo Gruppo close-up

Monday, January 26, 2015

Val di Torrente Leale MTB

I drove to Alesso near Lago di Cavazzo and took off on my MTB.  The ride begins on the road to Val di Torrente Palar, which I explored last October.  Today after the steep initial climb to 520 meters I turned left onto a gravel road.  Great fun riding through the wilderness, level at first, then with many switchbacks.  Eventually I reached the first sign of civilization, Malga Amula at 750 meters.  No one there today but on weekends and in summer it's likely occupied.  

The road begins to saliscendi for a few km, dipping down to ford streams one after another until eventually I reached a much larger stream, Torrente Leale.  I forded it once, then again, and I think 2 or 3 more times before beginning to climb upward again near Malga Cuvii.  More switchbacks now ascending to 830 meters.  At a junction I could have turned right toward Malga Cuar but I was already fried.  I'll try that next time.  Today instead I continued mostly level, then descending to meet the paved road from Avasinis to Cuel di Forchia.  The paved road was fast and steep, and soon I was back at the car.  I will try next time from Cjanet or Monte Prat and try to reach the malgas up near the dorsal ridge connecting Monte Cuar and Monte Flagjel.

Stavoli di Forchia di Amula 

Malga Amula

The first ford across Torrente Leale

Monte Amariana 1905 meters

Monte Piombada 1744 meters

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Socher - Soverzene Pista Ciclabile

There's a missing link in the bikeway from Vittorio Veneto to Cortina and Auronzo.  The main road between Ponte negli Alpi and Longarone is too full of trucks and tourists' campers for bikers to safely cross the narrow bridges.  Luckily a fix is in work.  From Socher to Soverzene they're building a bikeway along the Enel electric company aqueduct.  The article I read wasn't too clear about the present state of progress, so I rode over to check it out.  

I rode down to Vittorio Veneto and over Passo di Fadalto to Lago di Santa Croce.  After getting lost at Socher (and running across some caves and an old castle ruin) I found the paved bikeway.  At the edge of town it turns to hard-packed white strada bianca, perfect for 23mm slick tires.  Before long I could see the centralina (electric distribution plant) on the bridge across the Piave River about 200-300 meters ahead.  But the bikeway ends suddenly, with construction of a causeway visible ahead.  Fortunately there's a horse trail/footpath leading to Soverzene, which is quite muddy but would be no problem for a MTB.  It also has a short tunnel, which is less than 2 meters tall, so I have no idea how horses get through.  At the end you return to pavement, and a rolling ride to Longarone.

From Longarone I climbed up to Vajont dam and  Passo di Sant'Osvaldo.  From there almost all downhill, all the way home

Mountain reflection on Lago di Santa Croce

Public fountain at Socher

Grotto Mole near Castello di San Giorgio ruin

Strada bianca bikeway by aqueduct at Socher

They are building this causeway on the Piave to complete
the final few hundred meters of the pista ciclabile

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Castello di Conegliano

Cloudy and rain-threatening until 9AM when it suddenly cleared.  I rode down through Cordignano and Godega di Sant' Urbano to Conegliano.  Here I promptly flatted: now I finally have a butyl tube on the rear.  After a brief disoriented diversion to San Vendemiano I got back on track and found the turn for the castello.  It's not too steep and has beautiful views of prosecco vineyards, foothills and Dolomiti Bellunese.  

The castle grounds are lovely and would make a nice Sunday afternoon visit.  But I had a 2 hour ride home and needed to get going.  I tried a different route from Godega di Sant'Urbano, continuing on SS13 past Sacile and then to Vigonovo.  This route is about the same length but less hilly if your legs are tired.  Avoid it on weekdays though: way too many trucks.

Next time I'll leave earlier and spend some in the prosecco vineyards of San Pietro di Feletto and the castle at Susegana.

Castello from north

Castello courtyard with church and villa

The giardino behind the castello 

A view of the giardino from the north

Close up of tower

The wall around the giardino (from the south)

The walled entryway 

Close up of Gate Tower

Lovely villa in the prosecco vineyards

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fortezza di Osoppo

Overcast with scattered showers today, but I've been getting cabin fever and had to ride.  After warming up to Pinzano I pedaled up Strada di Bottecchia past Peonis.  Turned right at the little suspension bridge to bypass Trasaghis, then crossed the long bridge over the Tagliamento.  Immediately after the bridge I turned right again toward Osoppo.  Here the flat river plain is interrupted by a 300-meter-high morainic hill with World War I fortress on top.  It's been fixed up nicely for visitors, with handrails so no one plunges from the parapets.  The panoramas would be magnificent on a clear day, but today all was whiteout.  Just before descending I noticed the rear tire went flat again.  I'm switching from latex tubes back to butyl.

Rode home via the Tagliamento bridge at Cornino.  After a little more rain and a couple hours of pedaling I was home, wet, cold, tired, but happy.  

Hiker/biker bridge north of Peonis

Swift clear water of canal 

Lovers' locks on the bridge

Artillery emplacements at fortress 

Large artillery emplacement higher up on fortress