Back in July this year I visited the northern Italian region of Friuli Venezia-Giulia for the first time; here’s what I found.
The town of Tarvisio is the last stop in the extreme northeast of the country, and is wedged in between the borders with Austria and Slovenia. Being where it is, and the area having changed hands several times over the centuries, there’s a distinctive mix of Romance, Germanic and Slavic influences that can be seen everywhere.
This was my first time seeing the Alps, and I have to say that I was not disappointed. The first day was spent exploring the town itself and the local area, including a cycle path that’s part of a route from Germany to the Adriatic sea.
The nearby Laghi di Fusine made for a particularly stunning visit, with the brightest, most saturated colours I have seen in a long time.
The next stop was the Orrido dello Slizza gorge, which has a very well-made path following the Slizza river, with wooden platforms, rock tunnels as well as protection to keep the gorge’s walls intact. It is a steep ascent and descent to access, however, with some very high steps in places. The whole area is just enchanting.
Being so close to Austria and Slovenia, it made sense to take a look across the border. I decided to try the mountain road up to Mangart peak in Slovenia as the views from the top look stunning, and as it overlooks the Laghi di Fusine I thought it was worth trying a different view of the area I was exploring.
So with Covid entry form and Slovenian phrasebook in hand I set out for Mangart, only to find that the road was blocked by a rockslide. Never mind, it can wait until next time; instead I went for a wander around the lower reaches of the valley and got a couple of nice shots out of it. This side of the mountain is particular impressive and has a great profile. In the end, a successful scouting trip!
The whole region impresses, with a real sense of wildness in the forests, and that lovely grey limestone and dolomite rock contrasts beautifully with the greens and blues everywhere. Some of the valleys are particularly majestic.
Preparing for this trip, I brought three lenses; my Canon EF 17-40mm f/8L USM for the wide-angle shots, Tamron Adaptall-2 70-210mm f/3.8-4 for long-distance and details, and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM for more specific opportunities, like night time shots. These are my current go-to lenses for each set of focal lengths, and I knew I’d have to take all three on a trip where I’d have a variety of scenes and situations to photograph, otherwise I’d usually pare it down to two lenses. It’s a fair amount of weight all together with tripod and everything else, so sturdy boots are a must on trips like these.
The only other important items are my Cokin neutral density filters for doing long exposures of the rivers and at the lakes. I also have a polarising filter which stays on each lens, just in case.
The last day started with a trip to the Monte Lussari sanctuary to enjoy the views. From up there you can see Mangart and the Slovenian mountains to the east and the line of Alps that make up the border with Austria to the north.
After a cool northern Italian beer to accompany the views in the midday heat, a quick trip to see this 80-metre high waterfall finished my little exploration of Friuli Venezia-Giulia very nicely.
I daresay I’ll have to visit again.