A challenging mountain stage, crossing over to Slovenia and closing with a summit finish. Starting in Marano Lagunare, the route cuts across the lowlands all the way to the morainic hills around Fagagna and Majano. The stage course crosses Buja, reaches the Julian Prealps, runs past the Grotte di Villanova (a short but intense climb) and tackles the Passo di Tanamea. The route enters Slovenia through the Uccea pass, leading directly to Kobarid (Caporetto). Here, the peloton will tackle Mt. Kolovrat, ascending at nearly 10% for 10 km (with gradients easing off for a short stretch halfway up the climb). After clearing the Passo Solarie, a long false-flat down leads back to Italy, snaking through the woods. Starting in Cividale del Friuli, the peloton will tackle the closing climb to the Castelmonte sanctuary.
The final climb is approx. 7 km long, with a short downhill stretch after 2.5 km. The sharpest gradients (up to 13%) are found at the foot of the climb, and when the road starts to go up again after the fall. The roadway is wide and well surfaced. The home straight is on tarmac road.
start / finish
In Friuli, along the state road from Venice to Trieste, turning south, there is a small strip of land that has its own natural extension in a huge water basin, the Lagoon. It is closed to the sea by a coastal barrier of islands and sandy banks. This is Marano Lagunare: the last bastion of mainland before the sea.
A small and ancient village of which the first historical information dates back to 590 when it was chosen by the Patriarch of Aquileia to be the seat of “Sinodo” consequently to the Capitoline schism.
An ancient fortress of the Serenissima that was conquered during the 16th century. It is remained almost intact during the centuries in order to prove the glory and the history of this unique Venetian speaking community in land of Friuli.
A laborious and lively fishing community that is strongly linked to secular religious traditions. Every three years, on the 15th August takes place the “Festa della Triennale” in honor of the Blessed Virgin of Health and every June there is the evocative procession of “San Vio” to which local people are very attached.
Marano is a unique territory characterized by a history of thousands of years and thanks to its position “hanging” between sea and land it represented for centuries a strategic crossing point and a meeting place for different cultures.
Besides the Venetian parlance, Marano Lagunare has managed to preserve over the centuries its own culture and culinary traditions by giving value to the products of this land, of salt and brackish water, which have been the main characters of the typical dishes on the table of local people.
The undisputed king of traditional cuisine is the “Bisato in speo”, which is an eel cooked over direct fire for hours on a spit of wood and seasoned with laurel leaves and coarse salt.
This is an exclusive and unique dish in the world prepared by the fishermen of Marano, which is still present on our tables and it is dedicated to special days and guests.
Another traditional dish is the “Boretto alla Maranese”. It is a very simple course to prepare, in the past it was found typically on the tables of fishermen and it was composed by many different fish species which cannot be marketed since they were ruined during fishing. The “Molecche fritte” are famous among the shellfish, it is a well-known dish even in the Venetian lagoons. This course is made of a soft-shell crab, which is covered by a soft and velvety skin.
Even if these traditional dishes are still present on our tables, there are several courses that compose our current culinary landscape. The Marano Lagunare historic centre is plenty of restaurants, trattorias and inns where is possible to taste typical products, the tradition and find the refinement. Many renowned restaurants offer the opportunity to try raw seafood fished on site or sold in the local fish market, which is the biggest one for fresh fish in Friuli Venezia-Giulia and one of the largest in northern Italy. In addition to fresh fish, local restaurants offer several types of bivalve mollusks. Both raw and cooked “fasolari” have become increasingly famous on local tables and they are used in kitchens with “vongole veraci”, “peverasse” (clams) and “capesante” (scallop) in order to prepare different dishes raging from sauces for pasta, to gratins and other more refined recipes.
The surrounding area of Marano Lagunare offers several soils for vine cultivation and it is rich in wineries, which are also valuable. Since the territory is included in the landscape of the area DOC “Friuli Annia” is very well suited to the cultivation of the vine thanks to the climate which is always ventilated during the summer and mild in winter with average annual temperatures of 13-15 degrees.
It is a unique land where the lagoon comes close to the vines, which sometimes are planted inside the fishing valleys that run along the lagoon boundary. Thanks to the adaptation to the particular territory, the vines plunge their roots in the clay soil with high salinity giving a characteristic, unique and original taste to the wine produced.
The first vines of this territory were planted by Romans as it is shown by the finds of amphorae to contain and transport wine, which were found in the lagoon and in many bordering archaeological sites. An important discovery of the past is a headstone that took back the memory of a Roman centurion and the battles fought with the comrades praising the amorous adventures and hearty meals accompanied by the optimum vinum di Marianum. This is a great proof of the high regard of the wine grown by the vines near the Marano garrison.
The name of the DOC comes from the ancient Via Annia that was built in 131 BC and it linked Aquileia to Concordia Sagittaria by passing through the plain of the current Bassa Friulana and flanking the lagoon and the area of Marano Lagunare. Even during the period of the patriarchate, the presence of the vine was as relevant as during the Napoleonic era.
In this territory, the wine-making combines tradition and innovation in a unique mix and creates great white wines as the Chardonnay, the Malvasia Istriana, the Pinot Bianco and Grigio, the Sauvignon, the typical Friulano (it was Tocai in the past) and, to conclude, the Traminer aromatico and the Verduzzo Friulano. The gamut of the red wines is also of high importance and includes the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot and the Refosco dal peduncolo rosso.
The historic centre has the appearance of a characteristic “herringbone” pattern. The central road is called “Sinodo” from which branches off alleys and small squares.
Before entering in the main road, on the right we can find the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Health, which was consecrated in 1912 and it houses the wooden image of the Blessed Virgin of the 17th century.
Just up ahead, we can figure the Town hall that was built in 1929. Its bulk stands out in an elegant way and overlooks the square dedicated to Rinaldo Olivotto, who was the mayor of Marano in the late 19th century.
Shortly after the entrance in Sinodo Road we can see the Archaeological Museum of the Lagoon of Marano that offers the possibility to know the history of thousands of years of this unique territory. The visitor can immerse himself in an exhibition from the pre-Roman era to the contemporary one.
After that, on the left, we can find the Parish Church of San Martino. The consecration took place in 1768, however it stayed pretty the same. Inside, among paintings and holy images there is a pipe organ, that is a work of a famous Venetian organ maker.
Then, after about ten meters, we are in the heart of the old town, in the central square called “Granda” that is dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II. This is what remains of the ancient patriarchal and Venetian fortress after the disappearance of the walls (today there is only the Bastion of Sant Anthony and two short and adjacent sections). Here, we can figure the symbol of Marano, the Tower called “Millenaria” that dominates with its 32 meters high. On the sides are walled images and celebratory inscriptions of Venetian Superintendents, on the eastern side there is the head of the Lion of Saint Mark. The Loggia is adjacent and dates backs to the 15th century.
Across the square there is the Palace of the Provveditori, which was the seat of the ancient rulers and it was built in the 15th century, when Marano passed under the Venetian control.
Along the last meters of Sinodo Road the visitor can finally see the port of Marano and on the left stands out the “Vecia Pescaria”. It was built at the end of the 19th century and it is one of the Marano symbols since it represents the economic life and activity on the sea. It worked until the nineties and today it is still a place to round up.
By visiting the lagoon environment, we can find the breathtaking natural realities as the Regional nature reserve “Foci dello Stella”, which has a great naturalistic value and is one of the most peculiar and distinctive environments of the entire regional lagoon area. The protected zone has an area of 1377 hectares.
Returning to the village, we can continue our naturalistic journey between the Grotari and Vulcan Valleys that are two small fishing valleys that were spontaneously reborn after the cessation of fish farming.
Adjoining to the historic centre is located the “Valle Canal Novo” natural reserve, which is constituted by a former valley and some arable lands. There was created the lagoon visitor center, an innovative and pilot project in the national landscape for conservation and environmental use.
Last but not least, there are the buildings symbol of the lagoon, “casoni maranesi”, that are still faithful to tradition with their typical construction covered in reed.
This is Marano Lagunare, with its history that is created between the alleys and ancient monuments, with the charm of its lagoon and the fish at zero mile.
Santuario di Castelmonte
Prepotto is an Italian town with just over 700 inhabitants in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Among the largest municipalities in the province of Udine, its 34 neighbourhoods cover a surface of 34.24 km². It borders for 15 km with Slovenia coinciding with the Judrio stream, which was the border between the Republic of Venice and Austria with the Treaty of Worms of 1521.
The borderland has a particularly interesting history, a perfect synthesis of cultures and populations that have animated this area of Friuli.
The orography of the municipal area is rather complete. Flat plains and mountainous areas alternate creating a unique landscape, rich in flora and wild fauna.
The pride of the Prepotto area is the Schioppettino, a native vine born right in the Judrio Valley that is part of the Ribolla family. This small town famous not only for the landscape, but also for the castle and sanctuary of Castelmonte and the many farms which make Prepotto the city of wine.
Wine tourism and slow tourism are well-founded pillars of the village’s economy.
The cuisine of Prepotto as a borderland has been strongly influenced by history and by the exchange with neighbouring populations, becoming a fusion. In particular, the two culinary traditions that have most influenced it, like all Friulian cuisine, are Slavic on the one hand and the Austro-Hungarian on the other.
Prepotto’s cuisine therefore shares most of the dishes we encounter in the rest of the Natisone Valleys and the Friulian plain.
It is a cuisine which reuses the ingredients, one of its symbolic dishes is undoubtedly the frico, which is prepared using the scraps and remains of Friulian cheeses, mixing them with potatoes and onions.
The white or yellow cornmeal polenta is very significant, it accompanies every traditional dish, while the toc ‘in braideaaccompanies a cream of Friulian cheeses or a sausage ragù.
Soups are highly important, including bean and potato soup which require long cooking and preparation. Among the first courses there is no shortage of homemade pasta cut in the shape of tagliatelle or blecs, or irregular squares in addition to potato, spinach or pumpkin gnocchi in Autumn. With a contrasting flavour we find at the end of summer the potato gnocchi stuffed with plums, a unique and delicious dish that represents well the melting pot of traditions. In spring we find dishes with wild herbs, in particular risotto with “sclopit” (Silene) or “ruscolins” (wild asparagus) and omelette with “urticions” (wild hops).
The most used meat is certainly pork. In the past, home-reared pigs provided the family with meat and fat throughout the year. Like the rest of Friuli, the municipality of Prepotto boasts a very rich heritage of traditional cured meats. One of the best known sausages is the “musetto” (muzzle) which takes its name from the animal’s face. It is almost a ritual food at Christmas and the New Year, which is served together with another symbol of Friulian cuisine that has received DOP protection, the brovada: turnips soured by a long fermentation under the pomace of grapes to red berry. With the meat dishes there is no shortage of beef, game and poultry, especially chicken and rabbits.
Prepotto extends into the valley of the Judrio river, therefore among the traditional cuisine we find trout and, once upon a time, crayfish.
One of the more typical desserts is the Gubana, from the Slovenian “Guba” or “fold” due to its shape; is a dessert made from raised dough with a filling of dried fruit, all embellished with grappa.
If Friuli Venezia Giulia is the best known Italian region for the production of quality white wines, Schioppettino stands out as the autochthonous red grape variety capable of rivaling the white ones. Especially in the territory of Prepotto and in the Judrio Valley, as recognized by the “Schioppettino di Prepotto” classed in the sub-area of the “Friuli Colli Orientali” DOC, this area is specifically reserved for wine made from grapes of the same name. A method oriented around a production of uncompromised quality establishes that the vineyards must produce a maximum of 1.55 kg of grapes per vine and that the harvest is carried out manually.
Aging is mandatory in wooden barrels for at least 12 months and must be placed on the market no earlier than September of the second year following the harvest. Due to the spicy aromatic characteristics, the wine is a notably typical, which derives from the unique relationship between climate and soil that’s created in the Judrio valley. But it’s not only the terroir that makes wine unique: the winemaker too must be able to interpret the language of the earth, transforming it into unmistakable fragrances, flavours and colours. This is how, in the glass, the Schioppettino of Prepotto reveals its authenticity: intense ruby red, strong scent of wild berries and morello cherries and a singular and precious spicy note of pepper. Elegant and complex like the great Friulian wines, it makes versatility its strong point. It ties together meat dishes or, if aged, even game. It also manages to amaze with fish dishes or spicy meals. Historically we understand how the Schioppettino can aspire to be recognized as the most prestigious red grape of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Mentioned since the Middle Ages, the Schioppettino has been present in Prepotto for centuries, surviving the challenging events that have affected this borderland between Italian, German and Slavic agricultural traditions.
In the “Acts and memoirs of the Agricultural Society of Gorizia” of 1877 it was defined as a “delicate grape” originating from Prepotto. Poggi, in his main work dedicated to Friulian viticulture in 1939, described it as a vine “grown almost exclusively in the hills and foothills of the municipality of Prepotto. The black Ribolla, outside its optimum environment, even at a distance of a few kilometers, gives a wine that no longer possesses those peculiar characteristics that make it prized in that of Prepotto with the local name of Schioppettino “. In spite of this, it was almost disappearing until 1977, when the municipal council of Prepotto approved the request that it be included in the list of authorized vines in 1981. Two years later, the European Community included it among their recommended vines for the province of Udine. By 1987 it had obtained the designation of origin.
Today the Giro d’Italia arrives in the municipality of Prepotto, in the province of Udine, and makes a stop in the probably most renowned locality of the area, a religious symbol for the people who live in these places.
We find ourselves in the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine of Castelmonte. This would be the title for most Italians, whereas it’s referred to as “Madone di mont” for the Friulian people and “Stara gora” for the Slovenian people who still live on both sides of the border. It is located in the far north-eastern part of Italy and is a significant historic place of transit for all the communities who wanted to see the Adriatic Sea, invading our territories in the process. Castelmonte was born from a castelliere, a sort of fortified protohistoric village. They are always placed in an elevated position to keep an eye on their surrounding territory and self-defend from the raids of the neighbouring communities. It was then a fortified Roman camp belonging to the Claustra Alpium Iuliarum. Its transformation into a Christian chapel and then into a fortified church dates back to 1200, when beyond the Madonna there was the cult of St. Michael the Archangel. Successively it was desired by the Hungarians, by the Gothic and Ostrogoths, by the Lombards, even by the Turks. Napoleon also arrived there in 1797, who stripped the sanctuary of almost all its possessions. Under the Austro-Hungarian Empire it was also a municipal seat until 1870. From 1913 the power passed from the locals, who were at the time of a certain Slavic descent, to the Capuchin friars of Veneto. Today it is a very popular place of worship, which attracts worshippers from the nearer Triveneto region, but also from Austria and Slovenia. They come to place ex votos and ask for grace from the black Madonna with her child, from the Salzburg artistic sphere.
Other places of religious interest are the churches of the various hamlets of the Municipality, of the Friulian and Slovenian design. The one of S. Bartolomeo Apostolo in Ciubiz stands out for its artistic interest, for the ribbed vault with anthropomorphic bas-reliefs and the wooden statue of the Madonna with her child from the 16th century. The altarpiece boasts the Adoration of the Magi in the small “church of the Three Magi above Prepotischis.” The church of SS. Pietro e Paolo in Centa contains a gilded two-tiered Slovenian wooden altar; while the small church of S. Pietro Apostolo and S. Paolo in Chiazzacco have recently well-restored frescoes from the end of the 15th century. In the church of S. Antonio Abate in Oborza, you can see a wooden crucifix that bears the date of 24 May 1915, when the Italian infantrymen crossed the Judrio river, which for many centuries has always been a border between several conflicting territories. They went on to climb Mount Corada which had previously been abandoned by the Imperial Royal Austro-Hungarian Army.
A notable example of fortified architecture is the privately owned Gabrici castle in Albana, which was previously owned by the Counts of Gorizia, just like we find on the right bank of the Judrio river which has belonged to the Kingdom of Italy since 1866.
An example of rural architecture is the open village of Berda, renovated after the 1976 earthquake in theme with stylistic and environmental unity in mind.
In the municipality of Prepotto there are significant points of worthy naturalistic interest. In addition to the prudent management of the territory, which is preciously balanced between wild and man-made areas, there are two interesting villages. The first is the Bosco del Romagno, established back in the Lombard period, which has been maintained by the production of wine, then used by the Italian army until 1950 before becoming a recreational park, shared with the areas of Cividale del Friuli and Corno di Rosazzo. The other is the Rio della Madonna valley which descends directly from Castelmonte into the narrow Marcolino gorge, with large terraces which were once cultivated. The stream flows into the Judrio river and presents an outcrop of calcareous streams, pools and waterfalls , all adding to the considerable landscape of hydro-geological interest. On its valley floor there is an ancient bridge that is referred to as the Roman Bridge by most, but which was most likely built by the Italian military during the First World War.
Given its historical and naturalistic qualities, the area is very popular not only by hikers, but also by cyclists and horse riders. So much so that four famous cycle routes are found here: the Sentiero Italia, the Alpe Adria Trail, the Cammino Celeste and the Via dei Monti Sacri. These are enriched every summer with alternate routes, sometimes based on picking edible herbs, enabling the cyclists to experience the pleasant tastes at the end of a ride in one of the many farmhouses located throughout the area.