An autumn hike in the wild heart of Carnia

Strada per Rif. Floreanini-Cimenti_Illegio

The inspiration for the Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini loop trail came from an article by Sentieri e Natura, after a brief search for the best routes to do around Illegio.

Illegio, a village in Carnia which is very dear to my heart

This village in Carnia holds a special place in my heart because set here part of the first unpublished, book I wrote.
One of the characters in the story, Pino, owns a remote hut in these woods (do you understand why I named my blog The Writer’s Mountain Hut)? This time we will not go visit Pino though. Our hike on the Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini loop trail which we will reach via the Sant’Ilario trail. We’ll return to the car in Illegio with the CAI trail nr. 433.

This autumn hike ranks among my favorites together with the loop trail to Casera Monte Buoi.

The trail to Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini

ATTENTION! THERE MIGHT BE MILITARY TRAINING 

Our starting point of the loop trail is Sterbanuzzis military polygon which is still used by the army for exercises. If the road is closed, do not venture on the loop trail and opt for the CAI Trail 433.

The landscape enclosed between the river Cornons, Lavares, and Citate is quite unique. The white stones recall the lunar soil but the low bushes towards the Citate stream look like those of an African savannah even though we’re deep in Friuli Venezia Giulia, in Carnia, and Mount Amariana looks at us majestically as we prepare to hike part of the path that leads to it..

Poligono Sterbanuzzis, partenza dell'anello verso il rifugio Cimenti Floreanini

Climbing to Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini via Sant’Ilario trail

In the first stretch of the Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini loop trail, the path is marked with red dots. Stefano and I find it hard to extricate ourselves through the paths that branch off from the polygon. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, and the providential help of the GPS, we understand that we must keep to the left and skirt the Cornons stream as much as possible. Here we find the first, threatening, written indications on the route: “Monte Amariana direttissima” (Mout Amariana direct trail). And the road really is direct indeed.

Inizio Sentiero Sant Ilario

Sentiero Sant'Ilario lungo il torrente Cornons

We literally go up the mountain without ever leaving the watercourse. While it is true that we see pretty waterfalls and a landscape that leaves you speechless, it is also true that the trekking route is exposed and in full shade making the ground wet and slippery.
I confess that I was a little afraid because I’m aware that these situations, with the unstable path and the nearby ravine, are the ones that make me panic the most. A couple of times, disconsolate. 

Pay attention to this part of the loop trail

We cross the riverbed several times, with careful eyes to not miss the path traces, and we get up quickly.
A few more minutes and finally the exposed path leaves room for a valley of beech trees where the slope is lighter and the path fits in my definition of an autumn hike. We cross the votive table dedicated to Sant’Ilario, to which this Friuli Venezia Giulia path is dedicated, and continue along a smaller stream. If it weren’t for the high temperature, walking here, it would almost seem to be on a sunny winter day when the last coppery leaves survive only on the very treetops. Below, in the undergrowth, a humid half-light reigns, and with a few degrees less it would become frost.

Into the woods

The last few meters of elevation gain are a continuous escalation of dazzling beauty. 
The crossroads that connects the Sentiero Sant’Ilario to CAI trail 443 (which leads from the hamlet to Mount Amariana) is amazing. All the hardships of the climb, all the fears are rewarded with a single glance at the landscape in front of us.
I would like this stretch of path to last forever to admire the trees and their contrast with the blue of the sky.
Hunger, however, tells us to reach the mountain hut to savor our gourmet lunch based on bread and mortadella.

Una sosta dalla camminata autunnale lungo il sentiero Sant'ilario

If on the trees there were snow instead of red leaves, we could easily find ourselves in the enchanted forest of Narnia. On the ground a carpet of rusted leaves, halfway from the sky an expanse of newborn emerald pines wedged with tall and threadlike beech trees. Unfortunately, we do not bump into fauns on our way to Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini, the destination of today’s autumn hike.

Illegio sentiero CAI 443

Arriving to Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini

Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini is the hut of my dreams. Lost in a forest, made of wood and stone, with a perfect spolert (stove in Friulan) for roasting polenta and chestnuts. I take the time to write down our names in the CAI book as well as the incipit of this story and we head down through trail 443 towards Illegio with a steep but less complicated descent.

Autunno al Rifugio Floreanini Cimenti

Why you should visit Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini in autumn

I deeply loved the surprise reserved by this autumn hike. For sure, it takes a bit of training to tackle the loop trail as we did.
The difference in height is not over-dramatic but in the first section, you need to be familiar with the bumpy paths since at times it is necessary to climb the boulders of the stream. It also takes a good eye to find all the dots and follow the path without putting yourself in further danger. If these precautions frightened you, no problem. The Mountain Hut can also be reached from Illegio by walking there along the 443.

If, on the other hand, my words have intrigued and excited you, you can descend via path 461 which also includes an assisted trail.

The only “flaw” of the ring route is that the entire path develops in the woods and there are not many opportunities to see the landscape of the peaks all around. On the other hand, this route makes it clear from the very beginning that it has a single mountain as the protagonist, the queen of Carnia which towers over Friuli Venezia Giulia with its “chipped” tip accompanies walkers along the entire route.

Hike recap to Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini

  • CAI trail: 443
  • Altitude: 1070 slm
  • Difference in altitude: +724
  • Ascent: 2h
  • Length:  11 km a / r
  • Illegio from CAI path 443Illegio from CAI path 443Bivio Sentiero CAI 443Bivio Sentiero CAI 443Sentiero CAI 443Sul Sentiero CAI 443Autumn Trekking lungo il sentiero Sant'IlarioAutumn Trekking lungo il sentiero Sant’IlarioAll'interno del Rifugio Floreanini CimentiAll’interno del Rifugio Cimenti Floreanini


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