Welcome to the Winter Wonderland of Friuli Venezia Giulia
If Santa Klaus ever decided to move to Italy, he would choose Val Bartolo, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, as headquarter.
What you will read in this post:
Why is Val Bartolo special and why you should visit it
Val Bartolo is a long and narrow valley enclosed between Italy and Austria. Cozy wooden mountain huts stud the delicate and grassy slopes and mankind blends with nature. Life is so peaceful here that’s easy to imagine gnomes and elves living here. Or even Santa Klaus.
Let me be honest. If you ever decided to visit Friuli-Venezia Giulia Val Bartolo won’t figure among the first suggestions. Yet, if you’re a passionate hiker and you’re interested in a stroller-proof trek, Val Bartolo is perfect. Or, if you visit Friuli-Venezia Giulia in winter, the valley is perfect to snowshoe off the main routes.
That’s precisely what Stefano and I did at the beginning of December. We were looking for an easy trek to avoid big crowds (it’s Covid-time folks!). We both had visited Val Bartolo in the summer season but never with snow. Besides, this sweet valley in far northeastern Italy was perfect to start trekking again after two weeks of lockdown.
The difference in altitude is only 400 meters (1312 feet) if you walk the valley’s whole length to Austria. But really, having Val Bartolo only one way in and one way out, it’s up to you to decide when to go back.
How to reach Val Bartolo
The closest highway exit to visit Val Bartolo is the A23 exit of Tarvisio. From there, you follow directions towards Camporosso and then Val Bartolo.
To fully enjoy this trekking experience in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, I recommend you park in Camporosso and proceed on foot (although the full round trip is almost 15 km). In the summer, you can drive the first 5 km and park at the only restaurant in the valley “La Baita di Beatrice” (Beatrix’s Hut).
How is the Val Bartolo trail?
We don’t mind walking and we thus ventured on this trekking on foot, with snowshoes fastened to our backpacks.
We’re welcomed by the Bartolo stream which gives the name to the valley. Rio Bartolo’s babbling is a constant companion that guides us along the paved road, buried in snow. Our path slots between rocky and steep slopes. As we walk, we search for familiar details in vain. The snowfall that hit Friuli Venezia Giulia at the beginning of December transformed this valley. Everything seems altered and unusual. At least to our eyes.
We miss the climbing wall, and we are unable to spot the ancient war bunkers. We just march on, lost in the damp and brisk mist.
Winter Wonderland in FVG
When I was younger and longed to escape Friuli-Venezia Giulia if someone had asked me to describe my ideal Winter Wonderland I would’ve answered. “That’s in London, Hyde Park!“
Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I crave quality and reality with no frills. My Winter Wonderland is now here, right in front of me. In Friuli-Venezia Giulia is not made of foam and treetops bend under thick snow caps. The glacial air grazes our skin but we stare with marveled eyes at the landscapes ahead.
Such snowfalls are rare nowadays. Many see this outburst of snow like sheer bad luck, considering the lockdowns and the closed ski resorts but I see it as a lesson from Mother Nature. Maybe we should all let nature breathe and start living it as it is, with no frills, as said.
I’m glad that only a few people are willing to walk this long, for those who are can experience nature in a unique way.
After 4 km, we walk past “La Baita di Beatrice” and step out of the woods, we also leave behind the fog. We step then into the sun and Val Bartolo reveals its delicate beauty.
We’re the firsts to swim in this snow-ocean. We wear our snowshoes and, as the sun kisses our faces, we pant making our way through the thick snow. The mountain huts stud the diamond-white fields and I daydream about the day when I’ll own one. It’s almost impossible to imagine that most of the huts were once frugal barns.
Instead of tiring, me and Stefano are recharged by the pleasant view.
We keep trekking until we spot a yellow sign. We reach Austria and we know it’s time to go back. We retrace our own steps and feel blessed for such a marvelous day.
When you should visit Val Bartolo
If you feel like this snow-trek it’s too much for you don’t worry, Val Bartolo is just as pretty in the summer. The best occasion for you to visit is at the end of August when Val Bartolo literally opens up and becomes an open-air festival. Each hut becomes a restaurant and serves traditional dishes from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Austria, and Slovenia. Every year “Baite Aperte” attracts thousands of foodies from all around.
In case you were wondering, yes Baite Aperte is exactly what brought us to Val Bartolo before now. And yes, we never walked till Austria because we ate so much that it would have been impossible to climb any higher.
But that’s the beauty of trekking in this unknown corner of Italy. Friuli-Venezia Giulia offers unique opportunities to mix food and wine with breathtaking and unique landscapes.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a melting pot of different cultures that have blended together over the years. Here, Italian hospitality meets Austro-Hungarian rigor and Slavish wilderness. That’s why visiting Friuli-Venezia Giulia is experiencing the best epitome of Europe.
That’s why, chances are that while staying here, you will feel at home.
- Starting Point: Camporosso, Tarvisio (UD), Italy
- Length: 15 km back and forth (9 miles)
- Difference in altitude: 400 mt (1300 feet)
- Timing: 4 hours (with snow)