Hiking on the three nations peak
If there’s a location that has the power to unite hikers, skiers, pilgrims, and food lovers, that’s Monte Lussari.
What you will read in this post:
Why you should visit Monte Lussari in winter
Even if you don’t like hiking or skiing if you’re in Friuli-Venezia Giulia a trip to Monte Lussari is highly recommended.
Monte Lussari, Tarvisio, is one of the most iconic places in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Chances are that even if you’ve never heard of my region, you’ve seen a picture of Monte Lussari and its shrine. Among others, it was also featured on the login page of Microsoft Windows 10.
This 1790-meter-high mount, located right on the border with Austria and Slovenia, is beyond famous and beloved in the area. A 15-minute-long cable car ride connects the parking lot of Camporosso with the top.
On any normal winter, Monte Lussari si packed with skiers. But this is not a normal year, plus I can’t ski, therefore the reason I go to Monte Lussari is for hiking (and eating).
If you’re a hiker, I’m sure that the Pilgrim’s trail will leave you highly satisfied. It’s one of those trails that you hate while climbing but you love in retrospect. To be honest, if I were to use the cable car to climb my way up, it would feel like cheating.
The view and the satisfaction you feel near the cross is unrepayable.
The Pilgrim’s Trail, an easy hike to test your breath
The “Pilgrim’s Trail” (il Sentiero del Pellegrino) is the most famous path to the shrine. Just like the cable car, it connects Camporosso with the tip of Monte Lussari. The only difference is that on foot it takes 4 kilometers, almost 1000 meters of elevation gain, and 2,30 hours. If you do the Pilgrim’s Trail, either someone has tricked you into it, or you love hiking. I hope you’re here for the latter reason.
For me, the trail represents a hiking challenge. The path has no perilous traits and difficulties except the elevation gain and that’s why for me Pilgrim’s Trail is the perfect test to evaluate my progress as a hiker.
This was my third time on the Pilgrim’s Trail. Physically, I felt better than ever but it took us three hours to reach the top. Why? Because the landscape was spectacular. We stopped many times along the way to take pictures, but also to admire the lands around us, let the beauty of nature sink in, and feel grateful for the marvelous day.
The Pilgrim’s trail from Camporosso with light crampons
And so, we start climbing. It takes less than a hundred meters to warm up and to understand that this time the hike would be like no other before. It’s Friday (yeah, we took a day off) and there’s no one around. It’s almost like having Narnia to ourselves. Trees are crystallized in an icy-white cocoon. Stefano has ice in his beard. Whenever we stop and turn around to admire the snowy view it feels like the first time here.
As we proceed protruded forward to ease the effort, with the corner of the eye, we glimpse at the antenna near the top of Monte Lussari which allows us to check how far we’ve come.
Halfway, we spot the first station of the cross buried in snow. This is a Pilgrims’ trail, after all. Normally, stations are a constant presence during the hike, but this time we hardly spot them in the snow. That’s not too bad, because from there on the forest offers us its best show. We slow our pace; we lift our heads up and gaze ecstatically at the snow-capped trees. Above us, the chairlift hangs still with snow as the only passenger.
When it’s less than half an hour to the top, we are redirected to the close slopes. The trail would normally proceed through the thick of the woods but this year there’s too much snow. Our breath is once again taken away. The slopes are steep and harder to climb but the view pays for all the efforts. The more we climb, the more the trees disappear from our sight revealing the landscape around us. We even spot Cappella Zita. Finally, we reach the summit and we let our eyes wander around the 360° view.
We descend to the shrine, also buried in snow, and contemplate the beauty of this mountain church. Snow has completely modified the shape of the little hamlet around Lussari. It’s almost like buildings and snow formed a narrow trench that emanates a strong Christmas vibe.
Finally, three hours after the beginning of our hike we sit for lunch.
The Monte Lussari shrine: the church that brings three nations together
The shrine dates back to the 14th century when the Patriarch of Aquileia ordered its building. The local legend says that a shepherd found a statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus while grazing his flock on top of Monte Lussari. The shepherd brought the statue to the priest of Camporosso but the following day he once again found the statue on the top of Monte Lussari. The same routine repeated for a couple of days more and the patriarch ordered the building of the shrine.
The current building was built much later, but the folklore lives on.
The shrine is now a symbol of unity and peace among the three populations of the area. Before the Coronavirus, the mass was recited in Italian, German, and Slovenian on a regular basis.
Is it better to hike on Monte Lussari in winter or summer?
I’ve always visited Monte Lussari in winter and always with snow. I’m a winter-person and I don’t think I could stand such a steep path with summer’s heat. Moreover, the trail is covered with slippery pebbles, so if you’re well equipped with light crampons or snowshoes, the climb is much easier with snow.
After eating Gulaschsuppe and Tagliatelle with boar-ragù, we’re not in the condition to hike back to the car. Luckily for us, the cableway is still running. The descent trip is 10 euros, I guess comfort is what you pay for, y’all.
- Starting Point: Camporosso, Tarvisio, Italy
- Length: 8 km if you hike your way back (5 miles)
- Difference in altitude: 700 mt (3117 feet)
- Timing: 2.30/3 hours (with snow)
- Motorway exit to visit Monte Lussari: From A4 Venezia-Trieste, take A23 and head towards Tarvisio. You can use the parking lot near the cableway of Camporosso
Where to sleep:
- Hotel Il Cervo
Where to eat:
- Alte Hütte
- La baita dei sapori
- I dolci di Irma