Sant’Agnese loop trail
Hiking to Sella Sant'Agnese from Gemona: an hike to always keep in mind when visiting Friuli Venezia Giulia
The hike from Gemona to Sella Sant’Agnese and the small village which bears the same name is one of those hikes to always keep in mind when visiting Friuli Venezia Giulia. Easy, panoramic, close to the plain, feasible at any time of the year, even with children. It is the kind of hike to do when you feel like moving your legs but you don’t want to overdo it. Or when you want to wake up late and relax.
The hike to Sella Sant’Agnese starts from Ospedaletto, a hamlet of Gemona del Friuli.
To get to Ospedaletto, drive towards Gemona (you can also take the motorway A23 Gemona exit). Then take the SS13 state road and turn right into Via Turiesello. At a certain point, you will arrive in Largo Beorcje, at the intersection with Via Cjamparis street. In this area, you can search for parking.
Where to park
You can park near Largo Beorcje, as we did, in via Cjamparis near the Firehouse and Ai Pioppi tavern.
The path that leads to Sella Sant’Agnese develops as a loop trail, so there are two possible starting points:
- Via da Fornâs: starting the trail from Via da Fornâs has the advantage of reducing the elevation gain up to the little church of Sant’Agnese. In this sense, moreover, the trail signs are better positioned and make the climb easier. If, on the other hand, you decide to do the whole loop trail, once you arrive in the little hamlet, you will still have some climbing to do. I recommend this climb if you have children and want to take them on a nice picnic.
- Via Monte Ercole: if you start from Via Monte Ercole the whole climb is at the beginning of the hike and once in the hamlet you can relax. At the same time, the path to go down is more confusing (if you choose the forest road, everything is fine).
The details below refer to the ascent from Via Monte Ercole.
The hike to the hamlet of Sant’Agnese can be divided into three parts:
- From Ospedaletto to the Fort of Monte Ercole
- From the Fort of Monte Ercole to Sella di Sant’Agnese
- From Sella Sant’Agnese to Ospedaletto
From Ospedaletto to the Fort of Monte Ercole
The hike starts from Via Monte Ercole on an asphalted and not very steep road. After a few minutes, we see the first gem of the excursion: the Minisini lake which we leave on the left.
After crossing the lake, we reach a crossroads where we turn right onto Via Monte Ercole and begin the climb on the military cart track.
In about 15/20 minutes we arrive at the Fort of Monte Ercole.
The Fort of Monte Ercole
The Fort of Monte Ercole (or Ospedaletto) was part of the defensive complex of the Upper Tagliamento like the nearby forts of Osoppo and Monte Festa. It was built in the early 1900s to control Sella Foredor between mount Cuarnan and mount Chiampon.
During the retreat of Caporetto, the fort was not used and at the end of October 1917, an order was given to blow it up so that it did not fall into Austrian hands.
Despite everything, the Fort of Monte Ercole is still well preserved and is one of the most significant places for the Great War in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
If you like to visit sites related to the two world wars, you might also like the walk to Pinzano al Tagliamento.
From the Fort of Monte Ercole to Sella di Sant'Agnese
After the fort of Monte Ercole, the cart track continues and the most sloping section of the entire hike begins.
Along the way, there are many glimpses of the surrounding plains and mountains. If the climb seems tough and you want to take advantage of the view to rest, know that there are also comfortable walls to sit on.
The only point where you need to pay attention if you go in winter is the short tunnel of Sella di Sant’Agnese. You may find ice on the ground.
Sella Sant'Agnese and Cret da Câgne Belvedere
When the path enters the woods, know that the climb is (almost) over. At this point, you can take a small detour to the Cret da Câgne viewpoint. You will find a truly romantic and secluded spot from which to admire the plain.
Back on the main road, the trail proceeds up to the edge of the wood. Then the view opens onto the valley. Below, you can already see the village of Sant’Agnese and all around the mountains are spectacular. Before arriving at the village you can make a second detour to the viewpoint of Monte Cumieli. You will find the signs on the left.
The little church of Sant'Agnese
For being such a small church, Sant’Agnese has quite a respectable history. It is said that it stands on the remains of an old pagan time and that, in pre-Roman times, it was located on one of the most important communication routes that came from Austria.
The Monastery and part of the defensive system of the Upper Tagliamento, the church of Sant’Agnese was also the filming location of some scenes of “The Great War“, the film by Monicelli with Alberto Sordi and Vittorio Gassman.
Both the church and the adjoining monastery were destroyed in the 1976 earthquake and are being restored since 2019.
Returning to Ospedaletto
If you decide to go down the trail instead of the forest road, know that going down it becomes more confusing.
At first, the trail to follow is quite clear: as forest road descends the trail intersects it to “cut” the hairpin bends. Then things get more complicated.
The main trail branches off into a maze of smaller paths and a second, higher forest road appears on the left. Don’t take the latter into consideration as it would take you to Gemona and keep going down. In this case, you should download the GPS track you find above or point the navigator towards Via da Fornâs. You will understand that you are on the right path when you see the old dilapidated furnace in the thick of the woods.
Via da Fornâs will take you back to the Firehouse area and then to via Cjamparis.
Why you should do this hike to Sant'Agnese
Because it is a simple walk that satisfies everyone a little.
Those who love history will find the remnants of the war. Those who love beautiful views will find them going up or from the Cret da Câgne viewpoint. Those who love the highest mountain will love it near the church because from the valley you can’t see the plain and you have the feeling of being in a remote valley among the mountains. Those who are simply looking for a place to have a nice picnic will be equally satisfied.
Although the location is very suitable, unfortunately, there are not many tables and areas equipped for outdoor dining. I recommend that you bring a nice blanket.