Palcoda and Tamar: the two abandoned villages of the Val Tramontina
If you have been following me for a while, you will have guessed by now that I love abandoned villages, and the more isolated they are the better. After the walk to Stavoli di Moggio, we chose to change the area and visit Palcoda and Tamar, the two abandoned villages of the Val Tramontina.
This hike is more difficult than the walk in Stavoli, especially if you make the detour to the Pisulat Waterfall as we did, but I promise you that it will be worth it and that these villages will become one of your favorite destinations for spring hikes in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
What you will read in this post:
How to reach Palcoda and Tamar
The path that will take you to Palcoda and Tamar starts from Tramonti di Sotto. To reach Tramonti di Sotto from Udine drive west towards Spilimbergo along the SR552 regional road. Then continue towards Meduno, pass the town and continue beyond. On the left, you will find the famous lake of Redona with the old town that comes out of the waters. Shortly after, you will reach Tramonti di Sotto.
Where to park
We leave the car in piazza Cantù but you can also park in the town hall square. You will find the starting point of the trail in Via Cima Riva. You can also bring yourself closer to the starting point of the path by driving along via Cima Riva and parking along the street. Given the many various Private Property signs, we preferred not to take risks.
Hike recap and GPX track
The details below refer to the hike that we did, including the detour to the Pisulat Waterfall.
If park in the center of Tramonti di Sotto like we did, you will have all of Via Cima Riva to warm up because this stretch of paved road runs almost flat.
At a certain point, you will arrive at a crossroads marked by a CAI signpost. Going left you will go up directly to Palcoda with trail 831a, while on the right you will find the CAI trail 832 that will lead you to Tamar.
Once in Tamar, you can choose whether to follow a hunter’s trail (you can find the GPX here) or continue on the CAI 832a path which will take you down to the banks of the Chiarzò stream and then go up to Palcoda. We chose the second option with a detour to the Pisulat waterfall. In hindsight, it was not the smartest decision since the trail is not very beaten and it made us “lose” almost an hour.
In both cases, the bell tower of the church of San Giacomo, the only renovated building in the village, will guide you towards Palcoda. The return to Tramonti di Sotto is simple and direct with path 831a.
Below you will find the hike in detail with my considerations as well.
The itinerary can be divided into three parts:
- From Tramonti di Sotto to Tamar
- From Tamar to Palcoda
- From Palcoda to Tramonti di Sotto
If you want to shorten the hike in terms of times and kilometers, you can also consider doing parts 1 and 3 separately.
From Tramonti di Sotto to Tamar
I love the hikes that allow a few kilometers of warm-up before starting to climb. It’s the case of this spring walk in Val Tramontina that will take you towards Tamar and Palcoda, the prelude of which offers about a couple of kilometers on the flat, on an asphalted road. I warn you, you will be observed. Cows and goats will scrutinize you carefully as you walk towards the mountains, which intersect one behind the other like in a diorama.
The asphalted road alternates slight climbs with flat or downhill sections and takes us to the first crossroads near Torrente Tarcenò.
The CAI sign indicates that the abandoned town of Tamar is about 45 minutes away from us. We begin to climb along the stream and immerse ourselves in the woods. The climb is pleasant, it develops on a wide path and without difficulty. You may find some trees blocking the way, but they are easy to overcome.
The arrival in Tamar is heralded by dry stone walls covered with moss. Another crossroads will invite you to turn left and here you will find the first ruins.
Tamar and the Varnerin Hut
Each stone on the path is a journey back in time. The first house on the left hangs between the last vestiges of humanity and being completely swallowed up by the woods.
Continuing further, you will reach the actual village whose central nucleus is occupied by the Varnerin Bivouac. The Hut, obtained from the old houses, is equipped with everything needed for cooking and sleeping, there are flowers to decorate the balconies and a small fenced garden. At just 660 m a.s.l. Varnerin bivouac is certainly not the kind of hut that will make you feel the fear thrills to reach it, but much more than others it will give you the feeling of a real home.
If you wish or are with children you can return the excursion here and to Tramonti di Sotto retracing your own steps. Alternatively, you can also go down the forest road.
From Tamar to Palcoda
If you want to visit Palcoda too, from Tamar you have two options:
- With your back to the bivouac, follow the forest road on the left.
- Go down to the Chiarzò stream and climb up again.
In the first case, a trail of hunters will be marked on the map.
We have decided to follow the signs for Palcoda which are found near the Varnerin Shelter. From the village, the trail quickly descends towards the stream, at first then along a cobblestone path surrounded by low and pointed shrubs (Editor’s note. If you take this trip at the end of winter, you will find ice in shady spots, pay attention).
We reach the bank of the Chiarzò stream and like near Stavoli di Moggio, we find ourselves in a sort of canyon. Here the signs for Palcoda are lost and the only thing left to do is cross the stream. I must admit, it is not easy to understand which is the right way to follow, I hope my description will help you.
Cross the Chiarzò and follow it on the left for a few meters until you reach the signpost of the Pisulat Waterfall, which you can go and see if you want. If you prefer to go directly to Palcoda you have to cross the river again. To show you the way you will find only a small stone and some faded red marks on the stones.
The Pisulat Waterfall
Seeing the waterfall was not in our plans but having the above passage we visited it anyway. The trail to reach it is not difficult but very wet, which could slow you down in your movements. The view of the waterfall pays off the effort.
This was the part of the trail that put me most in difficulty. Returning to the stone, the trail rises along a steep grassy wall and sometimes the track is very narrow. After about 20/30 minutes of climbing, you will arrive at the intersection with path 831a which, if you keep to the right, will take you to Palcoda.
Also in this case the ancient village is preceded by some ruins whose conservation status is worse than those that had welcomed us to Tamar.
Were not for the church of San Giacomo and the recently built bivouac, only ghosts would remain of Palcoda. Nature has taken back every building and in the rooms where families once gathered, now only shrubs are housed.
Stefano and I take advantage of the sun’s rays that illuminate the church to have lunch then retrace our steps to return to Tramonti di Sotto. As the last sign of our passage, we let the bells ring.
From Palcoda to Tramonti di Sotto
We return to the above-mentioned intersection and we keep to the right of path 831a to return to Tramonti di Sotto. For about a quarter of an hour, the path continues uphill to a small saddle. Here you will cross the track of hunters which you can use as an alternative to get to Palcoda from Tamar. Also at this point, you must also sharpen your eyes and find the lion in the rock.
Like the first leg, path 831a also descends quietly and without any difficulty until it rejoins the paved road and then with Tramonti di Sotto.
Why you should visit Palcoda and Tamar
To find calm, reflect and ignite the imagination.
Between the two villages, I preferred Tamar because the interventions made on the buildings have made it a place where it is easy to breathe the past while still remaining in life. Palcoda, on the other hand, made me feel uneasy, perhaps due to the historical period we are living through. It made me reflect on the fragility of life and on how ephemeral all the things that surround us are.
In any case, this loop trail is pleasant and even taken individually the villages are in my opinion the perfect destination for your spring (or autumn) hikes in Friuli Venezia Giulia.