The Val Saisera hike, far from the madding crowd

Hiking in Italy: Cappella Zita, Tarvisio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

My perception of time has changed since the pandemic started. It has already been a month since our last hike and yet it seems like ages.
After almost thirty days of lockdown, me and Stefano decide to go somewhere new. Somewhere neither of us had ever visited before.

Where is Cappella Zita?

Cappella Zita is a small chapel near Tarvisio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy. It was built in 1917 by Austria-Hungarian soldiers to honor the new Empress of Austria, Zita of Bourbon. She was the wife of Charles I who succeeded Franz-Josef to the throne after the famous accident which sparked WW1.
Soldiers built this chapel on the site of an old mountain cemetery. The little church is now, of course, on Italian land and is taken care of by the fire workers of Tarvisio.

Why you should visit Cappella Zita

Cappella Zita is a good option for those who want to hike in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and stay off the main routes. But not too much. This hike’s starting point is on the edge of one of the most beautiful (and touristic) hiking locations in our region: Val Saisera.

Val Saisera combines easy trails with more difficult paths and high elevation gains. That’s why it is considered a must-see location all year long. If you use Instagram as inspiration for your next trips, it’s likely that you will find pictures of Val Saisera in all the seasons.
The hike to Cappella Zita will allow you to enjoy the beauty of this valley from above and with fewer people around.

The trail to Cappella Zita

Our hike starts from Valbruna, a small hamlet near Tarvisio where the highway exit is. We park on the side of the road and we immediately spot the signage leading to Cappella Zita (1515 meters above sea level). Despite the half a meter of snow on the ground and the thick clouds in the sky, it is quite hot outside. The first layer of snow is melting and after a few meters, we already wear our snowshoes.

Hiking in Italy: Cappella Zita, Tarvisio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

The total elevation gain is 700 meters and it proceeds slowly but surely. We lose ourselves in the forest as we carefully follow the forest trail. The CAI trail which leads to the chapel is the 607. There are many points in which it’s possible to shortcut the trail through the thick of the woods, but we don’t want to risk it.
We steadily proceed with our snowshoes hike glancing on Tarvisio whenever the trees are sparser.

Hiking in Italy: Cappella Zita, Tarvisio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

When there are but a few meters of elevation gain ahead of us, fog swallows the landscape. When we finally walk out of the woods, the sky is the lightest shade of gray and it is one with snow. We hardly spot Malga Rauna (Alm Rauna) which is buried in snow and finally, there she is in all her beauty: Zita’s Chapel.

For being an atheist, I have quite a love for churches and this little one is one the cutest I’ve ever seen. We barely have the time to eat our sandwiches (and shoot some Instagram Stories) before fog rolls over us again forcing us to move. We know that from Cappella Zita you can hike more and reach Jôf di Miezegnot. We know that there’s a ring route that could take us back to our starting point. But all we see is white, gray, and trees and it’s time for us to walk back to the car.

Hiking in Italy: Cappella Zita, Tarvisio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

The right season to visit Cappella Zita

Maybe it was the weather, or maybe it was my high expectations, but I don’t think winter is the right season to visit Cappella Zita.
If I should a specific time of the year, I’d advise late summer or autumn when the forest is a multicolor canopy.
On the other hand, I’m sure that with different weather conditions, the snowy landscape from the chapel is majestic.

Hiking in Italy: Cappella Zita, Tarvisio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

After the hike…

A hike is not well finished if it doesn’t end with very caloric food. If you’re into cakes and bakes, you MUST visit I Dolci di Irma in the center of Valbruna for the best handmade cake in the area. If you wish to refresh your ideas with an ice-cold beer or drown your efforts with “Bombardino” (eggnog) head to “La Taverna”. The pub is located in a cellar on the main square of Tarvisio.

Hiking in Italy: Cappella Zita, Tarvisio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m quite fond of Tarvisio and this specific area of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. I love the way different cultures melt together creating an equally weird and romantic combination.
I’m fond and proud of living in a land where Europe is not some abstract entity but something that people experience every day. I love that Cappella Zita was built by Austrians and restored by Italians. I think that’s a good metaphor for life. It doesn’t matter who, why, and how something was built, what matters is that we nurture our similarities rather than our differences.

Hiking in Italy: Cappella Zita, Tarvisio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Hike recap

  • Starting Point: Valbruna, Tarvisio, Italy
  • Length: 13 km back and forth (8 miles)
  • Difference in altitude: 700 mt (2296 feet)
  • Timing: 4 hours (with snow)
  • Motorway exit: From A4 Venezia-Trieste, take A23, and head towards Tarvisio.
Where to sleep
Hotel Il Cervo

Where to eat
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