San Daniele and the surrounding area: the hills of Central Friuli

An exciting territory rich in surprises for nature-lovers


The hilly area in the centre of Friuli is a territory that holds pleasant surprises, not only from the point of view of wine and food but also those of art, landscape and natural beauty. It is therefore well worth devoting a day to exploring these places, on foot or by bike, but also cruising among its gentle hills and crystal clear lakes by car, possibly stopping every now and then at one of the many taverns to drink a good glass of wine, accompanied by a slice of prosciutto di San Daniele.
Set out from the Lake Cornino nature reserve, where for almost twenty years now an international project has been protecting the griffon-vulture, which has established its natural habitat in this area. It is the ideal destination for birdwatching enthusiasts, offering guided excursions along panoramic paths that enable many species of the local fauna to be observed, with the flight of griffons in the morning hours being a popular highlight.
From here, simple, well-marked footpaths lead to the discovery of Lake Cornino. The experienced trekker can choose among numerous hiking trails leading to Monte Cuâr and the Monte Prât plateau, which affords breathtaking views over San Daniele and the hilly area of Friuli where the historic buildings providing lodging in the “Albergo Diffuso” or widespread hotel nestle on the slopes.
Another lake of glacial origin is Lake Ragogna, dear to birdwatchers since it is an important transit corridor for migratory birds such as the mallard, grey heron and diver.
Grotta-VillanovaThere is a dual-use bike/footpath encircling Lake Ragogna and a lookout point enabling visitors to admire the surrounding panorama. Upon leaving Ragona, go down to Fagagna and visit the Oasi dei Quadris wetland bird sanctuary, a reserve populated by white storks and hermit ibises.
The hilly area of Friuli also offers an exciting experience in the bowels of the Earth. In fact, Alta Val Torre harbours the Villanova Caverns, natural caves carved by water over the course of millions of years, where specialized guides accompany visitors along eight kilometres of level galleries.
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