Speaking of Italian mountains, there are certain pictures which come to our minds first: the glorious Dolomites, famous worldwide and very near to us Friulians, or the mountain ranges along the border with Austria, or even the highest peaks of our national territory (such as the ones in Piedmont and Aosta Valley). Yet, in exposing our national pride, one land shall not be forgotten: the Carnia (in Friulian dialect Cjargne), whose superb landscapes and unique traditions let it find its place among the most significant areas of the whole Italian Alps.

Carnia has a lot to offer its visitors: its sharp and regular peaks host countless villages, each with its own identity. These miniature worlds, independent one from the other, have each their own dialect, wine and food products, customs and tradition; yet they are all joined together in the folkloric heritage of the region. A good example could be the one of Forni di Sopra and Forni di Sotto (Upper and Lower Forni): same name, a 10 km of distance, completely different cultural influences (Forni di Sopra, for geographical reasons, is much closer to the traditions of Cadore, the dolomitic area in the province of Belluno, Veneto). Being Carnia a quite limited territory, the villages are not far from each other; yet, the rough mountain tracks make the trip quite adventurous. Many villages are even difficult to be located on the map, but each and every one of them has a different story to tell.

Carnia’s landscapes are certainly among the finest things our land has to offer. There’s always green plains stretching for kilometres, here and there stained by the typical country haylofts with rake-shaped roofs made of wood, straw or metal sheets, the so-called “mountain harps”. They almost look like sculptures coming out of the countryside, like icons of the mountain agriculture. There are more than 30 different kinds, witnessing the fantasy and wisdom of the farmers, as well as the variety of this region. Furthermore, the vast pastures of our mountains let us admire herds of sheep, goats, cows, horses grazing freely until the first colds of autumn, when they are brought back to the valley stables.

Understandably, the shepherds of Carnia and all its other inhabitants are not very used to seeing “new” people, but they are nonetheless kind and hospitable, always willing to tell stories and legends about their land. If a traveller dives into these landscapes, visiting the peculiar villages and tasting the typical specialities like the herbs and flower-scented cheese products, he will feel like entering a whole different world.

Carnia also offers quite a few trekking itineraries, which are the best way to totally experience the true atmosphere of the land. Some of them can be found here. The Friulian mountains are unique opportunities for the nature lovers at a relatively close distance from the city; that’s because Carnia is able to concentrate the most peculiar and various realities in a very limited space, and for every taste it is totally worth discovering, through each of them, the authentic values of our culture, which has its most ancient roots in this territory. A good spectrum of what Carnia has to offer can be found here.

(Translated by Lorenzo Flego)

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