Nature’s Rich Tapestry: The Dance Of Autumn Foliage

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Illustration: Olha Polonska
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by Althea Mallee

Autumn is now upon us, and with it we begin to see shorter days and less light. A mysterious atmosphere begins to fall across Friuli Venezia Giulia, a magic that allows us to connect deeply in with nature.

The Friulian landscape bursts alive with newfound warmth in an abundance of color, the sound of falling leaves and the earthy aroma of woodland moss and freshly roasted chestnuts. Every year nature provides us with one her richest displays, an inexpensive exhibition where viewers are invited to become part of the process called Fall Foliage and it’s becoming quite the trend.

Fir, maples, larches, birches, ash trees, beech trees and chestnuts are just a small portion of this wonderful biodiversity found in the forests. There are plenty of walks accessible for all, so there’s no excuse to not take advantage of this precious time of the year to see an infinite array of colorful shimmering leaves.

Famous in Friuli Venezia Giulia, the diverse landscape of Bosco Romagna is immersed in the peaceful hillside and spans over 53 hectares. It is furrowed by the waters of Rio Cornizza and Rio del and has a forest dense with vegetation. Bosco Romagna will welcome you with a bountiful collection of oak and chestnut trees, sweeping meadows and a variety of fauna. Inside the woods you may see roe deer, foxes, badgers, squirrels, dormice and some rare breeds of wildcats.

A recreational area is also available, a great pit stop, with plenty of wooden benches for a barbecue or picnic and playground nearby for the little ones to play outdoors. Bosco Romagna is the perfect getaway and is open to everyone, the young and the old. Options to take comfortable walking routes or more challenging are available and all guarantee you to be showered with the soft affection of falling autumn leaves.

Kot’s Waterfall is a small secret nook found in San Leonardo and it is said to be the home of fire salamanders! It is the perfect spot for a cleansing forest bathe with the sounds of nature and birds all around you. To discover this magical natural wonderland, follow the road from the Cividale exit in the direction of Sanguarzo and Ponte San Quirino. Continue to follow the signs for San Leonardo and turn at the signposted “sentiero delle cascate” (waterfall path).

After parking your car by side of the road, follow a pathway blemished with deciduous trees and guided by a stream. Just short of one kilometre, the walk is relatively easy but do keep in mind the terrain can be rather slippery so please bring appropriate walking shoes. Once you reach the waterfall become immersed in the sounds of nature and if you’re feeling adventurous climb down to the second even more secret waterfall below.

Volaia Lake, a popular destination in Friuli Venezia Giulia, originating from the ice ages, can be found high in the carnic alps on the border of Austria and Italy. This small ice basin produces a variety of theatrical displays, most notably at sunset when it reflects the surrounding grey Volaia Mountains. Ancient and modern history also collide at this important site. Primitive treasures and fossils can be found across the land, as this whole area was once a tropical sea.

Volaia Trench is also available and encapsulates the history of War World I with many military artifacts that have been collected by volunteers. There is a variety of places to eat some local cuisine at Lambertenghi-Romanin refuge and the WolayerSee Hutte. Both are on Austrian soil and provide an opportunity to watch the majestic scenery at sunrise. Become spellbound by the blue waters of the lake, the meadows of the surrounding ridges and the distant yellow from the larches.

It is true Autumn provides us with visual dazzling imagery, but it also produces delights of another variety. The month of October comes alive with Mese delle Castagne or Month of the Chesnuts and it takes place is many areas of the region, most famously in Faedis and Polcenigo.

During this month farmers open their properties to locals and tourists to partake in the pleasure of gathering chestnuts for themselves and to enjoy in the ancient tradition of Caldarroste, chestnuts that are roasted on charcoal, a true Italian heritage. As you walk the streets you may also notice trees bearing fruits! Any of these that fall onto “public land” can be picked guilt free and legally for your enjoyment.

Autumn is a favorite season for nature lovers, forest bathers and foragers alike and there is a multitude more trails and traditions available in Friuli Venezia Giulia that will stoke your fire and rekindle your senses. It is a season which invites us to shake off the mundane, relish in the region’s earthy cornucopia and become a witness of nature. Just as the temporal autumn leaves fall, we too let go of our summer pastimes and arrive at a new beginning not only rich in color but alive with greener pastures and delicate pleasures.

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Fate recently swept Althea off her feet from the raw lands of Australia and into the romantic arms of Udine. Her and her Italian husband held their official wedding ceremony at the Grotta di Villanova, which became a first for Friuli. She is a visionary artist and studied a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) in Australia with a major in painting and a minor in English. Her enigmatic and intricate paintings encapsulate her joys for the arts, travel, culture and spirituality and can be found in private collections, galleries and restaurant walls worldwide. As a yoga instructor and massage therapist, wellness and living a harmonious life is of most importance. In nature she finds her solace and she is a great lover of the sea. Surfing holds a unique place in her heart, and you can find her chasing her bliss on waves around the globe and even, to many locals surprise, this also includes Friuli Venezia Guilia! Settled now in Udine she relishes in its rich history and outstanding landscapes and is happy to call this unique part of the world home. To view Althea’s art please visit Instagram @spectrum.portal.art

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