The via dei Laghi: the best of Friuli by motorbike

Discovering the most beautiful lakes in Friuli Venezia Giulia. The motorbike itinerary of Francesco Tamai, on the paths of the legendary Agane.

Friuli by motorcycle - Lake Sauris - Veneto Alpine passes itinerary
Friuli by motorcycle - Lake Sauris - Ph. Shutterstock

Friuli is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy to be discovered by motorbike: Francesco Tamai tells us about his itinerary, the “Via dei Laghi”.

Each territory has its own legends and one of these, between the provinces of Pordenone e Udine, tells of beings that populate the waterways and lakes that characterize the valleys carved out between the Alps in these two provinces.

Le Agane, beautiful girls like nymphs or terrifying old ones like witches, have a shy and reserved character, like the streams where they live, hidden among deep gorges and apparently dry and non-existent but ready to fill up and release all their strength in a moment. The Agane have always helped men in their daily work, teaching them to take care of the land they live in and who knows, to harness the power of water in majestic dams that create turquoise gems in the heart of the woods.

Content index

  1. Departure from the province of Treviso
  2. Lake of Barcis
  3. Lake of Redona
  4. Sauris lake
  5. Lake of Cavazzo
  6. Cornino lake
  7. I go back home
  8. Data Room

Departure from the province of Treviso

Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi - Ascent to Piancavallo
Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi - Ascent to Piancavallo

On the way to these stories, I decided to trace a path that would make me touch some of the gods lakes more beautiful than Friuli Venezia Giulia: three are artificial, two of glacial origin, one of which, very small, whose beauty makes me believe that, if they ever really existed, the Agane must have been born there, on the Cornino lake.

The departure is from the Pedemontana (SP29), the road that connects Cordignano in the province of Treviso to Maniago in the province of Pordenone. At the height of Aviano (PN) you start the climb a Piancavallo (1290msl), along which you can enjoy a view over the plain, from Treviso to Udine and stopping for a moment, just looking towards the Friulian city, you will notice a long white stripe or the Cellina stream, my first symbolic contact with the theme of water, from there it will be my return. The Cellina is a torrent so it fills up only with heavy autumn or spring rains, otherwise it looks like a white highway of stones and gravel.

Lake of Barcis

Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi - Suspension bridge in Barcis
Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi - Suspension bridge in Barcis

I continue the climb between fast curves and hairpin bends, reaching the town of Piancavallo and, following the signs for Barcis, along a road that climbs a little further between huts and remote pastures and an environment that at times leaves the wood to become barren and stony, I reach the well-known mountain town of Val Cimoliana: Barcis and its lake.

Lake Barcis is an artificial lake, created by a dam that controls the Cellina stream and is a splendid holiday resort. Its splendid, icy waters are a feast for the eyes. You can go around it, even crossing a small and narrow suspension bridge or running over the dam.

I resume the path towards Montereale Valcellina, just after the first tunnel, carried out towards Andreis to reach the village of Poffabro, passing the Forcella di Pala Barzana, not very high to be honest but a fun gut of curves to be done only in good weather due to a background that is often filled with leaves. Impossible not to stop in Poffabro (Borgo d'Italia) to enjoy its typical architecture and preserved as a relic by its inhabitants. At Christmas, imaginative nativity scenes are set up in every window and in every courtyard. I also have the pleasure of meeting Lionello, an elder of the village who tells me the story of the origins of the village and some anecdotes, which I listen avidly until he tells me that the village that you can see from the square, between two mountains, is Trieste (which in reality will be 150 km as the crow flies from Poffabro) and I remain in doubt about everything I have heard so far.

Lake of Redona

Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi - Lake Redona
Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi - Lake of Redona

It's time to move on to another valley, the Val Tramontina to reach another artificial lake: Lake Redona. I take back the saddle of mine Suzuki V-Power 650 XT and continue in the direction of Navarons to enter the valley carved by a second stream, the Meduna, the river that crosses Pordenone. I go around following the signs for Tramonti di Sotto and in a few minutes I am at the dam that allows the basin to fill up forming the Lake of Redona. At the bottom of this lake there are still some houses that have been submerged and which can be visited when the lake is almost dry. I take this opportunity for a coffee break in the locality Pecol, a promontory on Lake Redona on which the Pan e Yoda da Febo hotel-restaurant stands, whose view of the lake is fairytale and deserves a break, perhaps tasting the pitina, a tasty typical salami from Tramontino.

Sauris lake

Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi - Tunnel Towards Sauris
Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi - Tunnel Towards Sauris

I resume the race towards sauris, ham town, in addition to the more famous San Daniele, continuing north along the Tramontina valley, I cross the Pass Rest and through the Tagliamento on a bridge on the surface of the water. The road takes me to the town of Prius where you turn on the state road in the direction of Ampezzo and then turn following the signs for Sauris: 13 km of winding road in the middle of the woods that climbs up to 1200 meters. Before reaching the lake you have to go through three tunnels which are literally narrow holes dug in the rock and paved with slippery and wet pavé which leads me to tighten my backside until the exit from the last tunnel where, suddenly, an expanse of a turquoise blue draws the eye opening a smile of amazement on the face in front of one of the most beautiful spectacles that nature and man together can give. Lake Sauris is also an artificial lake, very large (at the time of construction, the dam was the second in Europe) but what makes it fascinating is the color of its waters that make it a turquoise nestled between the mountains. Having reached the town of Sauris, it is impossible not to stop and savor the well-known raw ham and smoked speck of Sauris, perhaps right at the shop of the Wolf ham factory, after all, it is also time for lunch.

Lake of Cavazzo

Friuli by motorcycle - The Via dei Laghi - Lake Cavazzo
Friuli by motorcycle - The Via dei Laghi - Lake Cavazzo

Refreshed with the excellent IGP raw ham, I leave for Sauris di Sopra, where the brewery where the Zahre craft beer, needless to describe my displeasure in not being able to take advantage of this moment ... that I leave behind me continuing towards the Veneto. Outdated Rioda saddle at 1800m, continue to the intersection on the Rocket saddle (1760m) where you turned north to take the Val Pesarina and return to Friuli. The view is wonderful, they are on the Dolomite complex between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, typical mountains with rocky peaks and dense fir woods when I reach the town of Pesariis, an incredible watchmaking center since the 1700s.

Friuli in motion - The Via dei Laghi - Water clock in Pesariis
Friuli in motion - The Via dei Laghi - Water clock in Pesariis

The town is an open-air museum, with an exhibition of monumental clocks in every corner, a jewel among the jewels of nature. Leaving Val Pesarina, I follow towards tolmezzo il Degano torrent that at the height of Villa Santina throws itself on the Tagliamento whose course guides me up to Cavazzo Carnico which, with the municipalities of Bordano and Trasaghis, overlooks Lake Cavazzo, also known as Dei Tre Comuni. This natural lake, the largest in Friuli Venezia Giulia, is of glacial origin, that is, it was formed by the retreat of the glaciers that dug and filled it with water. A much larger time and is fed by springs placed on the bottom. The lake is suitable for swimming and navigable and is an excellent oasis of relaxation, a few kilometers away, in Bordano, it is possible to visit the Butterfly House, a visitor center with different tropical environments reproduced in which to walk among the butterflies and observe them immersed in the their environment.

Cornino lake

The last stop on this journey through the places where the Agane live, is the very small lake Del Cornino, located under the Mount Cornino, of glacial origin like Lake Cavazzo, it is a pearl of rare beauty, perhaps really the lake from which the Agane were born. I leave Bordano and head towards trasaghis keeping the Tagliamento on my left, on the road to Bottecchia, known to all cycling enthusiasts up to Cornino. Just before the town there are the mountain and the lake and a wildlife reserve for the protection of griffons. The lake is a jewel with transparent turquoise blue waters almost like those of an atoll, the algae and the boulders on the bottom look like a coral reef and a pedestrian path allows you to get closer to the waters, in which it is forbidden to dive even for the very cold temperature, and go around the lake observing the microworld that has developed around it, or observing the griffons circling high on the summit of the Cornino.

Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi
Friuli by motorbike - The Via dei Laghi - Cornino Lake


The day that started a bit subdued with an overcast sky opened up along the way, giving me wonderful landscapes and breathtaking views. The return is via the Maraldi Bridge which crosses the meduna at the point where it leaves the mountain to pour into the plains and then for Montereale, where, in the same way, through the Cellina, observing this vast highway of stones and gravel on which some apparently calm and insignificant rivulets of water flow but whose bed, infinitely wider, gives the idea of ​​the strength and potential of these streams which, like the Aganas are shy and shy but have the strength of the most robust men, so these streams seem harmless but retain an energy that can be irrepressible.

Data Room