There’s a lot of history involved in this cycling and multi-sport tour, with a focus on the years during and between the two World Wars. The itinerary weaves through the Mitteleuropean heritage of the area, reflecting its past under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, guided by the Habsburg family. It was a true crossroads of cultures, and a visit to the WWI Museum in Caporetto-Kobarid provides invaluable insights into the history and geography of these bordering regions.
Both Friuli and Slovenia are big wine producers, especially of white wines, and it’s interesting to taste the same grape varietal cultivated in different soils and climates. Friuli’s wine regions of Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli will be the backdrop of our cycling ride towards Slovenia, and in Slovenia we pass through the wine areas of Goriska Brda, Kras and Vipavska Dolina. In September you can witness the peak of the grape harvest and the beginning of the winemaking process.
Rolling vineyards, verdant forests and snowcapped mountains form the backdrop for much of our riding along smooth, uncrowded roads and bike paths. The views are just as spectacular when we are off the bikes enjoying a variety of multi-sport activities, including river rafting, hiking, and much more.
This program has a spectacular ending on Lake Bled and in the charming capital city of Ljubljana, one of the prettiest capitals in Europe.
Not sure if you can do it? Contact us to schedule a call about how demanding the rides are. E-bikes are also available.
Grado - Aquileia - 21
A private shuttle will take you to our hotel on an island-village on the Adriatic. Grado is Friuli’s lagoon city, a town with 1600 years of history, which can still be experienced by strolling the calli (streets) of the ancient city center. Grado was the first port of entry for ships headed upstream to nearby Aquileia, a powerful Roman city on the Natisone River.
After some lunch and introductions, we ride inland to Aquileia. The colony was founded in 180 BC and served as a strategic frontier fortress at the northeast corner of Transpadane (on the far side of the Po River) Italy.
Back at the hotel, you will receive an overview of the tour program followed by dinner.
Grado - Capriva del Friuli - 30 or 46
Following some additional adjustments to our bikes, we set off along the picturesque Alpe Adria Bikeway. Our first stop is in Palmanova, famous for its star-shaped fortification. Time for a cappuccino in the main square right in the center of the star! We continue along the Alpe Adria Bikeway until we cross the Torre River and the terrain becomes more undulating. We reach Buttrio, a village topped by a castle and surrounded by vineyards. Buttrio is the perfect spot for a taste of the local cuisine and wine production.
The second - and last - climb of the day will reach the Rosazzo Abbey and, if we have clear skies, the views will span from the Adriatic to the Julian Alps.
For dinner, Chef Antonino Venica will offer us his loving take on Friulian cuisine with a modern twist.
Collio Hills - 30
Today's ride leads us northward to Cividale del Friuli (UNESCO site). We will be pedaling through the Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli wine area for about 30 mls of easy and rolling terrain. Cividale del Friuli will be our morning coffee stop and we then head back to Cormons and Capriva from a different road. After some peaceful riding among vineyards, we will reach a local winery for lunch and wine tasting. The family-owned Grillo winery is in the center of the Schioppettino wine production area (very rare and hard to find anywhere outside of Friuli Venezia Giulia). Relax back at La Tavernetta al Castello di Spessa before dinner.
Cormons - Bovec - 42
Today's ride takes us out of Friuli, heading northeast to the border of Slovenia. We will notice the landscape changing as we ride through the lowest mountain pass of the Alps; this long but gradual climb takes us to the former border between Italy and Slovenia. Entering Slovenia we'll find ourselves in a lush, green landscape with the typical vegetation of a mountain region, with rivers, waterfalls, and forests. Silence and very few cars make this and the next rides heavenly.
Our lunch stop is in Caporetto/Kobarid and we have planned a visit to the WWI museum, a small but comprehensive and interesting house where the people from Caporetto have collected pictures and objects through which they tell the history of WWI as it was lived by the soldiers and civilians in that valley where we bike during our tour. In the afternoon we cruise to Bovec following the Soča River Valley. You'll have time to explore Bovec on your own and enjoy a cold beer while watching the sunset behind the high mountains that surround the valley where Bovec is nestled. A short walk to the center of Bovec and we will find our dinner table ready at a local gostilna, a simple, typical "trattoria" style restaurant where we can enjoy our Slovenian meal.
Bovec loop or rest day - 25
Bovec is known as the adventure capital of Slovenia, and we have a full day here to rest and enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities: kayaking, rafting, canoeing, paragliding, mountain biking, hiking and more. Kayaking in the emerald waters of the Soca River while immersed in the landscape of high peaks, forest and waterfalls is an unforgettable experience not to be missed. For those who like hiking there are some interesting trails with historical traces of WWI and WWII just outside of Bovec, with a war cemetery, two old forts and some bunkers and tunnels dating back to the Napoleon era and WWI. A bike ride will also be available if you want to explore the countryside up to the edge of Triglav National Park, in a remote little valley where only sheep and cows are witnesses to our slow-paced ride through paradise. Dinner is on your own.
Lake Fusine - Bled - 30
Today we’ll go across the Alps to reach Tarvisio, a town on the border where Italy, Austria and Slovenia meet. A bus will shuttle us and our bikes over a mountain pass and down to the enchanting Fusine Lake where an easy and flat bike path starts. We’ll follow the bike path along the valley, once again immersed in a beautiful forest and with mountains all around us. Past the town of Kranjska Gora we’ll leave the main path and enter a secondary valley, now riding on an unpaved (but smooth) bike path. This valley, the Radovna Valley, is the most beautiful, magical and enchanting place of the whole tour. Streams, small waterfalls, tall trees, water mills, a few old farmhouses and some cows are what we will see during the almost 6.2 mls of riding in this heavenly valley. Once we leave the valley we will be very close to Bled and if time and weather permit we can take a detour to admire the Vintgar Gorge, a canyon carved by the Vintgar River. A boardwalk runs along the gorge and from there we can view waterfalls and rapids.
Picture-perfect Lake Bled is our final destination today. Hotel Astoria boasts a prime location from which you can explore the lakeshore. Dinner is at the hotel.
Today we’ll transfer by private shuttle (about 1 hr) to Ljubljana. Upon arriving, you will have a guided visit of the town center of this UNESCO-recognized gem. You will have some free time in the afternoon to explore on your own and to do some shopping.
We will enjoy dinner at a gostilna that best represents, in our opinion, the exciting food scene of the Slovenian capital. A gostilna is not an ordinary restaurant serving delicious food but an integral part of Slovenian culture and gastronomic heritage, and, incidentally, the best place for our farewell dinner celebrations.
We've put a strong emphasis on the food and wine of Friuli and Slovenia in our tour.
The cuisine of Friuli reflects the varied cultures that surround this region and the focus is on simple, homemade products. Pasta, an Italian staple, is eaten in many different forms: lasagna noodles are topped with poppy seeds and gnocchi can be mixed with goulash or smoked ricotta. Polenta is served with meat, game or cheese. A wide variety of soups (an influence from Central Europe) are consumed with different types of dumplings. Friuli is known for its Prosciutto di San Daniele DOP, a cured ham with a sweet, aromatic flavor that is served with bread, melon or figs, and is paired with local white wine. Speaking of wine, the Collio region is a land of big white wines like Pinot, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon and Collio Bianco. A smaller production of red wines includes Cabernet, Merlot
The Slow Food
The pan di
The pestàt from Fagagna is a very peculiar seasoning created to preserve the scents and flavors of autumn vegetables and herbs in pork lard. Its production, on a family level, occurs during the slaughter of pigs, from November to March. The lard, coming from local pigs bred in a semi-wild manner with natural feeding, is minced and mixed with chopped vegetables and spices, put into natural casings and matured in damp and cool cellars.
Producing cheese from the rotational dairies was an economical and easy way of managing the milk, suitable for the small-scale dairy production of Friuli's territory, with many farmers in every village. The milk of many families was put together and processed together. The cheese produced, simply called "
Just as in Friuli, Slovenia’s cuisine is influenced by the countries that surround it: sausage, Weiner Schnitzel
The vineyards of the Italian Collio continue into the Slovene Brda, where the rolling hills create several different microclimates. Unlike many of the major wine regions of Europe, Slovenia's winemaking history predates the