Pleasant retreat and starting point of this trip is Forni di Sopra, tourist resort of the Carnia area rising at 900 meters above sea level. The village lies at the northern border of the nature reserve Parco Regionale delle Dolomiti Friulane and is a true attraction for the visitor, with its ancient wood and stone architecture. Two times a year, in June and September, there are food events dedicated to spring herbs and mushrooms, but gourmets can taste here all year round tasty products of the Carnic cuisine, like polenta and frico.
From Forni di Sopra you can reach the Austrian border or, crossing the mountain pass Passo della Mauria and the area of Cadore, you can reach the Dolomites of the Veneto region: this will be our tour.
From Forni, follow the steep state highway 52 to the mountain pass Passo della Mauria (1295 m), that marks the border with the Cadore area. From up there you have a wonderful view of the valleys of the rivers Piave and Tagliamento, with majestic mountains like Marmarole and Antelao. The descent from the pass, which is paved and has many hairpin bends, takes to Lorenzago (883 m), a village that hosted many times Pope John Paul II during his summer holidays.
From Lorenzago go on towards Cima Gogna, in the direction of Auronzo di Cadore, where an artificial basin surrounded by green is the perfect place for a stop. Follow the straight stretch in the valley Valle dell'Ansiei, crossing Palus, until you reach the crossroads of the old customs house: a few km detour take you to the Misurina Lake, surrounded by conifer forests. Its water mirror the image of the famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo, a view that is definitely worth seeing. Back to the crossroads, follow the road to Cortina d'Ampezzo and reach the mountain pass Passo Tre Croci (1805 m) at the border between the valleys of Misurina and Boite. Here you can admire the Cristallo mountain on your right and the Sorapis on your left. Cortina d'Ampezzo, the "Queen of the Dolomites", is one of the most famous mountain resorts in the world, located in a natural basin and surrounded by the most beautiful mountain groups of the Eastern Dolomites. It is worth taking some of your time to stroll in the lively and classy town center.
Leave Cortina and continue uphill along the Boite valley, between two majestic mountains: Tofane on your left and Pomagagnon on your right. At the beginning of the valleys Val Travenanzes and Val di Fanes the road, smooth with a few challenging curves, turns abruptly to the right, running around the hill of Podestagno, climbing up to Cimabanche, the highest point between Cortina and Dobbiaco, and then descending towards Carbonin. The road continues northward along the Landro valley, with the wonderful Cristallo Mountain at your back. Past Carbonin the road runs along that wonderful water expanse that is the Landro lake, surrounded by conifer forests. Past the lake, you have at your right a wonderful view of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, among the most famous mountains of the Dolomites. If you get there at the sunset you will be able to enjoy a breathtaking scenery. Leave the beautiful Dobbiaco lake at your left and follow the descent to Dobbiaco, in the Upper Val Pusteria valley.
Dobbiaco is a picturesque village full of history, traditions, loden shops and clothing stores, restaurants with coffered ceilings and majolica stoves where you can enjoy an excellent and wholesome local cuisine.
Leave Dobbiaco and follow downhill road 49 in the direction of the border between Italy and Austria. After a few kilometers you reach San Candido, important tourist resort with elegant buildings and churches. We suggest you to visit Innichen Abbey, the most interesting Romanic building of South Tyrol.
Leave San Candido and take road 52 in direction south-east towards Sesto, picturesque village at the feet of the Elmo Mountain and good starting point for trekkers and climbers. From here you enjoy a wonderful view on Croda Rossa, Croda dei Toni, Cima Undici, Cima Dodici and Tre Scarperi.
Past Moso proceed uphill among the forests to the mountain pass Passo di Monte Croce Comelico. On the other side of it there is the area of Comelico, included in the province of Belluno, in the Veneto region. The pass thus marks also a linguistic and cultural border. When you get on the pass you see at your right the imposing Cima Undici and in front of you the Padola valley. Drive through the green area of Comelico, characterized by wonderful forests and meadows, but also well-kept villages and barns. Pass several villages until you get to Santo Stefano di Cadore, then drive on to Campolongo along the Piave River. The next destination is Sappada (1250 m), resort with a typical Tyrolean atmosphere comprising hamlets where the locals speak a Carinthian dialect. Sappada is a good resort for cross-country skiing, but also for some striking trekking tours under the smooth face of the Peralba mountain, the snow-white Dolomite rock hiding the springs of the Piave River.
Crossed the mountain pass Cima Sappada you find yourself in the Carnia area and will drive through the tourist resorts Forni Avoltri, Comeglians, Villa Santina, Ampezzo, Forni di Sopra, reaching the village where your journey started, Forni di Sopra. At Ampezzo you can take a small detour driving uphill the canyon of Val Lumiei on a 150 meters high bridge and reaching Sauris, a village of typical wood and stone houses famous for its delicious ham.
- Start your journey in Forni di Sopra
- Cross the mountain pass Passo della Mauria and reach Lorenzago
- Continue to Auronzo di Cadore, and if you like once you reach the crossroads of the old customs house you can take a detour to the Misurina Lake
- At the crossroads of the old customs house cross the mountain pass Passo Tre Croci and reach Cortina d'Ampezzo
- Leave Cortina d'Ampezzo, continue towards Dobbiaco and San Candido
- Take the state highway 52 and go south-east towards Sesto until you reach the mountain pass Monte Croce Comelico. Cross it and continue downhill in the area of Comelico to Santo Stefano di Cadore
- Continue towards Campolongo, following the Piave River, and reach Sappada
- Cross the mountain pass Cima Sappada and reach the Carnia area, going back to Forni di Sopra. (In Ampezzo you can take a short detour to Sauris)