Moggio and the Canal del Ferro: Ancient Abbey and Historic Trails in a 'Hidden' World of Secretive Mountains.


The 'Canal del Ferro'

The 'Canal del Ferro' (Cjanâl dal Fiêr in Friulan, Fellatal in German) is a mountain valley of the Provincia di Udine, crossed by the river Fella, which separates the Alpi Carniche (Carnic Alps) to the north from the Alpi Giulie (Julian Alps) to the south.

The Origins of the Name

The name, which officially appears on documents since the 13th C but that dates back, in common use, to the Romans, is derived from the traffic of iron (ferro) – and other metals – which since the remotest of times developed between the mines of Styria and Carinthia (present day Austria), and the ports along the Adriatic coast.

Geography

The Canal del Ferro is a rugged and narrow valley, with steep, high cliffs either side, and covered in a low woodland or scrubland, interrupted only here and there by rock spurs, small gravel patches and protruding ridges that jut out from the mountainsides like theatre wings towards the valley floor.

The stretch known as ‘Canal del Ferro’ originates at Pontebba, at the confluence between the Val Pontebbana from the north with the Val Canale from the east. Here the valley bends sharply towards the south across Dogna and Chiusaforte, where – once collected from the hydrographic left the waters of the Raccolana stream – it curves towards the west and arrives at Resiutta and Moggio Udinese. Lastly, after a short stretch and another curve towards the south, the clear waters of the Fella mix with the darkest waters of the Tagliamento by the village of Amaro – which marks the geographical start of the Carnia region.

Transportation

In modern times, the National Road known today as SS 13 Pontebbana was built; this had Venice as its point of origin, and from there it conducted towards Austria. It was later made more modern, rectified and enlarged after the damaging earthquake of 1976.

The valley was also traversed by the old Pontebbana railway – a single track line, of which are still visible the daring infrastructures, amongst which are several iron bridges. The old railway line was dismissed in the 1990s, after the construction of a new double-track railway line connecting Udine with Tarvisio, more apt to the high performances demanded of modern trains. This track runs mostly underground, and becomes visible only by the few viaducts crossing the river.

The motorway Autostrada A23 also crosses the valley with long suspended sections in between the galleries which somewhat spoil the natural beauty of the valley.


Moggio Udinese

The municipality of Moggio is divided into two distinct parts: Moggio Alto – the oldest one, high on a hill – and Moggio Basso, more expanded on the valley floor. Various hamlets surround the two main centres. On the slopes of the surrounding hills, in an agreeable landscape, there are some hamlets and isolated homes that used to be lived in by farmers during the summer months. All of these localities were once connected by numerous trails and pedestrian pathways (known as ‘trois’, and described below). Some of these have later been transformed and equipped into roads, while others have partly remained unused or even abandoned. The local tourist office – in collaboration with the municipality and other local associations – have considered it a good idea to value this local heritage, and have taken action to make these trails available again, while making sure to convey their beauty and make them safe for the walker to use.

Mainly, six trails have been identified that connect the area of Moggio Basso to the ancient Abbey in Moggio Alto – the location of highest historical and cultural value in the whole village, set in a very atmospheric landscape (described below). These trails constitute valid alternatives to the ordinary road system, while offering a pleasant diversion for those who intend to use their free time in ecological pursuits, in ways which can be interesting and rewarding at the same time. Offering the tourist, as well as the occasional visitor and local inhabitant alike, a valid reason to leave the beaten track – usually more crowded and busy with traffic – these trails offer a chance to enter a natural environment rich in suggestions: colours, songs, visions, silences, lights and shadows. It is a ‘small’, hidden world – but a very authentic one, rich in history and of almost secretive beauty. To walk about the pathways that formed the network of the area's road system in the old times means to go back to the rhythms and ways of life of our ancestors; it means stopping to observe an animal, a tree, a mushroom or a flower; it also means to take pleasure in savouring corners of nature in this characteristic – and not so well known – mountain landscape.

1) The trail of ‘Strade dai Fraris. This is an easy, short trail on road and path, partly steep; it is facilitated by steps and also well signaled with boards and posts. It starts to the right of the entrance of the restaurant “Trattoria Al Turchetto”; from there, one takes the paved trail that rises gently. One then enters a wooded area rich in trees: Hazel, Hornbeam, Manna Ash, Cornelian Cherry, Pine, Spruce, and exits at first on a small flat area, where one can notice – higher up – the remains of the bell-tower of the church of Santo Spirito and the steep flanks of the hill, covered in a thick vegetation of Pine and Oak. One can shorten the route by taking to the left on a stony path, or continue to the right on a light rise towards the hill of Santo Spirito. One then connects with the trail of ‘Sot Suspirt(described below), thus reaching at last the Abbey of San Gallo. This is perhaps the oldest trail in Moggio, and it conserves traces of the old stone paving dating to the Middle Ages. A variant can be taken by turning right at the junction with the trail of ‘Sot Suspirt’; after a section that goes up and down, one finally reaches the flat via Molini.

2) The trail of ‘Sot Suspirt. This is an easy trail, at times steep and on rock, but mostly immersed in woodland and facilitated by steps; it is also well signaled with boards and posts. From the lay by at the end of via Trentino, one climbs towards Moggio Alto, on a gentle rise along a meadow. One then passes a spring to the left, and after about 20 metres one takes to the left leaving the trail of ‘Sot Fontane’ (described below), which continues to climb straight. One rises at first onto the southern slope of the hill of Santo Spirito, very wooded and quite steep, then keeps climbing constantly amongst a thick scrub of Hazel, Common Hornbeam, Hop Hornbeam, Locust trees, Oak, Manna Ash, Pine and Spruce.

The undergrowth offers – in the different seasons – an interesting array of flowers to observe: Cyclamen, Buttercup, Primrose, Snowdrop and Columbine. Also interesting to watch is the geological phenomenon of tufa (conglomerate), on the rock walls under the trail. One then has to discard the deviation on the right – which is flatter – and ascend directly across the landslide caused by the flood events of 1996. The rise is facilitated by the presence of steps, and one thus reaches the lane that goes by the graveyard; shortly, one exits on the road that leads to the Abbey. To be noticed – besides the botanical interest given by the many Alpine and sub-Alpine species present here – are the remnants of the walls that were brought to light by the landslide; these are in fact of Roman origin and constitute elements of an ancient fort, or artifacts in defense of the original ‘castelliere’ (Pre-Roman fortification). A variant is the link with the trail of ‘Strade dai Faris’, which can be found roughly half-way route, with arrival in the locality of Turchetto (see description of trail no. 1).

3) The trail of ‘Sot Fontane. This is a path that rises along a meadow with a solid stony bottom, partly facilitated by stairs. It is also well signaled with boards and posts; the first section is in common with the trail of ‘Sot Suspirt’ (see description of trail no. 2). At the junction, one has to proceed along the meadow, and rise in order to enter the small valley between the hill of Santo Spirito and the ridge of ‘Sore Clap’, while flanking the enclosure walls of an area known as ‘bearçs’, thus reaching via Vecchia shortly. As an added note, a magnificent blossoming of Primrose and Snowdrop can be admired here in spring.

4) The trail of ‘Sore Clap. This is an easy trail, on a paved path between stone walls and hedges, with quite a steep rise. The trail is covered at first in traditional stone cubes (porphyry). A perennial spring to the right is one of the numerous water surges which can be seen here, on the slope that is being crossed in a diagonal fashion. The trail – partly carved in the tufa rock – develops across several ‘bearçs’: farming land bordered by hedges and cultivated, in some sections, with orchards (Walnut, Hazel, Apple, Pear, Plum, Cherry). This is the preferred shelter for squirrels and other small animals; also, notice the majestic beech that form a barrier to the left of the final ramp. On a final note, this is the old road putting in communication Moggio Basso with Moggio Alto, once known as ‘ju par la vile’ (‘down by the town’). As a variant, in the last section of the trail one can take to the right and go past the ridge of Cuel to reach the road of Moggio Alto in the locality of Sant’Antonio. This section is also known as the ‘Strade dai Muarts’.

5) The trail of ‘Troi di Rûte. This is a route with steps carved in the rock; it is a traditional shortcut between Moggio Alto and the paper plant below, at Moggio Basso. By rising from Via Giorgio Ermolli – along the tarred road towards Moggio Alto – after the junction for Campiolo, at the first crossing one takes the steps that enter the woodland and rejoins the tarred road briefly, to then cross it and continue on the trail, with steps carved in the stone of the facing rock. One continues in a thick patch of spruce woodland for a while, to then exit in the vicinity of the graveyard; by following the road, one thus reaches the Abbey. Note: at the arrival, one can take the trail of ‘Strade dai Fraris’ (described above; no. 1) and exit on Via Giorgio Ermolli again in the locality of Turchetto; otherwise, a bit further, is the beginning of the trail of ‘Sot Suspirt’ (also described above; no. 2) that takes to via Trentino or via Molini.

6) The trail of ‘Rudinâr – Cjalderate. This is a type of trail apt for tourists who want to discover the area and that develops across paths, roads, woodland, meadows, hamlets, traversing three different hollows crossed by mountain streams. To the left of the town hall, one enters the arch (portico) under the building in order to access the parking of Rudinâr, and continues – always keeping to the left – along the Rio Rudinâr. The road to the right leads instead to the locality known as ‘Brusade’; after about 70 metres, one leaves the main road to take some steps to the left and enter the small valley amongst Spruce, Beech and a dense undergrowth. There are other interesting tree species in this section: Hazel, Oak, Hornbeam, Locust, Scot’s Pine and Manna Ash; finally, one exits in the locality of ‘Braide’ – a vast, gently sloping meadow. Of particular interest, here, are the two small ‘roccoli’: structures traditionally used for capturing birds and dating to the end of the 1800s before this activity became illegal. One then follows the tarred road to the left, rising for about 200 meters, to turn left again towards the hamlet of Travasans (420 m).

At the junction with the road that crosses the hamlet, one takes the path that starts in front of the small parking lot to descend in the middle of the meadows, until the bridge at Pilastri. Here one turns right, following the tarred road, to then go past the Rio Travasans and rise along the meadows of Costa, in a panoramic area. One must keep to the left of the two junctions: the first, on the right, takes to the barn known as ‘stavolo del Model’ and to Monte Cesàris, while the second – also to the right – takes to Borgo Costa (415 m), which would deserve a small deviation too. One can then go down until the junction by the pillar in Costa to descend on the left towards Borgo Riu (at the junction in Costa, the road to the right leads to the village of Moggessa instead). In the hamlet of Riu one need not go past the bridge on the stream but keep to the side of it, along the road that goes down to the Rio Palis (or Lavandaris), to then pass it and rise to the locality of Prapavieri (or Prât vieri). At the top of this road, one must leave it and take the trail to the left, cutting the steep flank of the slope to Cjalderate. One then needs to descend along the edge of the woodland to exit on the meadow in the locality of Riuç, and finally reach the road of Campiolo.

As a note, it can be added that this is a highly panoramic route – particularly atmospheric for the views it offers on Moggio Alto and over the Abbey. The hamlet of Travasans – after the damage caused by the earthquake of 1976 – has been rebuilt respecting the original alignment of the former settlement, but unfortunately without taking into account the rural typology of the original buildings: stone walls, arches (porticoes), passages and cobbled streets have thus all but disappeared. The area known as Cjalderate is a narrow gorge formed by the Rio Travasans, with precipitous rock walls and some erosion pot-holes on the bottom (known here as ‘marmitte’). A popular legend has it that here is also the outlet of a secret gallery that was built by the monks of the Benedictine Abbey during the Middle Ages.

The Ancient Abbey of San Gallo

The tradition affirms that the Abbey of San Gallo (Abbazia di San Gallo) was erected on the site of an ancient castle that a noble landowner had given to the Patriarch of Aquileia in 1084, with the promise to build a Benedictine monastery. From the 15th century onwards, however, the abbots started to abandon their residence because of the political-military situation; so began the decay of the Abbey until its suppression, which took place in 1773 after a resolution of the Venetian senate, when the church became a simple parish. The complex was entirely restored in the 14th century; at that time, the cloister was also erected.

The current church dates to 1757, when another Patriarch asked for a radical renovation to be carried out. The building presents a single hall with a cross-vaulted presbytery; adjacent to it, stands the bell tower and is also the 16th century cloister. Inside the church are retained a Baroque major altar, some frescoes dating to the end of the 19th century and an organ inserted within a valuable 18th century wooden frame; remarkable is also the large sculpture of a crucified Christ (in wood), dated 1466 and conserved in an atmospheric side chapel.    

Adjacent to the church, the massive stone building, looking like a tower and dominating the valley of the river Fella, represents the oldest remaining part of a fortified castle complex. Already existing in 1804, as documented by a deed of gift, it was turned into a monastery in 1119. Since it was used as prison during the age of Napoleon, it is traditionally called “Prison’s Palace”. The walls of the building are made of roughly squared stones, with just a few windows irregularly arranged; the external stone staircase gives access to the tower. A vaulted ceiling characterizes the interiors of the cells, at the lower floor.

The tradition affirms that the Abbey of San Gallo was erected on the ancient castle that the noble landowner Cancellino had given to the Patriarch of Aquileia Volrico in 1084, with the promise to build a Benedictine monastery. From the 15th Century onwards, the abbots started to abandon their residence because of the political-military situation; so began the decay of the Abbey, until its suppression occurred in 1773, after a resolution of the Venetian Senate, when the church became a simple parish church. The complex was entirely restored in the 14th C; at that time, the cloister was erected. The present church dates to 1757, when the Patriarch Daniele Dolfin asked the architect Luca Andreoli to carry out a radical renovation. The building presents a single hall with a cross-vaulted presbytery; adjacent to it stands the bell tower and the 16th C cloister, a retained Baroque major altar, some frescoes by G. B. Rigo and an organ inserted within a wooden frame.

Fortifications and Other Notable Buildings in the Area

A network of defensive military works, forts, barrages and artillery posts — with the relevant refuges, warehouses and barracks — was built at the beginning of the 20th century along the frontier between Italy and Austria-Hungary. The fortress of the Alto Tagliamento, including the forts of Chiusaforte, Mount Festa, Mount Ercole and Osoppo — and the battery posts of Col Curnic, Mount Sflincis, Mount San Simeone, Mount Cumuli and Sella Sant’Agnese — had been realized to garrison the valleys of the rivers Tagliamento and Fella. The works, carried out between 1908 and 1913, were dismantled and abandoned when Italy entered the First World War: only at Chiusaforte and Mount Festa the posts were partially working, and after the rout of Caporetto, the fort of Chiusaforte and the post of Col Curnic resisted for a certain time to the opposite attacks. The post of Mount Sflincis, dismantled and abandoned, could not obstruct the advancing troops. From the old layout of the Pontebbana Road (at km 175) starts the military road that takes to the summit of Mount Sflincis. Once left the first asphalted tract, and after walking for about half an hour, there is a hollow where are still visible the ruins of a rural house, while no traces remain of the artillery post.

The Abbey complex of Santa Maria and San Gallo stands on the hill of Santo Spirito: here were discovered traces of a Roman settlement and an early Medieval fortification perhaps still existing in the 9th century. The monastery was founded by the Patriarch Vodalrico I in 1119, and in the following centuries a wide and powerful feud developed on the properties of the Abbey. The Abbey was a fortified place surrounded by walls; three levels of terraces are still visible on the western side.

Villa Rodolfi, with the wide park at the back, is the only example of noble architecture to have survived in town. The villa has always belonged to the Rodolfi family, originally from Florence, and who settled in Friuli in the 14th century, as reported in some acts. The oldest core of the villa is the southern wing, housing the kitchens; the warehouses and the cattle sheds were originally located in the northern part of the villa. The building was raised and enlarged afterwards: the construction of a south-western wing transformed the original body into an ‘L’ plan. The villa, characterized by the central passing hall giving access to the park, was seriously damaged by the 1976 earthquake and later renovated, maintaining the original features. 


The Val Aupa

The Val Aupa (Val Aupe in the language of Friuli, Aupatal in German, Aupaska Dolina in Slovenian) is a valley of the Alpi Carniche, which puts into communication the municipalities of Moggio Udinese (Canal del Ferro) and Pontebba (Val Canale), in the Province of Udine.

The Val Aupa is 15 km long; it has a north-south direction, and is crossed by the homonimous stream. It starts by the Sella di Cereschiatis and it opens before towards the south-west, then towards the south, until the confluence with the Canal del Ferro in Moggio.

The whole valley displays quite steep, narrow flanks, rather precipitous but rich in woodlands, with also little patches of pastures and meadows here and there, used occasionally by grazing animals. Despite its rugged beauty, the valley has not enjoyed a great touristic development, like the nearby Val Canale has, and it is rather scarcely populated (only 230 inhabitants overall). In the summer season, however, it does reach 500 inhabitants, thanks to a flux of seasonal holiday makers. Coming from the south, one meets (in sequence) the small villages or hamlets of: Pradis (470 m), Chiaranda (420 m), Grauzaria (520 m), Dordolla (612 m), Galizzis (660 m), Bevorchians (690 m) and Saps (720 m). All of them are described in some more detail below.

Historic Buildings

Many ancient, historic buildings of the Val Aupa have been damaged and have disappeared because of the earthquakes of 1911, 1928 and 1976, but one can however still find some buildings of a certain architectonic value: in Dordolla the church of San Floriano (dating to 1895); the village of Dordolla itself, with its cluster of houses huddled one against  the other in a maze of tiny lanes; the ‘Mulino dell'Ors’ in Bevorchians, dating 1797, and the small barrack at Sella Cereschiattis, dating back to 1913. The oldest building of all, however – and still existenting – is a house at ‘Borgata Gallizis’ in Bevorchians, dated 1727. Also in Bevorchians – in the locality of Gravons – remains the wall of a sawmill belonging to the Pelis family; erected at the time of the Republic of Venice, it is present in this location since 1597, and it was active until 1915.

The Zootechnical Endowment

As of 2012, the zootechnical endowment in the Val Aupa was that cattle, goat and sheep are all present in equal measure. In the Val Aupa, only circa 40 hectares of meadows (over the around 80 hectares of meadows existing) are being scythed, because of the lack of incentives on the part of the province and the municipal administration for the maintenance of the uncut meadows (now fallow grounds), which display typically montane conditions, characteristics and gradients. In the val Aupa, however, one also encounters the ancient practice unique in the whole of the Canal del Ferro – of using the ‘stavoli’ (shelters) half-way up the mountain (‘di mezza costa’) for sheltering livestock before it was taken up to the upland pastures (a practice known as 'monticazione', which took place in April-May), and also after the 'monticazione', as the livestock  descended (September-October). Despite this ancient practice being fallen into desuetude, however, the ‘Stavolo dei Forans’ (in the upper Val Aupa past Bevorchians, at 857 m) is still being used by a local farmer from Pradis for this ancient custom, which – until 50 years ago – was common to almost all families in the valley. Now, he is the only one in the whole Val Aupa to take here his cows, before and after the summer 'monticazione' at Casera Glazzat.

Hamlets and Villages

Pradis is the first ‘frazione’ (hamlet) to be encountered to the right of the Aupa stream when rising towards the upper valley, and it is spread – with its 4 settlements – on wide terraces covered in meadows. The upper ‘borgata’ (village), at 480 m, offers a rewarding panorama over the southern side of the Creta Grauzaria (described below); from here one can continue in order to access the Val Alba Nature Reserve – uncontaminated and still relatively wild, when compared to most other valleys of Carnia (the reserve is described at more length in the Julian Alps page). From here one can also reach the ‘borgatelle’ (small hamlets) of Drentus (720 m) and Virgulins (700 m), which – despite the general abandonment – are inhabited by few determined families still attached to their ‘focolari’ (literally 'fires' – but here the expression here is taken to mean each ‘home’). The average altitude is 450 m. The hamlet of Pradis is being mentioned since 1448 with the name of ‘Seletti Pradis’.

Chiaranda is the second ‘fraction’ (‘frazione’) of the Val Aupa, and it is situated slighty more to the north than the former, at 420 m of altitude. It consists of a small agglomeration of about 20 homes, while more dwellings are located in the underlying valley floor. It is already mentioned in 1341 under the name of ‘Stauli Cjaranda’.

Grauzaria, 520 m, lies at the confluence of the Rio della Forcja with the Aupa stream, and is a cluster of houses strung on a natural terrace, covered by meadows. From Grauzaria one can reach the tiny hamlet of Monticello (840 m): a panoramic location with many meadows and wide vistas. The hamlet takes its name from a neaby mountain: the Creta Grauzaria.

Dordolla is situatated at 630 m of altitude, and is the more characteristic centre of the valley, with a tight settlement, compact and zig-zagged by tiny alleyways, somewhat similar to the Venetian ‘calli’. In Dordolla is also found the church of San Floriano, dating back to 1895 and situated at the top of the cliff that overlooks the Aupa stream. Right in front of Dordolla is the minuscole hamlet (‘borgata’) of Fassoz (624 m) and, lower down, the ‘borgata’ of Zais (540 m). In Dordolla was born – not so long ago – the ‘Cort dai Gjats’: an association for the safeguard and protection of the village.

The excursions that can be made around Dordolla are also very beautiful and rewarding; from the Provincial road – roughly 500 metres after the main bridge – on the right is a pedestrian bridge; one must cross it and rise along the enchanting path carved in the rock and known as ‘La Cengle’; after that, one arrives at Dordolla itself, and it is then possible to re-descend towards the Provinciale (Provincial road). Other walks are directed towards the ‘Stavoli Soval’ (750 m) and the ‘borgatelle’ (small hamlets) of Drentus and Virgulins. The village is mentioned for the first time in 1335 under the name of Dardola.

Bevorchians is the last inhabited settlement in the valley; it is formed of about fifteen ‘borgate’ and ‘casali’ (isolated farmsteads), disseminated on the slopes and along the small plateaus for about 2 km of length in the valley; the average altitudine is of 690 m. Bevorchians was once the wealthiest settlement in the valley, thanks to the rich woodlands of Griffon, Laduset, Valeri and Lius (one must also add that in this precise location of the Val Aupa was operational the penultimate zip-line of the ‘Valtellina’ type in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, used for the transportation of timber along the track ‘Gravons-Nais-Griffon’, in the period between 1972-1980); the reality of mining extraction (for minerals) was also quite important (the mines were active in the area of Rio da li Fous from 1872 to 1953), and so was agriculture (farming). These activities caused Bevorchians to be the most populated village in the valley since 1870 to 1990, when Dordolla took over.

In the past, Bevorchians held various records: the greatest number of ‘casere’ (dairy pens; 10), the greatest number of ‘mulini’ (watermills; 4), the only sawmills in the valley (2); the highest number of cattle grown (210 in 1925) and also of scythed meadows (circa 220 h); the first dairy Co-operative Society in the valley (1922 – and also the last, until 1976), the highest number of inhabitants (487 in 1944), and – lastly – the tallest and more stable houses in the entire Canal del Ferro (in the localities of Gran Cuel, 963 m, Costa De L'Andri, 971 m, and Costa Mozza, 962 m): these were all lived in throughout the year, according to the census of 1891. In Gran Cuel also lived consistently – until 1927 – the family of the Alpine guide Filaferro Sigisberto (1865-1950), responsible for the first ascent to the Creta Grauzaria (read below); here was also located the first – and last – school in the valley (active until 1970). The hamlet is mentioned since 1338 as Bavorchans.

In theory, Borgo Aupa and Moggio Basso would also be part of the val Aupa, as these settlements lay on alluvial deposits – precisely of the Aupa stream –; however, with the construction of the embankments along the stream in 1770, they fell into the hydrographic basin of the river Fella.

History

The history of this valley is strictly connected to that of Moggio; probably even before the arrival of the Romans there had been passages and small settlements of Gauls and Celts here, subsequently chased away by the Romans – around the 2nd century a.C. In the period that goes from the 2nd century a.C. to 1200 the presence of stable settlements can be excluded, even if surely the valley was being crossed by various people, and there must have been a few shacks or temporary dwellings.

After 1200 the valley, under the control of the Abbazia di Moggio, was expolited for timber and livestock rearing by the inhabitants of Moggio, who erected here their first ‘stavoli’, which subsequently became stable settlements. However, perhaps, the origin of Dordolla can be differentiated from that of the other villages, as it could have happened at a later stage, given that it lies in a rather eccentric position in regards to agriculture and livestock breeding: because of the Turkish threat – and the attacks in the years 1452-80 – part of the population could have settled in the actual site of Dordolla in order to defend themselves, precisely as the place presents good characteristics in that respect. However it is, the location is cited in 1335; Bevorchians in 1338; Grauzaria in 1420; Pradis in 1448 and Chiaranda in 1691.

Under the Republic of Venice, the forests of Black (or Austrian) Pine, Silver Fir and Larch present in the area were widely used; two sawmills were also erected there (in 1593 and 1620), and a carriage road wide enough for the passage of vehicles (for the transportation of timber) was traced in the vicinity of Bevorchians, as the low flow-rate and the irregularity of the stream's water regime did not allow to practice fluitation reliably.

In the years between the 1500s and 1600s the first ‘casere’ (dairy pens) were erected, and in this period it is estimated that the population of the valley would not be superior to 100 inhabitants. In 1815 the entire area became Austrian, and the population grew to circa 400 units. After the passage to the Kingdom of Italy in 1866, in 1880 was instituted the first school of the valley (in Bevorchians); then, a second one opened (in Dordolla) in 1905.

In 1910 the old road open to light traffic (some sections were dating back to 1870; others even to 1595), which took from Moggio to Sella Cereschiattis – damaged in various points –, was substituted by a “strada rotabile” (carriage way), circa 2,5 m wide. In 1915 the war broke out, and the head of the val Aupa was on the boundary line; therefore, all the area that goes from Monte Cullar to Palon di Lius – and further to the Crete dal Crons – became frontline (“prima linea”): here were built military presidia, infermeries, as well as dwellings for the soldiers who were employed at the front (passing at Bevorchians); even here – as in Carnia – however, it was the porters, who were to alleviate the hard labour of the ‘Alpini’. There were also a few explosions in the area of Bevorchians, but without substantial damage to the population.

Then the war also passed, and the twenty years (‘Ventennio’) of Fascist regime that followed brought with them the restoration of the valley road (1928), which had been damaged by the floods, and the institution of the schools in Pradis, Grauzaria and Chiaranda. Right after the second war, the Val d'Aupa peaked its historic (demographic) maximum: 1,250 inhabitants. Some years later, the heaviest phase of the phenomenon of emigration started, and it would hit hard: within 10 years, the population of the valley was reduced to 900, to then decrease progressively further, until the current 220 inhabitants. The earthquake of 1976 caused severe damage to the homes, which was further aggravated by the already marked population loss.

The flood events of 2003 destroyed about 5 km of the road from Moggio to Bevorchians, thus provoking the isolation of the area, which lasted for 15 days.

Curiosities

In 1916 the King of Italy – Re Vittorio Emanuele III – came to check the military ‘presidium’ (presidio) in Bevorchians, and that was the first time that a king ever set foot in the valley – and also the first time that a car entered the valley.

On 27th October, 1917, the population of the valley was obliged to evacuate the villages – not because the Austrians were advancing, but out of fear of sabotages towards the ‘Esercito Italiano’ (the Italian Army): a unique case in the whole of Friuli. The population that left can be resumed in half of the villages of Grauzaria, Pradis, Chiaranda and Dordolla, while the inhabitants of Bevorchians were all obliged to evacuate the village, even though – a few days after – they were granted a permit to stay, as – instead of evacuating – they could hide in the haylofts found in the localities of Pustots, Broili and Gjardonaz. The enemy, in fact, did not cause any substantial disturbance to the population that remained.

The flood of 1920 took away with it all the bridges and the pedestrian passages on the Aupa stream; about ten homes; a school in Pradis and two mills.

The first social dairy in the valley was instituited in 1922; in 1923, Dordolla was the first village to have electricity.

Since January 1944 to February 1945, the Germans estabilished themselves in the area of Bevorchians, where they fixed a military ‘presidium’, in order to contrast the action of the partisans present in the area, but without significantly disturbing the population of the village.

In 1953, the last watermill of the Val Aupa – known as ‘Mulino dell’Ors’ – stopped its activity, after more then 150 years of existence. Always in that same year, the mining site of Rio da li Fous was closed down too. The minerals (fluorite, galena and lead) extracted there – from 1872 to 1953 – amounted to about 12,866 tonns in all.

The main road of the val Aupa was tarred only as late as 1968.

As for the watermills, let us remember that there were 8 in the valley: the first one in Pradis, taken away by the flood of 1920; the second one in Grauzaria, where now is a trout nursery; two in Dordolla – one known as ‘Mulino dal Dognit’, which was situated at the confluence between the Rio di Val and the Aupa stream, and the Pâgno watermill, also located on the same ‘rio’ (brook), 100 metres upstream (the first was in working conditions until circa 1930; the second until 1915). In Bevorchians four watermills could be found: the first one, known as ‘Mulino dell’Ors’, was situated at the confluence between the Rio Fontanaz and the Aupa stream, and it was active until 1953; the second one, the ‘Mulino del Coset’, was active until circa the early 1920s; the ‘Mulin dal Dodoine’ – at the confluence between the Rio Moroldo and the Aupa stream – was active until 1919 and then transformed into a dairy; lastly, the ‘Mulin dal Cucjâr’, which was in the locality of Pustote and took power from the waters of the Aupa stream, was also taken away – just like the one in Pradis – by the flood of 1920.

The Creta Grauzaria (2,065 m) was ascended for the first time in 1893 by Arturo Ferrucci and Emilio Pico, guided by the brothers Giovanni (1855-1938) and Giacomo Filaferro (1870-1936), from Bevorchians. Giovanni Filaferro was the first Alpine guide of the val Aupa.

The best views over the Creta Grauzaria can be had from several locations, and with different angles: from Pradis Alto one can see the ‘Gran Circo’ (great cirque), and the boulders to the south, which wear away towards Cimadors; from the entrance to the gallery of the gas pipeline on Monte Masereit one can enjoy a nice frontal vision of the massif; from Dordolla one can see the imposing size of the mountain, and the large scree underneath it, while from the localities of Belcis, Saps and Costa dell'Andri – in Bevorchians – one has a vision of the northern side, with the 7-800 metres high vertical walls that are amongst the most beautiful sights in the valley for their majesty and grandeur. Please note that all the localities indicated above can also be reached by car.

At the base of the northern wall of the Creta Grauzaria, a snow deposit (‘nevaio’) remains until well into the summer – quite a considerable fact, for the altitude at which its is found (1,225 m); in July 2009, it measured roughly 70 metres in length and 25 in width; that same year, a patch of it – circa 10 x 5 m – remained in situ until the arrival of the new snowfalls the following December.

In the valley there are about 480 buildings – and more precisely: 160 in Bevorchians; 130 in Dordolla; 75 in Grauzaria; 70 in Pradis and 45 in Chiaranda.

The tallest building is the so-called ‘Cjasut da Siòr’, situated on a ridge of Monte Forcjadice, at the altitude of 1,732 m. It was originally a construction dating back to the first world war, but it was later arranged by volunteers as temporary shelter, which is now always open for walkers/trekkers.

The church of Dordolla has been built between 1891 and 1895 by the head of the families of Bevorchians and Dordolla, in common agreement between them for re-erecting the building in the exact location where an ancient chapel stood before – and this was because, being the settlement of Bevorchians very sparse, the head of the families of the two villages were constantly arguing on the location where the new church should rise, never coming to a decision; finally, it was agreed to build it – jointly with the inhabitants of Dordolla – in the same position where it can still be seen today.

 


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