The Val Resia is situated between the Julian
Alps (Alpi Giulie) and the Julian Pre-Alps (Prealpi Giulie), enclosed between two mountain chains: the high crags of Monte Canin (2,587 m) and the long range of the Monti Musi (1.878 m); to the north, it borders with
the territory of Chiusaforte, while to the south are the municipalities of
Lusevera and Venzone. To the west is the territory of Resiutta; to the east, the border with Slovenia. The valley is transversal, and it raises gradually
for about 20 km with an west→east direction – all the way to Coritis, which is
the easternmost hamlet. The ‘gateway’, so to speak, is
represented by a short stretch of narrow gorge, carved between two steep rock
walls at the valley entrance, by the village of Resiutta, which
lies at the confluence with the main axis of the Val Fella (of which the Resia is a tributary). The valley takes its name precisely from this stream, whose
limpid waters cross it in its entirety; the Resia has its springs on the Monte Baba and Monte Guarda, while as a constant backdrop there is the fascinating
outline of the Canin massif.
The municipality of Resia is one of the vastest in the entire province of Udine, as it extends for almost 120 km², of which nearly half are covered in woodland; the main village is Prato di Resia, seat of the local government; in addition, there are 5 other villages and numerous smaller hamlets: the main ones are San Giorgio (Bila) with Prato (Ravanzä) and Stolvizza (Solbiza), which are on the geographical right side of the valley, while Gniva (Njyuä) and Oseacco (Osoane) are on the left.
The hamlet of Uccea (Učjo) is also part of the municipality of Resia, even though it is rather distant and near the border with Slovenia, in the valley bearing the same name (Val Uccea): a rather short and narrow valley, which is parallel to the Val Resia.
The hamlet of Coritis (Kortyö) – the farthest one – is inhabited only during the summer months, and lies at the foothill of Monte Canin, over a small but splendid plateau surrounded by mountain peaks, while Lischiazze (Lišcaze) is right under the high, impressive cliffs of the Monti Musi, and near the Rio Barman – a stream that forms an impressive waterfall in correspondence with a karstic spring: this waterfall is a phenomenon of rare beauty, and it is known as Fontanone Barman. Gost is the name of another small and atmospheric hamlet near Lischiazze; it is immersed in the green of open fields and meadows, beech woods and extensive Black Pine formations, while the houses of Zamlin – laying low in the valley floor – enjoy the beauty of being along the banks of the Resia stream.
Of all these hamlets and villages, only Stolvizza and Coritis escaped the worst of the devastations brought by the damaging earthquake of May 1976, and therefore they are the only ones to keep their original architectonic characteristics intact, with some stone houses displaying the typical wooden balconies and the small quaint courtyards. In this respect, Stolvizza is particularly interesting: it is clustered on a sunny, stony slope just under Monte Sart, in a position from where it can dominate the whole valley, while Coritis is situated right in the shadow of Monte Canin, which closes the valley as a scenic backdrop.
From a geological point of view, the valley is entirely sculpted in Dolomite; particularly spectacular are the remains of glacial activity; the alluvial terraces – rising above the valley floors, with slopes from about 10 to 100 meters high (as in Zamlin) – host all the main settlements, and are delimited by escarpments covered in vegetation. After the end of the last glaciations, the glaciers retreated and reached the course of the stream, blocking its course. A lake therefore formed, whose remains are documented by outcrops of lime and clay – typical sediments left by a former basin that was then filled up by the deposits of the lake itself, and by the detritus and gravel carried along by the water courses. In its place, now is a vast plain characterized by numerous terraces that enliven the landscape along the central section of the valley. The ancient glacial front can be recognized thanks to the calcareous rock boulders that crop out near the localities of Prato-Ravanza and San Giorgio-Bila, and that – along the banks of the stream – create an incredibly varied environment, rich in deep pools of very pure water that alternate with small waterfalls.
The particular climate of this area – characterized by high rainfall amounts, mild temperatures and limited thermal excursions – determines a typically oceanic regime that favours the development of a diverse vegetation and the presence of a rich fauna. On the sunnier slopes – characterized by poor, permeable and rather shallow soils – mixed formations of Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia) and Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus) dominate, with the presence of Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) and Beech (Fagus sylvatica); then, at higher altitudes and on deeper soils, develop the beech woods, while above 1,400 meters one can find only scrubs of Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo) and sparse stands of Larch (Larix decidua). Higher still, the landscape is characterised by the prairies typical of high mountain habitats.
As for the fauna, in the Val Resia coexist elements of Mediterranean origin and of Eurasian provenance; here one can find all the main Alpine mammals: amongst the most common are Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus), Hazel Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) and Eurasian Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris); rarer to spot are Wild Cat (Felis silvestris), Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) and Brown Bear (Ursus arctos). There are several members of the Mustelidae family – such as Weasel (Mustela nivalis), Badger (Meles meles) and Marten (Martes foina) – as well as many rodents. There is also a certain presence of birds of prey, many Passerines and an elevated number of passing birds (the valley is crossed by migratory routes). Numerous, too, are the species of birds belonging to the Tetraonidae, Corvidae and Picideae families, as well as representatives of the Herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) and Entomofauna (insects).
This secluded valley has remained completely isolated for centuries. For a long time, the road that now connects it to the rest of the region was no more than a mountain trail; it was then enlarged, but it was transformed into an actual road only as late as 1927. The scarcity of communications and the rather isolated position of the Val Resia have led to the preservation of the local idiom (which belongs to an ancient Slavonic lineage), as well as of the customs and traditions, which only now – with the rapid changes linked to better communications – tend to blend and are at risk of disappearing.
Rather famous are also the ballads and the music typical of the valley, as well as the celebrations connected to the local carnival, known as ‘Pust’, and the rituals linked with the circularity of the agricultural year (which is rather short in a mountain setting).
The waters of the Val Resia drain, for a small part, also towards the catchment area of the Isonzo – and even the Danube. In fact, the Rio Uccea belongs entirely to the basin of the Isonzo: the whole length of this short stream – between the Forcella di Carnizza, where it springs, and the outlet by Saga di Sotto, in Slovenia – is of about 15 km, of which around 9 are in Italian territory. It forms almost anywhere, along its course, a rather narrow and wild canyon, not very accessible, and into which – roughly half-way – drains the Rio Bianco that descends from the geographical right side.
Monte Canin is a mountain in the Julian Alps, on the border between Slovenia and Italy. Its highest summit, Monte Canin Alto, is 2,587 m above sea level. It separates the upper Soca Valley in Slovenia from the Resia valley in Italy (municipalities of Resia and Chiusaforte). It is the last massif of the Alpi Giulie in Italian territory.
On the Slovenian side of the mountain, which is part of the Municipality of Plezzo (Bovec), lies an important ski resort, which is the highest in the country. There is also a cave on the mountain – the Vrtoglavica Cave – that holds the record for the deepest single vertical drop of any cave on earth, at a depth of 603 metres (1,978 ft).
Mount Canin is an important identity symbol of the people of the Resia valley, and several popular songs in the Resian dialect are dedicated to this mountain, which the locals call Höra ta Ćanïnawa – or simply Ćanen.
The mountain group of Monte Canin is constituted by a colossal calcareous plateau, 1,800-2,300 m high, culminating in a large ridge that runs the whole of its length. Only towards the east does this ridge bifurcate, giving origin to the val Mogenza. To the south, towards the basin of Plezzo, the plateau takes on the shape of a large sea of rock. On the northern side, in Italian territory, there is a glacier (in fact three small glaciers, which with their 2,200 m of altitude are among the lowest in the whole Alpine range); like many other similar ones in the Alps, however, these glaciers have been in strong regression in recent years, in consequence of the climatic changes.
From the summit one can enjoy a vast panorama: towards the north is the Jof di Montasio (2,754 m) and the Jof Fuart (2,666 m), towards the east are the Mangart (2,677 m), the Jalouz and the Tricorno (Triglav) (2,853 m); towards the south open up the plains of Friuli, and – in the distance – glimmers the Adriatic Sea.
The group of Monte Canin, together with the Prealpi Giulie, is directly affected by humid southerly currents, in particular the winds that impact on the mountain from the S and SW, and which, by not finding obstacles, bring particularly intense precipitations.
This high rainfall amount is reflected in the very high amount of snow that falls during the winter season. (the weather station by the Rifugio Gilberti, at Conca Prevala (1,830 m), records an average of 7 m of snow in the period November-March, which can reach up to 10 m on the Canin plateau, at 2,200 m. This is in fact one of the snowiest regions in the Alps – second probably only to some mountains of Styria, in Austria.
The Altopiano del Canin (Canin plateau) is intersected by karstic phenomena, due to the dissolution of rock because of the action of water. In this way, caves, wells and galleries form, as well as other phenomena which are typical of deep karstic activity, and which make Monte Canin a very well-known area also at international level. To make it particularly famous are the very deep abysses that sink in the limestone on the plateau – often for hundred of metres. In more recent years have been discovered caves that – allegedly – are more than 1,000 metres deep.
Monte Canin is one of the most beautiful and better known mountains of Friuli. It opens up on the Prealpi Giulie; it is well visible – on clear days – even from Udine (the regional ‘capital’ city) and from a wide stretch of the plains of Friuli. It owes its notoriety also to the events connected to the first world war, when Italians and Austrians fought on its slopes. All these events are narrated in the Alpine song known as, precisely, Monte Canino.
Now the flanks of the mountain are being crossed – on both the Italian and the Slovenian side – by the ski slopes of the stations of Sella Nevea and Plezzo. However debatable that might be, works are underway in order to connect the two localities, with the creation of a unique ski area (carrousel), situated between 1,200 and 2,200 m of altitude.
Excursion to the Summit
From Sella Nevea one can reach Rifugio Celso Gilberti, 1,850 m. From the mountain hut, one climbs to Sella Bila Pec. One can then descend westwards towards Sella Grubia, and continue to the front moraine of the westernmost glacier on Monte Canin, steep and full of cracks, and that one climbs up towards a canal that leads to the east of the summit. From there, one can climb the wall that connects to the base, a little to the east of the above mentioned canal, thus reaching the ridge that – by continuing further westwards – takes to the summit.
The Monti Musi – Lis Musis in the local language of Friuli – are a mountain chain of the Prealpi Giulie, and are part of the Regional Park of the Prealpi Giulie.
Along a ridge that keeps at around 1,800 m of altitude, there are three main peaks belonging to the long chain of the Musi; these are:
- Monte Cadin (1,818 m)
- Cima Musi (1,878 m)
- Monte Zaiavor (1,816 m)
This mountain is like a bastion, calcareous in nature, which represents the central section of the long chain that delimits to the north-east the plains of Friuli, from where the Monti Musi are well visible. Closed to the west by the peaks of Monte Plauris and isolated by the Val Resia – which lies to the north – these rocky crags have preserved intact a lot of their naturalistic heritage, displaying a wild fascination that leads many tourists to accomplish excursions at all times of the year.
Because of the particular orographical conformation of this mountain chain and its aspect – exposed to the humid currents that come up from the Adriatic sea – this area is characterized by a particularly elevated rainfall; on the Monti Musi, in fact, are registered the highest amounts in the entire region as for yearly rainfall, and one of the most elevated in the whole of Italy (average above 3,000 mm/y).