Ring walk: Lago Minisini, Forte di Monte Ercole, Monte Cumieli and Sella Sant’Agnese
- start: CAI 716
- length: 10.9Km
- altitude difference: 412m
- duration: 4h 00m
To the south of the hamlet of Ospedaletto, in Borgo Molino, take the dirt road called Via Monte Ercole, which proceeds between wooded hills to Laghetto Minisini, a pond set in a harmonious wooded landscape alternating with well-groomed meadow clearings. This little lake is one of the few remaining specimens of a periglacial lake in Friuli, and the largest natural body of water in the Prealpi Giulie, the foothills of the Alps in this region, dominated by thickets of reeds and cane, where the native water lilies still survive. Laghetto Minisini and the Rivoli Bianchi area form a “Site of Community Importance” (SCI) and a part of “Rete Natura 2000”.
Continuing along the path, we find ourselves on the military road to Forte di Monte Ercole, and we soon reach the fort itself. The entrance to the fortifications appears on the left side of the road, which continues along the side of Mount Cumieli. There are frequent panoramic views over the Tagliamento river valley, the Carnic Prealps and the amphitheatre formed by the moraine.
The area abounds in history: the peak of Mount Cumieli was the site of a hill-fort, while the ruins of a medieval tower are preserved on a spur of Mount Palombâr, in addition to the early twentieth-century armoured fort of Monte Ercole.
On the way up, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to examine the rocky layers forming the mountain, and are likely to find fossils. The path takes you to a saddle, where it branches in two, with one path leading to Mount Cumieli and the other to the saddle of Sella Sant’Agnese.
From the rounded peak of Mount Cumieli you can see the entire plain of del Campo di Osoppo-Gemona; to the west, where the high plane begins to decline, you may glimpse large square blocks of stone, the remains of a prehistoric hill-fort among the trees.
Sella Sant’Angese, the saddle on which the thirteenth-century chapel of the same name rises, stands on the natural boundary between Gemona and Venzone; in past centuries, travellers were forced to pass this way whenever the flooding of the Tagliamento River made it impossible to cross the plains below. The pasturelands have now become permanent meadows, surrounded by hornbeam and hazel trees. The view from the saddle extends over the alluvial fan of the Rivoli Bianchi to the north and the plains of Gemona to the south. To the west stands the rounded profile of Mount Cumieli, while to the east, it is the sharp crest of Mount Deneal that stands out, introducing the Cjampon mountain chain, offering an outstanding opportunity to observe limestone stratification: the movements caused by a great fault have bent the layers of rock so that there appears to be a huge “fan” on the rock wall.
On the way down, along the northern edge of the alluvial fan of Gemona, is a rocky spur known as “Clap da l’Agnel”, produced by the slow action of erosion. When we come to Torrente Vegliato, we cross the stream and proceed along the street called Via da Fornâs up to the intersection with Via Vegliato, which then joins Via Cjamparis to return to the starting point of the excursion in Borgo Molino.
Notes and further information
The Comunità Montana del Gemonese, Canal del Ferro and Val Canale produced a video documentary entitled “IL LAGO RITROVATO – Storia, natura e tradizioni del Lago Minisini” (“The rediscovered lake: History, nature and traditions of Lake Minisini), illustrating the history and nature of Lake Minisini in Gemona del Friuli (UD), its environment and the local history.