27 March 2024

Among villages and nature: the authentic paths of Carnia

We discover ancient trails, local food and wine, and the unique multibuilding hotel in Comeglians

Here we come to the conclusion of my Carnic winter tale. We’re on our fifth episode, and like Thumbelina I leave you here with the tracks of my previous tales (one, two, three and four).

Today I take you to Comeglians, a small town that I am sure many of you will have passed on your way to Sappada or Val Pusteria, it’s just after Ovaro: you drive along the state road and arrive right here. The first step is to check in at the Albergo Diffuso di Comeglians: the concept is the same as the one I mentioned a few articles ago. Old houses with a typical rural style, old farmsteads and stables restored to offer guests a cozy stay, to be experienced as true locals! The reception is in a small hamlet, Maranzanis, and I fell in love at first sight with it!

Albergo Diffuso Comeglians is divided between the charming towns of Comeglians, Ravascletto, and Rigolato, the most beautiful villages in the Carnic mountains, which are also at a very short distance from the ski slopes of Mount Zoncolan.

In ten-minutes time, I reached my apartment at Paola's house in Vuezzis, a hamlet within the bigger hamlet of Rigolato where only twelve people live. The building dates back to 1893, and has been lovingly renovated, preserving the original wooden beams and stone: it houses two apartments that are connected by a door and allow it to become a unique vacation home. Each apartment has four beds, a bathroom, and an open space living area! Needless to say, breakfast is amazing, as always. Every multibuilding hotel that lives up to the name pays really close attention to the local products you’ll find in your apartment.

Yet, time doesn’t stop for anyone, and here came lunchtime: where shall we go in Comeglians? I decided to go to Albergo alle Alpi, of course, because it has an excellent restaurant, whose kitchen is run by marvellous chef Carlo! A fogolar will warm the spirit, while your palate will be satisfied upon the arrival of the venison fillet bresaola with white cabbage and apple, the frico cannolo with formadi frant, ricotta, and radicchio di Treviso. The dish you CANNOT miss here is the salami cooked in vinegar, the tastiest ever! You must also try the beef cheek with polenta and frico, the brovada nostrana and the sweet and savory cjarsons, pumpkin gnocchi, and canederli as first courses. An intense journey in full Carnic style.

Yet, that's not all there is to Comeglians. Here, you will also find an amazing craftswoman, the only one of her kind in Italy because she holds the record for hand-tufting (the art of creating soft carpets by inserting tufts of yarn into a fabric support). Her name is Silvia Di Piazza and fifteen years ago she threw herself into this new activity leaving her old job: hand-tufted rugs thus became her creative expression. Here she reproduces family photos, drawings, works of art such as paintings or develops projects in collaboration with designers and architects.

If you’d like to try your hand at creating your own rug, know that here you can participate in a five-day course to make a two-square-meter one with your own individual design and project! A maximum of two people at a time can learn this technique: did you know that here come people from all over Italy to have this experience?

I literally fell in love with it, a true expression of made in Carnia products.

Let's not forget we’re in the mountains, so let's put ourselves in the hands of Visit Zoncolan to find out what to do around here. For a whopping fifteen euros, I opted for a walk together with Lorenzo (an excellent nature guide), who took me on a loop suitable for all ages (including families) starting from the reception of the multibuilding hotel in Comeglians, passing through Clavais. Forests, open views of the Carnic Alps, villages, and stories: time really goes by quickly.

I will never stop telling you that if you come to Carnia your Bible must be Visit Zoncolan. Don't forget.

As it is now evening, the time for dinner has come, and I therefore want to experience something new. The choice fell on Albergo Aplis in Ovaro. Here, in summer 2023 they changed management, and in the kitchen now cooks an experienced chef who has returned to his mountains after traveling the world. My lavish meal began with a truly delicious San Daniele prosciutto bruschetta. I continued with my beloved cjarsons, which here are a little bit sweet and a little bit salty... they completely won me over, inside were raisins and chocolate with an addition of ricotta and herbs. This was followed by the "chef's delight" dish, with frico, sausage, porcini mushrooms, white cabbage with ciccioli, montasio cheese and polenta. Just divine. To end the meal came a sweet apple strudel and off I went to bed for a good night's sleep.

The next day the experience continued by heading up to Ravascletto where I would like to point out Morassi Sport: here you won’t only find skis and boots to rent (in an all-new, technological guise that includes digital and automated check-in), but also technical and niche skis, as well as leading equipment. In addition, the boot room has been deliberately created separately so as not to risk tainting the environment with bad smells 🙂 There’s even the chance to rent your own (heated) locker as well, which is to be opened directly with your ski pass.

In the restored part of the rental, there are also several wax and edge machines. This was my very first time seeing one of these machines (there are only a couple in the region): it allows you to have skis as good as new in only fifteen minutes. Crazy. Oh, for waxing they use a laser machine that guarantees perfect results.

I don't want to bore you with overly technical aspects, though. For those of you who are into bikes, you can rent an electric one here in the summer... It’s also good to know that Morassi dresses everyone with sought-after, high-end brands. From helmets to goggles, from footwear to jackets and ski suits, you can make your outfit look great here!

In conclusion, since we’re in Ravascletto, let's close this fifth and final episode of my trip to Carnia at the Hotel Bellavista for a lunch with the best of everything. So, fasten your seat belts because we’re going to take a time machine, in search of ancient, lost flavors... I’ll start with the dish you just CANNOT miss, which is the pork ribs cooked in a polenta broth, truly lascivous.

What set the tone, however, was the inevitable toc' in braide, which I found to be perfect here, just the way I like it: a soft cornmeal polenta and cheese. You will also find buckwheat blecs with game ragout and an amazing bread gnocco waiting for you. What about the cjarsons? Here, they’re made following an ancient recipe, they are sweet and come paired with ramandolo wine. Then followed an excellent modern dish, a tortello with blueberry dough filled with formadi frant, served with a red wine sauce and a pear cream. It was sublime. The venison sirloin cooked at a low temperature, served with a plinth of stewed cabbage is prize-worthy. I was then enraptured by a delicious and delightful chocolate cupcake.

And with the taste of chocolate still in my mouth, my trip to Carnia with Visit Zoncolan comes to an end. We walked for miles, discovered charming villages, ate delicious food, and savored the true essence of these authentic places. I bid you farewell hoping to have intrigued you and with a recommendation: remember that Carnia is beautiful at all times, be it autumn, spring, summer, or winter.

Don’t set any limits to yourselves.

Bye, friends!

Chiara

Ph. Michele Grimaz

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