Just a little over an hour’s drive from Trieste, tucked away in the Julian Alps is the town of Tarvisio. This is a destination year-round for many locals looking to enjoy downhill and cross country skiing in the winter and hiking and biking through the natural beauty of mountains in the summer.
Tarvisio offers you all of this without the fuss and glitz of Cortina — is more low-key but no less chic or beautiful.
One of the major highlights of Tarvisio are the Laghi di Fusine, Fusine Lakes in English, Weißenfelser Seen in German and Belopeška jezera in Slovenian.
The lakes are of glacial origin, created when the glaciers began melting, carving away in the limestone two of the most spectacular lakes in the region. The valley, which runs parallel to the Italian-Slovenian border, has been a protected area since 1971. The lower lake (Lago Inferiore) is located at 3031 feet above sea level., has a maximum depth of 82 feet and a surface of 33 acres while the upper lake (Lago Superiore) is located at about 3047 feet above sea level has a maximum depth of 32 feet and a surface of 22 acres.
To access the lakes there are several foot and bike trails, although they can also be easily reached by car. The trails in the area are extensive and well worth exploring as they weave through one of the oldest and the largest forest in the Italy. The forest is filled with Abeti Rossi, a spruce genus that is renowned for its resonance and is used in the manufacture of musical instruments. The forest is also home to a myriad of flora and fauna including lynx and bears. At the lower lake you can rent row boats, swim and hike.
Also at the lower lake there is the Belvedere snack bar that serves sandwiches or, if you are looking for something more, you can walk over to the Edelweiss hotel that has a proper restaurant. There is even mid mountain lodge Rifugio Zacchi where one can have a simple but hearty lunch consisting of polenta and sausages or tagliatelle with rabbit ragu’, whatever is seasonal and available. The hike to Zacchi is a little more challenging, about an 1 1/2 hours from the Upper lake, but manageable.
In winter, the Fusine lakes area is one of the coldest places in the entire Friuli Venezia Giulia region and the lakes are often frozen from early December to March.
If you go early in the day, you can get the mirror effect of the mountains on the lakes.