The Way stage by stage
The way stage by stage
- Prologue: Barbana - Aquileia
- 1. Aquileia - Aiello del Friuli
- 2. Aiello del Friuli - Cormons
- 3. Cormons - Castelmonte
- 4. Castelmonte - Masarolis
- 5. Masarolis - Montemaggiore
- 6. Montemaggiore - Rifugio A.N.A.
- 7. Rifugio A.N.A. - Prato di Resia
- 8. Prato di Resia - Dogna
- 9. Dogna - Valbruna
- 10. Valbruna - Monte Lussari
The information provided here is also available in one single compressed file, named Detailed itinerary and relevant maps under the section Accommodation and useful information.
The "Iter Aquileiense way" also know as "The Heavenly Way" is a route brought back to life thanks to a group of people belonging to different associations, coming from very different backgrounds. Most of them didn't know each other, but they had one thing in common: they were all pilgrims, women and men embarking on a journey to reach a spiritual destination. Many of us have experienced the Way of St. James (to Santiago).
We are Italian, Slovenian and Friulian people and we hope that the Carinthians too will join us soon. We love our region and we want it to be a peaceful place, one of fraternity and friendly coexistence among different people and cultures. This is why we made an international route where pilgrims of different nationalities can come together to reach the same destination: the Sanctuary of Mount Lussari. For centuries the people of Friuli-Venezia Giulia have come here to revere the image of the Virgin Mary. They used to reach this place following trails that we succeeded in uncovering thanks to the creative and religious marks left along the way by the pilgrims, over the years.
The Iter Aquileiense was opened in summer 2006 with the blessing of our bishops. It consists of 3 itineraries each starting in a place of historic and religious significance. The first itinerary starts in Italy, from Aquileia, the town where the Gospel was first announced and from where the missionaries started their journey toward the heart of Europe to spread the Word of the Lord. The second itinerary starts in Slovenia, from Brezje, a village near Kranj representing the most important place of invocation to the Mother of God in this country. The third itinerary starts in Austria, from Maria Saal, a town near Klagenfurt with a wonderful 8th century church which is actually a relevant place both for the history of Carinthia and the cultural/religious identity of Central Europe. The pilgrims take a journey on foot leaving from 3 different places and meet in Camporosso to ascend Mount Lussari together, reaching a summit of 1790 m.
The Italian itinerary starts in Aquileia and crosses Cormons, Castelmonte, Cividale, the Gran Monte park and the Resia and Dogna valleys. The Slovenian itinerary starts in Brezje and crosses Jesenice, Kranjska Gora, Rateče, Fusine and Tarvisio. The Austrian itinerary starts in Maria Saal and crosses Klagenfurt, Maria Wörth, Maria Gail (soon available), Arnoldstein, Coccau and Tarvisio.
We did this pilgrimage for the very first time from 7th to 15th August, assisted by friends who helped us to carry out this "baptism". Thanks to this experience, we now know what to improve and adjust to improve the route for future pilgrims. On June 2007 the Way was metaphorically "delivered" to the pilgrims. The pilgrims start the journey whenever they want, organising the itinerary the way it best suits them, choosing among the several trails available.
The Iter has been so far a local pilgrimage, but now it is hopefully evolving into something bigger: it is becoming part of a wider and international network of pilgrimage routes. With this in mind, all of us - and me in particular as route plotter - are working hard to provide pilgrims with safe and suitable trails across our beautiful region, as well as promote the most beautiful and relevant places and the cultural aspects of the area.
A detailed Italian guide of the Heavenly Way entitled "Il Cammino Celeste - A piedi da Aquileia al Monte Lussari" ("The Heavenly Way - from Aquileia to Mount Lussari on foot"), Ediciclo publisher-Portogruaro is already available to the public. The guide is 178 pages long, it features 120 colour pictures, 25 geographical maps (1:25,000 scale) with trail details and descriptions. Ask your bookseller to order a copy of the guide, or alternatively you can order the guide from Edicico's website: "Il Cammino Celeste" - Ediciclo Editore.
In future we plan to publish this guide in other languages too, in order to offer pilgrims from all around the world the chance to experience an engaging spiritual journey permitting growth in faith, hope and compassion.
Please note that what we are talking about is not (and is not intended to be) an organised trip. There is no registration, no organisational structure and no personnel to inform the hospitality points of your arrival (you must inform them yourself). The Way is an "open trail", a collection of suggested itineraries among which you can choose the best for you. For us, and from an historic and religious point of view, it represents a Path of Faith, but everyone is free to walk it and live it in a personal way, while still honouring and reflecting the "spirit of the true pilgrim”. This website is dedicated to the Friulian route (from Aquileia to Mount Lussari) and to the Austrian route (from Maria Saal to Mount Lussari). The webpage dedicated to the Slovenian route is currently under construction.
The Friulian path suggested is divided in 10 stages which proved to be the adequate number for this route (on the opening day there were just 9 stages). Pilgrims may organise their journey according to their personal interests and needs, as in every pilgrimage. Indeed, you may choose whether to follow the standard itineraries or take a personalised one. You can choose accommodation different from those most commonly recommended and also take interesting alternative routes such as the one suggested to reach the “Abbazia di Rosazzo” (Rosazzo Abbey).
Now that the Italian-Slovenian border has been opened we are currently preparing an alternative route running along the border and passing through several interesting places. This route has been named "The alternative route of the Sacred Mountains". The name comes from a shorter route, used as starting point to organise the alternative trail. This alternative route starts in Aquileia, passes through San Canzian then, once in Sagrado, climbs up the Karst and enters Slovenia. Once in Slovenia the route crosses Mirenski Grad (Miren Castle), Kostanjevica (Castagnavizza), Sveta Gora (Montesanto) and Marijino Celje (Maria Zell) to finally re-join the Heavenly Way in Castelmonte.
Finally, a couple of words on the criteria used to trace the path and select the best routes. Basically, we just followed those principles well known by every pilgrim:
1) There are ancient pilgrimage paths worth walking because of their spiritual meaning, but sometimes the original ways are not available anymore because they have been replaced by new roads.
2) Main roads can be dangerous for those who travel on foot carrying a heavy rucksack on their backs. Pollution is a problem too.
3) Main roads are noisy, which is not helpful if you are looking for peace and silence, even when you are looking within!
4) When on foot you usually prefer to take the most direct routes.
5) Dirt roads are kinder on feet, which is an important consideration for pilgrims on foot.
6) The nicer the route, the better.
7) The proximity of inhabited areas to the route is important to meet any needs pilgrims might have, and particularly for overnight accommodation.
Finally, we truly hope that whoever embarks on this pilgrimage, regardless of the reason, has a heart full of humility and is ready to embrace whatever this experience offers.
…and whatever route you take: "May it be a good one".
The Iter Aquileiense, also known as the Heavenly Way or the Way of Aquileia, is a new pilgrimage route. As such it is still evolving, and this affects many aspects of the itinerary.
The Iter is made up of a variety of routes and existing paths that were already available to walkers. All have been inspected, therefore even if the road you are about to take is a cart track or a trail, don't worry: most of the time it will be accessible, the only potential obstacle being snow. However don't forget that although part of the Way, these roads are not maintained by dedicated personnel and the "unexpected" could always be around the corner, even if you are walking plains: road works in progress or detours could force you to modify course. Unfortunately it is not always possible to have up-to-date news about the road conditions, therefore in case of problems, do not hesitate to report them in writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Heavenly Way can be walked end to end from June to September only. In winter the roads are often covered by snow and in some cases snowfall is so heavy that more than half the whole iter is unaccessible and the pilgrims can walk only the initial stages.
If you have walked the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, then you will know that the topography of the Spanish territory would potentially allow for the construction of roads almost everywhere. Even hiking trails can be approached will little concern for safety.
The territory of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is different from the Spanish one: it is less accessible. This is why we often had to choose the safest option among mountain routes, main roads or longer paths. Generally speaking, the main objective of a pilgrimage is not physical fatigue, but when necessary, the pilgrim doesn’t shy from the challenge of a more demanding route. Considering its varying altitude, the Heavenly Way can therefore be quite demanding at times and there is no comparison between the Santiago Way and the Heavenly Way at all. The Heavenly Way is just 200 km long, but you will have to ascend more than 6700 m and then descend almost 5000 m. This means pilgrims must be ready for a physical challenge.
One more thing: it is well known that walking in the mountains is more than just gentle slopes and nice trails through the woods. This means that despite our efforts, sometimes we couldn't avoid some routes where pilgrims will have to be particularly careful because of the width of the trail, the slope or the steep side of the mountain and so on... Anyway, it goes without saying that it pays to be careful at all times and not just when walking the above-mentioned routes. However there are no tracks that require technical skills.
The guide clearly highlights the few difficult sections along the way. Apart from these sections, all the other routes are easy to walk and require no particular caution or skills. If you suffer from vertigo or similar problems you can take one of the many alternative roads that run at the bottom of the valley, they are paved but usually longer.
There is one more important aspect to consider: footwear. When you walk across a plain trekking sandals are good, and light trekking shoes are usually enough to walk forest roads. Nevertheless sometimes forest roads and trails in particular may require a pair of hiking boots or at least ankle boots to support your feet and ankles. In addition to this, don't forget that Eastern Friuli is one of the rainiest areas in Italy.
Please note that the starting and finishing points of some stages are sometimes intentionally "generic" or take churches, squares and so on as a point of reference, to allow pilgrims to find the road to take, independently of their accommodation. As far as the names of small villages are concerned, you will find them all on the guide, but don't expect to find relevant road signs along the way, especially if you walk country roads. To help you orient yourself we matched the texts of the guide and almost all the crossroads on the maps with numbers allowing you to ascertain your current position.
Moreover the itineraries are marked in blue, to help you take the correct road when there is a choice of more than one.
There shouldn't be problems at all because all relevant routes, trails and paths are described in careful detail. But sometimes what is clear or not relevant to the authors may give rise to doubts for pilgrims, therefore please don't forget that:
A) byways and byroads not described are not relevant to your itinerary;
B) if there are no specific directions for a crossroad go straight on or at least continue walking along the same road.
Accommodation and hospitality points:
As far as accommodation and hospitality points are concerned, you will find the dedicated PDF "Detailed itinerary and relevant maps" under the section: Accommodation and useful information.
As for the Santiago pilgrimage, the Heavenly Way has its Credential too. The Credential is the document whose primary function is to attest that the traveller is a pilgrim and not a tourist or a hiker. As a consequence, if you don't have the Credential some of the accommodation structures along the way might decide not to host you.
You can download the Credential from the webpage Accommodation and useful information under the section "Pilgrim's credential "; you can also collect it at the Souvenirs Shop:
"Souvenir Aquileia" di GHIRETTI Andrea
via Patriarca Popone 2 - Aquileia
"Libreria Souvenir alla Basilica"
piazza del Capitolo 4 - Aquileia
You can also collect the Credential in Aiello del Friuli, from Mr Claudio Peloi, mob. phone: +39 328 002 8816 and from Mr Aurelio Pantanali, mob. phone: +39 324.7776584. Finally, you can ask for the Credential also in occasion of the periodical meetings of the association "Iter Aquileiense" (see webpage Events), provided you advise the cited contact person in advance:
If this is your first pilgrimage or if you are not an expert hiker, you will find useful suggestions contained in the PDF file "The Heavenly Way - suggestions" under the section Accommodation and useful information.