<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Itinerario 6


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  Itinerary 6: following the footsteps of Rommel from Kolovrat to Matajur (on foot and by mountain bike)  
This route crosses the mountainside and therefore very worthwhile from a panoramic and historical point of view as it is totally immersed in the woods, apart from the mountains tops. This route starts from the Volče fields, near Tolmin/Tolmino and finishes on Matajur, the mountain on the border on top of Kobarid/Caporetto.

Description of the route
The Volče fields (San Daniele church) - Volče - Kamnica - Kovačič Planina - Pass Solarie/Solarje - Na Gradu (outdoor Slovenian museum) – Mount Piatto/Trinški vrh - Livške Ravne - Livek – hamlet of Perati (church of San Pietro e Paolo – Saints Peter and Paul) - Avsa - Idrska Planina (Mrzli vrh) - Matajur.

The total length of the route is approximately
18km. Here are the kilometres for each section:
Volče - Na Gradu approximately 5km;
Na Gradu - Livške Ravne approximately 4km;
Livške Ravne - Livek approximately 3km;
Livek - Mount Matajur approximately 6km.

Volče 198m;
Passo Solarie 996m;
Na Gradu 1115m;
Mount Piatto /Trinški vrh 1139m;
Livške Ravne 1037m;
Livek 690m;
Idrska Planina 1250m;
Matajur 1642m.

Level of dificulty:



The route starts from the church of San Daniele di Volče (Saint Daniel), in Slovenia near Tolmino.

Enter this route via the main road that links Nova Gorica with Kobarid (Caporetto) and Bovec (Plezzo). Arriving from Nova Gorica, having
entered Volče turn right; from Kobarid (Caporetto), however, turn left.

The church of San Daniele (Saint Daniel) is first indirectly mentioned in the 11th century. The origin of this sacred building dates back to
the 16th Century along with the frescos by Jernej/Andrea from Loka. Near the church of San Daniele there is a cemetery that dates from ancient times: here they brought their dead to be buried even from Bohinj and from the Slavia Friulana.
Both the frescos and the different architectural elements of the church of S. Daniele (as well as the bell tower) were damaged and destroyed in the First World War by the gun-fire of the Austro-Hungarian army. The Italian first line of defence passed near this church, on the Tolmino bridgehead which was on the right bank of the Isonzo.

From Volče, take the road to Most na Soči. Having arrived, after approximately 2km, at Poljance, turning left there is the outdoor museum
of Mengore, the fortified hill of the Austro- Hungarian army in front of the bridgehead of Tolmino. This hill, pointlessly besieged in all the battles of the Isonzo, was never occupied by the Italians. In the outdoor museum there are the ruins of the trenches of the Austro-Hungarian first line, used as artillery and observation posts.
The area of Volče was one of the focal points from where the 12th Battle of the Isonzo started better known by Italians as the Battle of Caporetto. From here Erwin Johannes Rommel started his mission. He was a young (he was going to be 26 soon) lieutenant of the Württemberg Mountain Battalion, in command of three mountain divisions and of one machine gun division.
Departed from the Slovenian city of Kranj on the 18th October 1917, the Württemberg German troops reached the front on foot moving by night through the tunnel of the Transalpina railway line at Podbrdo and then along the Bača valley(Baška grapa) so as not to be seen by lookouts and Italian spies. Already during the night between the 22nd and the 23rd October 1917, Rommel was ready on the north side at the foot of Bučenica (a hill 509 metres high 1.5km south of Tolmino, visible from the church of Saint Daniel). The next night, a massive gun-fire (also with poison gas shells) starting at 2am, destroyed the first line of the front and wiped out the Italian units. On the 24th October 1917, at about 8am, the great Austro-German offensive started, from the posts at the foot of Bučenica. Rommel’s troops easily defeated the Italian first line of defence on the Volče fields, which were positioned near the church of Saint Daniel.

The itinerary continues on foot to the village of Volče and beyond; towards the north-west this tarmac road heads to the top of Mount Kolovrat, to Solarie/Solarje Refuge, where the road links with the one that comes from Kambreško. This path, which begins along the west slope of Mount Hlevnik, is not the precise route followed by Rommel with his troops; it is simply advised for commodity. To be precise Rommel, having passed the Italian first line at S. Daniele, started to climb Mount Hlevnik along the north-east ridge, using a path that leads to the Isonzo valley floor and the village of Foni where there was the second line of defence, in the direction of Hlevnik – Ježa. At about midday on the 24th October he occupied the top of Hlevnik (876 m.) and without fighting took almost all the Italian soldiers he could find as prisoners. From there he went towards the top of Kolovrat (1114 above sea level) where there was the highly fortified Italian third line of defence.



As well as directly from Volče, Passo Solarie/ Solarje can also be reached by car from Kobarid/ Caporetto taking the main road towards
Nova Gorica. Arrived at Idrsko, turn right towards Livek (5 km) and then left towards Livške Ravne (3km); from here continue until reaching Passo Zagradan (4 km) and then Passo Solarie (about another kilometre).
FROM ITAL Y: for those who want to reach Passo Solarie/Solare directly by car, at Cividale del Friuli take the main road n°54 in the direction of Caporetto. Arrived at Ponte S. Quirino/Muost (4 km), turn right onto provincial road n° 19 towards Savogna/Sauodnja. After approximately 700 metres, turn right onto the provincial road n°11 towards S. Leonardo/Podutana and Drenchia/ Dreka. Continue straight (passing Scrutto/ Škrutove and Clodig/Hlodič). Straight away after Lombai/Lombaj (22 km) at the junction turn left. After the hamlet of Prapotnizza/Praponca (3km) turn right towards Passo Solarie.

From Volče take the main road towards Nova Gorica. Continue up to the Trattoria at Ušnik and turn right. Pass Volčanski Ruti and continue on the dirt road that links Kambreško with Kolovrat. At the crossroads with this road turn right towards the peak of Kolovrat

The name Solarie is presumed to come from the Latin “solarium.” This probably proves that Passo Solarie passed the “Via Romana” that
linked the Isonzo valley with the Slavia Friulana.

Arrived at Passo Solarie (intersection with itineraries n° 1, page 20, n° 2, page 29, and n° 5, page 49) between the two mountain border posts, almost in front of the Italian Guard post, there is a monument with a metal eagle on top in memory of the first Italian who died in the First World War. This was Riccardo Di Giusto, an Alpine Troop from Udine of the 16th Company of the Cividale battalion – 8th regiment. He fell at two in the morning on the 24th May 1915, the first day of war, in one of the first encounters with the Imperial Austro-Hungarian Royal troops when the Italian soldiers started the short advance that brought the front to the bank on the right-hand side of the Isonzo river, in the valley below. The research for finding the first fallen in the conflict and the building of this monument was financed by a public collection of funds proposed by Carlo Gallardi Rivolta from Milan.
Looking upwards at the monument from the front there are the steep slopes of the mountainous ridge of Kolovrat behind it which is on the bank on the right-hand side of the Isonzo river between Caporetto and Tolmino. This mountainous area marks the natural border between the Slavia Friulana and the high Isonzo valley. The state border between Italy and Slovenia runs along the summit of the tops of Na Gradu – Trinški Vrh (Monte Piatto) – Nagnoj and Kuk. Along this mountain ridge there is a beautiful panorama overlooking the Isonzo valley, dominated by imposing mountain tops (in front there is Mount Krn, better known as Monte Nero by Italians), and which streches from the Slavia and the Friulian plain to the Adriatic Sea on clear days.

Throughout the centuries Kolovrat has represented the border area between the Republic of Venice (and later the Italian State) and the
Austro- Hungarian Empire. The numerous boundary stones, different between themselves, are evidence of this and they can still be seen today along its peak. This mountainous ridge even now maintains a similar role.

The top of Kolovrat played an important role during the First World War. In May 1915 at the beginning of the conflic on the Isonzo front, the
Italian units took over the top of Kolovrat and started to make it stronger. The Italian army steadily built on it the wide system of its Third line of defence called “linea d’armata” . On its top there were numerous positions for cannons and lookout posts from where it was possible to watch the Isonzo front starting from the massive Mount Nero, Mrzli vrh and the bridgehead of Tolmino up to the Bainsizza plateau. From these elevated positions the Italians could shoot on the first defence line of the Austro-Hungarian army, on the main supply route between Tolmino and the Baška grapa and on other important targets in the Austro-Hungarian zone. Fortified trenches went all over the ridge of Kolovrat, similar to those that have been restored and can be seen at Na Gradu. Up to the 12th offensive of the Isonzo the front line in this zone did not suffer any major changes. In the first eleven offensives the Italian army was for the most part attacking. The big losses of the
Austro-Hungarian army showed that they would not be able to sustain another Italian offensive. For this reason the Austro-Hungarian command decided to counter-attack, starting from Bovec, Tolmino, Caporetto and beyond towards Cividale. In preparation for the 12th offensive of the Isonzo, Germany with its forces came to the aid of Austria-Hungary. The posts on Kolovrat (1114m above sea level) for the Italian army were one of the main places of defence in the 12th offensive. To the Official that was to take hold of the Austro-Hungarian command, the highest honour “Pour le merite” was promised. It was conferred to the lieutenant Schörner who, with his unit, in the German Alpenkorps, seized the positions of Na Gradu already in the night of the first day of the offensive. With numerous counter-attacks the Italian army attempted to regain their lost positions, but without success. In the occupation of the top of Kolovrat Rommel also played an important part with his unit. On the second day of the offensive he was able to penetrate the Italian defence lines on the top, approximately 800m east of 1192 above sea level (Nagnoj); on the third day of the 12th Battle of Isonzo with his unit he occupied the top of Matajur.

At this point the route can continue in different methods: along two tarmac roads that touch the ridge of Kolovrat, or along a path (red and white Cai trail sign n° 746) that continues along the mountainous chain tops. For those who choose the tarmac roads continue on the north side of Kolovrat, on the Slovenian side, or on the south on the Italian side across the mountain border post at Solarie/Solarje. Both roads lead to the foot of the Na Gradu hill (known during the First World War as quota 1114), where now there is an important outdoor museum. On the Slovenian road this site is marked by an Information board. On the Italian road, from Solarie/Solarje, after having gone up along a bendy road, a little less than a kilometre, take the wide and clearly visible path on the right that goes, in a few metres, up to the small col between the peaks of Na Gradu and Trinški vrh (also called Passo Zagradan) and beyond which there is the fortified site of Na Gradu.
For those who instead prefer the path on the Italian road after the first bend on the right there is the red and white Cai trail sign n°746. First the path climbs up the small peak of Na Gradu (also known as Mount Klabuk) and then descends on the plain below where there is the restored fortified site.


In the outdoor museum at Na Gradu there are command and observation posts; posts for machine guns and cannons; tunnels with more
than one floor dug in the rock and an interesting spiral staircase that links fortified posts with a tunnel below; and a thick network of linking trenches built on both sides of the border. These have all been rebuilt and are free to visit. The uniqueness of this reconstruction is the fact that original materials have been used from the First World War (such as metal nets to reinforce slopes, corrugated iron, slate stones). It is also possible to observe the frugal use of cement which resulted in the poor resistance of this fortification during the Battle of Caporetto. This in fact fell during the evening of the first day of the offensive, crushed from the heavy artillery barrage and gas from the enemy.
The Slovenian part of the outdoor museum on the Kolovrat has been created by the institution “Fundacija Poti miru v Posočju” (foundation “Paths of Peace in the Isonzo valley”) of Kobarid/ Caporetto as the information board positioned next to the road explains. Here, during the First World War an important main supply route passed that linked the zone behind the trenches with the Italian positions on the bridgehead of Tolmino, or to be precise the first and second lines.
On the small Passo Zagradan plateau, very near to Na Gradu, there is a watchtower which today is in ruins. It reminds us of the “Iron
curtain” and of the “cold war” periods. It was a small barrack used by the Yugoslavian Federal Army to patrol that section of the border, which was particularly easy to cross. At first there was a permanent military contingent then, with the steady increase in Italian-Yugoslave relations, the garrison was closed during the winter months. During the Second World War on the Kolovrat there were bloody fights between the partisans and the Italian and German army. The tombstones on the top of Mount Kuk and at Livške Ravne are in their memory.

The path marked with the red and white CAI trail sign n°746 that runs on the top of Kolovrat is very interesting for excursionists (even
though a little more tiring it is not forbidden for those who are not trained). Here we can understand the development of the Italian Defence lines and with Rommel’s famous war diary “Infanterie greift an,” it is almost possible to follow his footsteps and be accompanied by the words of the young lieutenant (who in the Second World War became the famous “Desert Fox”) in order to relive an important part of the “Battle of Caporetto”.
In fact, looking at the northern Slovenian side from the ridge, it is possible to see, in a few areas, the difficulties in watching the steep ground immediately underneath in front of the Third line of defence. Rommel took advantage of this fact for his silent infiltration. There are two important points which mark the success of the German lieutenant on the Italian Defence lines who were feared by their enemies. 800 metres east from Mount Nagnoj, in a small col, Rommel’s men were able to infiltrate into the Italian trench surprising the soldiers as they were sleeping because they were convinced that they were still far from the centre of action. This manoeuvre allowed Rommel to advance, taking advantage of the actual trench, up to Nagnoj and then he took advantage of the road open to heavy traffic on the Italian side. The festoons, with which this was masked so as to hide the movements on the Austro-Hungarian troops also protected the German soldiers that advanced going round the Italian defences on Nagnoj and on Mount Kuk. On this latter peak, the trenches were innocently created – Rommel himself stated – looking only towards the Isonzo valley and did not adequately control the road open to heavy traffic behind. When the Italians realised Rommel’s infiltration, they hastily attempted to build trenches on the eastern side of Mount Kuk, but because of the rocky ground they were not able to and they remained under the fire of the Württemberg gunmen. This same rocky ground amplified the effect of the Austro-Hungarian weapon fire as it discharged a precipitation of stones and debris on the Italian infantry, supporting the actions of Rommel. If they had been Trenched on the opposite side of Mount Kuk, protected from the outline of the mountain, the Italian troops – Rommel himself admitted – would probably have been able to permanently stop his advance.

Turning instead onto the tarmac roads that go round the tops of Na Gradu and Trinški vrh, both link up on the Slovenian side and continue to Livške Ravne and further on up to Livek.
For those who proceed via car it is necessary to indicate that the road on the Italian side, at the moment of the publishing this guide, is

closed at the bottom by a barrier: in order to go by car it is therefore necessary to return to the border post of Solarie/Solarje and from there take the parallel road on the Slovenian side. It is probable that with the entrance of Slovenia in the Schengen Treaty (December 2007) the barrier will be removed. But it is better to make sure beforehand by asking at the Solarie Refuge.

Livške Ravne is one of the highest villages above sea level in Slovenia. Zgornje Ravne is 1050m above sea level. Right next to the road, on the left there is Dom Kavka, a small ex-barrack transformed into a summer and winter camp for youngsters where they do school and extracurricular activities.


The tarmac road continues therefore towards Livek. This is not the road Rommel took; from Ravne he cut through the woods in order to


reach Polava, which was in Italian territory along the road that joined Livek with Cepletischis/Čeplešišče (commune of Savogna/Sauodnja, in Italy). There, with a small group of men, they blocked this fundamental route of withdrawal for Italian troops, seizing a large amount of arms and vehicles and also a few thousand prisoners.

Between Livške Ravne and Livek, on the right-hand side of where there once was a hostel for skiers, there is now a new tourist complex of apartments: Nebesa. Where there were once ski slopes now dears graze in a fenced area.

Popular tradition states that in the zone of Livek there was the lake Livško jezero. This theory is also confronted with the etymology of the
name; Livek, lijak (funnel, sink) or rather a place where water flows.
Livek and the villages nearby up until 1814 were part of the Republic of Venice. This is evident by the boundary stone near the village of Golobi on which there is the coat of arms of the Republic of Venice and of the Hapsburgs. Livek went under Austrian domination in the 19th Century.
Here it is possible to visit the church of San Giacomo (Saint James) which is one of the eldest in the territory and was part of the Patriarch of Aquileia. It dates from the 16th Century. Next to the church there is a huge lime tree that has been there for over 400 years.
In the village of Golobi (house number 5) it is possible to visit a private museum of the First World War where the events of the Italian Third Line of defence are presented. For over ten years the owner, Peter Hrast gathers, mainly on Kolovrat, relics and findings of the First World War. In his museum he has over a thousand pieces on show.

The route continues along the old road of Livek leaving from the village. The indications put in front of the school directs towards the right.
Following the trail sign through the woods you reach the church of SS. Pietro e Paolo (Saints Peter and Paul). According to the inscription on the stone of the bell tower it is said to have been built in the 16th Century (1540).
The road continues from Livek through Perati up to Avsa (860m.). Excursionists have at this point two routes for climbing Matajur.
FIRST ROUTE: Just before the village of Avsa turn right along a narrow cart road which then turns into a path. The route goes through a wood and a number of meadows. Following the indications, after approximately an hour’s walk, you reach Idrska Planina under Mrzli vrh (1359m.)
SECOND ROUTE: Follow the road that goes through Avsa and after approximately 500 metres indications direct to the right. After about an hour’s walk through fields and woods, following the trail signs, you reach the dirt road under Mrzli Vrh. From Mrzli Vrh continue along the dirt road up to the basin/fountain of Tršca. From here there is a path that divides into junctions; both paths lead to the top of Matajur. The one to the right is a little steeper and passes on the Slovenian side, the one to the left runs along the ridge and is mainly on Italian territory.

Once again it is worth noting that, for commodity and continuity of the itinerary neither of the two routes here mentioned are exactly the
roads followed by Rommel in his occupation of Matajur. He, avoiding as much as possible roads and paths, went up from Polava to Jevšček (we are once again on Slovenian territory. It is possible to get to Livek by car). Here he, in order to avoid a strong fortified Italian post that dominated the village and is still visible today attacked from behind the night between the 25th and the 26th October. A section of this Italian Defence line has now been restored and can be visited. From Avsa continue straight until the end of the tarmac road and a little
further, for approximately 200m, on a dirt track. A signboard marks a restored trench at the top and at the bottom of the road; the inside can also be visited. At the top the renovated section is rather short; at the bottom it leads to Jevšček (calculate about an hour to cover this section and to return). After having passed this obstacle, Rommel went to the now Italian territory under Mount Kraguonca and then towards Mrzli Vrh and Matajur. Rommel again states many times in his diary “Infanterie greift an” the harshness and difficulty to climb Matajur.

An alternative road, nearer to that of Rommel, is advisable only for those who from Livek can go by car. Continue towards Italy (direction Cepletischis/Čeplešišče) passing through the small villages of Šturmi and Polava. Approaching this last village, it is possible to imagine the surprise of the retreating Italian soldiers from Livek seeing, from behind a bend, the German Alpine men and the Württemberg gunmen appear all of a sudden on a road behind the lines that should have been safe. From Cepletischis/Čeplešišče take the road towards the peak of Matajur; leave the car in the village of Masseris/Mašera. From here take the path marked with the red and white CAI trail sign n°736 that joins Rommel’s path after Jevšček. There is a shorter alternative (marked with the red and white Cai trail sign 736A) but it goes more towards the west of the route Rommel took.


Cross the village of Avsa and after approximately 1km the tarmac road ends. Continue along a relatively flat dirt road, an Italian military road that passes Planina Sleme and a crossroad under Mrzli vrh. The path on the right leads to Idrska Planina, whereas that on the left turns towards the bottom for the first brief section and then starts to go up. The road finishes near Tršča. From here up to the top of Matajur continue on foot. We advise the Italian road. It takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the top.


From Livek go towards the border posts passing through the village of Šturmi. Continue passing the villages of Polava and Cepletischis/Čeplešišče. Here at the junction turn right towards Masseris/ Mašera and Montemaggiore/Matajur (955m) then go up to the Pelizzo Refuge (1320m). From here you reach the top of Matajur on foot.
FROM SLOVENIA: Near Kobarid/Caporetto, along the main road heading towards Nova Gorica; having arrived at the village of Idrsko, turn
right in the direction of Livek (5km) and from here enter Italy. At Cepletischis/Čeplešišče (3.5km) turn right towards Montemaggiore/Matajur (6km) and then continue straight up to the Pelizzo Refuge. From here path easy leads to the top of Matajur on foot.
FROM ITAL Y: for those who want to reach the top of Matajur directly by car, from Cividale del Friuli take main road n° 54 in the direction of Caporetto. Having arrived at Ponte S. Quirino/Muost (4km), turn right onto provincial road n°19 up to Savogna/Sauodnja (8km), then continue up to Cepletischis/Čeplešišče (6km), Montemaggiore/ Matajur (6 km) and then always continue straight to the Pelizzo refuge. From here a path easy leads up to Matajur on foot.

The name Matajur dates to the time of the Romans. It is an abbreviation of the words “Mont major” and today it is still called
Montemaggiore in Italian, the highest inhabited village of the mountain (in Slovenian it conserves the name Matajur). Matajur (1641) is the first mountain of a certain height commencing from the sea and from the Friulian plain towards the north-east. As a symbol of the Slavia Friulana it has an important place in the hearts of the Slovenians of Benecia. The sunny southern part has a more gentle relief than that on the northern side that steeply goes down towards the Isonzo and Natisone valleys.
On its southern side the villages of the Slavia are dispersed. From its top, when the sky is clear, it is possible to see southwards beyond the Slavia to the sea and north-west up to the Dolomites. On the Slovenian side there is an extraordinary view overlooking the Alpi Giulie and the Isonzo valley. On the top of Matajur there is the state border. From the 1st May 2004 Slovenia became member of the European Union and right next to the boundary stone on Matajur and then at the Pelizzo Refuge on that day there was a big exhibition. On the top there is an interesting chapel of Cristo Redentore.

During the Second World War on Matajur there were a number of bloody battles between the partisans and the German army. The most
violent was that of the 9th November 1943 when a battalion of the SS attacked the Bazoviška Brigade near Montemaggiore. That day 32 partisans died. On Matajur and on its slopes there were also partisan dispatch stations, bunkers, offices of organisations and committees as well as the hospital of Skalca.