Just outside the walled village of Venzone, it is possible to enjoy lovely views, exploring the paths inside the Prealpi Giulie Natural Park or walking through the old Celtic way which was connecting all votive churches all around the citadel in a unique and pleasant environment.
From the South Gate, entering Via degli Alpini and following the old way, you reach the church Chiesa dei Ss. Anna e Giacomo, probably built during X-XI centuries, which means during the period of pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. A hermitage was built annex to the church: a document from 1336 shows it as well as the remains. Different changes followed each other in the centuries until 1525 when a porch has been added to the church. The bell gable is typical.
The frescos indoors are from the XIV century, from the Vitale da bologna’s school; the bas-relief representing Saint Peter and Paul are antecedent. The frescos inside the presbytery are also coming from Vitale da Bologna’s school; you can admire the Annunciation on the wall at the back, the Theory of the Apostles on both sides and the Christ Blessing with the Evangelists on the vault. The small Lancet window at the side of the altar belongs to the primitive church (X-XI century).
After the short stop, you set out on the path that brings you to the next church, Chiesa di S. Caterina, XV century, built on a terrace on the slopes of Mount Bedede in front of the antique Celtic path coming from Gemona. The cemetery of people affected with the plague is situated on the churchyard and the tomb of the priest of Venzone, Felice Tavoschi, in front of the portal. He died in 1855 because of the Asiatic disease. Inside the church, you admire on the right a fresco representing The Mystic Wedding of Saint Catherine from Alexandria (beginning of XV century); on the left, there are two banners with pictures of Saint Catherine and Saint Anthony Abbot and a wood sculpture of Saint Catherine with the wheel of torture and her persecutor, Massimo Daja, laying at her feet.
After crossing the river Venzonassa, you find another church from XIV century, Chiesa di S. Antonio Abate, on a spur of Mount Plauris, at 852 meters. The presence of a hermitage can be deducted from documents dated 1358. In the presbytery, important frescos are representing the theory of the Apostles on the walls on both sides, Saint Anthony of Padova on the fanlight at the back and four stories about Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Peter Hermit on the vaulted ceiling. All the frescos are attributed to Gaspare Negro and are dated around 1530.
Back down to the built-up area, you find the remains of another church, Chiesa di S. Chiara, once Saint Mary and Clarisse convent, from the XIII century, not so far from the city walls and annexed until 1686 to the ancient hospital of Saint Mary (founded in 1261), then turned into the Clarisse convent closed in 1806 under Napoleon governance. Across the street, you find Palazzo Marzona and Palazzo Marpillero, two noble houses from XVI century, with a double sundial of XVIII century on the façade of the first one.
Along the roman route Julia Augusta, another church, Chiesa di S. Lucia, arises. Its origins are from XIV century but the external stone walls are remains from building works, stopped in 1917, to build a new presbytery. Saint Lucy sculpture is a copy, realised in 1990, to the original dated end of XV century coming from the Domenico da Tolmezzo’s school. On the groin vault ceiling of the presbytery, the Four Fathers of the Latin Church are represented with the four Evangelists. On both sides of the presbytery, some tears of frescos – XIV and XIX centuries – representing the Twelve Consecrated Crosses appeared on the walls.
The first hamlet, Portis, was completely destroyed by the earthquake in 1976: the whole population was evacuated and transferred northwards, where a new hamlet was founded on November 28th, 1981 and called New Portis. The old village is considered a “ghost village” because all buildings and ruins are now exactly as they were when people left. Arriving at Portis Nuovo, you find the church, Chiesa di San Bartolomeo Apostolo, built in 1991 after the destruction of the old one by the earthquake. The bell tower with its clock stands on the right side.
Going on northwards on the way to discover votive churches, you will find Chiesa di S. Maria del Carmine, located between the two hamlets, New Portis and Carnia. The small church, XVII century, with an octagonal shape, shows an altar indoors with stucco decorations and an elliptic altar piece representing Madonna and Child handling the scapular (XVIII century)
Further north, you arrive in Stazione per la Carnia, born on rivers Tagliamento and Fella confluence which has always represented the crossroads between the two mountainous areas of Friuli Venezia Giulia: Carnia with Carnic Alps and Canal Valley with Julian Alps. This hamlet knew its most important development in 1879 when the railway Udine –Pontebba became operational. Here is the explanation of its name’s origin: Stazione per la Carnia: railway station for Carnia. The church, Chiesa parrocchiale di S. Pietro Apostolo, rebuilt in a modern style after the earthquake in 1976, was consecrated on October 10th, 1998. Indoors, you can admire the Group of the Crucifixion, valuable work of art made of walnut by Franco Maschio, native of Friuli, who made also the walnut holy water font.
Walking back towards Venzone, if you make a detour you can visit Pioverno, the last hamlet, laying on Mount S.Simeone slopes on the west bank of the river Tagliamento. The church Chiesa della Beata Vergine Immacolata of Pioverno has been built in 1988 with simple architectural lines after the destruction of the previous one caused by the earthquake in 1976. The original one, built between 1735 and 1739, has already known a radical expansion during the XIX century when it was built with neoclassic architectural lines. Now the church preserves the wood crucifix made by Bruno De Cecco in 1980 and the small golden bronze door of the tabernacle, made by Antonio e Livio Pascolo in 1988. The bell tower was characteristic with its 39 meters, made of white limestone completely worked out by the local stonecutters; but only the down part is now remaining.