This breathtaking location is where we celebrated Jim’s birthday earlier this year. We took a gondola up to the top of Monte Lussari to spend the night at a cozy mountain hotel. This has to be one of the most amazing scenes we’ve ever seen. Both images were taken at the magical Blue Hour. We set up early, tripods firmly rooted in the deep snow and then we waited — and ran circles around our tripods so that we wouldn’t freeze to the ground. It was coooold but so rewarding once the amazing glow started happening. The steaming bowls of pasta, glasses of red wine and blazing fireplace afterwards were an additional much appreciated treat.
Monte Lussari high above Tarvisio at the 3 country corner of Austria, Italy and Slovenia is a beautiful destination for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. However, the 16th-century church on top of the mountain is also a sanctuary and symbol for the unity of Slavic, Italian and Austrian ethnic groups and has been a destination for pilgrimages since its beginnings. Magrit remembers her grandmother making the pilgrimage up to the high-alpine chapel at a time before ski lifts allowed for easy access.
As legend has it, a shepherd found a statue of the Madonna in a meadow high up on Monte Lussari. He carried the statue down to the valley and handed it over to the parish priest of Camporosso. However, the next day — what did he find again in the same meadow up on top of the mountain? So he repeated the previous day’s routine. After several of these back-and-forth transactions, it became clear to the priest that the Madonna had a mind of her own and was determined to stay up there in the fresh mountain air with sweeping views over 3 countries. Since arguing with dieties doesn’t usually get you anywhere, the priest acquiesced and built a “home” for the statue which, from then on became a pilgrimage destination and is to this day considered a European sanctuary.
The best way to access Monte Lussari is to find your way to Klagenfurt, Austria (Magrit’s home town). From there, it’s a 45 minute drive to Tarvisio, just across the border in Italy. From Tarvisio drive to close-by Camporosso, park and take the gondola to the top of the mountain. If you want to spend the night, reservations in one of the few alpine hotels is recommended since accommodations are limited.