To Sabotin Hill, the place of memory
Il monte lungo cui scorre il confine tra l’Italia e la Slovenia si erge al crocevia tra la Valle del Vipava, la regione transfrontaliera di Goriška, la valle dell’Isonzo e il Collio. I suoi pendii non offrono solo ottimi sentieri e percorsi, bensì nascondono una folta vegetazione originaria di diversi microclimi, oltre a essere casa di moltissime e rarissime specie di uccelli. Prima di tutto, però, il monte Sabotin testimonia la storia e le atrocità della Grande Guerra.
The top of the 609-metre high Sabotin Hill is reached from several directions. This route ascends the northern and descends the southern trail. Leave your car on the parking lot by the bridge across the River Soča, heading over it. To the right you will see the world-famous Solkan Bridge, impressing with its 85-metre stone arch making it the longest stone arch railway bridge in the world.
Just across the bridge, descend to the left onto a macadam road heading in the opposite direction of the River Soča's current. About half an hour later, signs will direct you to the left. As the trail starts to ascend, turn right at the fork and you'll soon be reaching the first caverns. Follow the marked trail or head through the caverns to get to the Sabotin snack bar.
The entire hill remains webbed with a subterranean system of caverns and wartime trenches you can explore to experience the terrifying mood of the bloody Isonzo Front. During the Great War, soldiers of 22 nationalities fought here, leaving behind indelible traces of history. In the former barracks there is now a museum collection. Expert guidance around the remnants is also available.
Did you know that the ridge of the Sabotin Hill is where the state border between Slovenia and Italy runs? After some 15 minutes of weaving between the two countries, you'll be reaching the summit with its ruins of the gothic Church of St Valentine from the 14th century. Here, splendid views open up on all sides. In the distance you can't miss the monumental basilica on Mt Sveta Gora, while the emerald River Soča flows underneath. Next to it is the millennial Solkan, reaching into the conurbation of the two Goricas. On the right bank of the River Soča lies the Friuli Plain disappearing into the Bay of Trieste, while to the west, the thriving vineyards of the Goriška Brda are basking in the sun.
The way down will lead you along the southern side of the hill. Be attentive to the unique assortment of plants, due to the mix of sub-Mediterranean and Alpine climates ranking Sabotin among the richest areas in Slovenia in terms of flora diversity.
Birds, too, have found their home here, with the rocky cliffs presenting excellent nesting spots. Perhaps you'll be lucky and hear the song of the rock bunting or the rare harrier eagle.
If you haven't enjoyed your warm meal on Mt Sabotin, do stop at the Žogica Restaurant in Solkan, famous for its varied selection of seasonal dishes and pizzas. Here, you can view the Solkan Bridge once again from a unique perspective at the banks of the River Soča.
Tip: Ascent along the northern side is suitable for older children. Those wishing to visit Sabotin without much exertion can take their car to the snack bar and walk the ridge from there.
Total walking time: 3 hours