The Fusine Lakes and hike to the hut Rifugio Zacchi (IT)
Two crystal-green lakes, framed by the massif of Mount Mangart, and an easy hike, which has its starting point at the upper lake and which ascends over an altitude difference of 450 m to the hut Rifugio Zacchi, is what awaits you on this excursion.
The directions are uncomplicated: coming from Villach take the highway to Italy until the 1st exit in Italy, Tarvisio. Turn left in the direction of the "laghi"/lakes and then continue on the SS 54, thus following the signs "Laghi di Fusine". In the village of Fusine in Valromana take a turn to the right, into the woods where the windy road soon reaches the lower of the two lakes. The drive is short - from Villach it takes less than half an hour to get there.
The lake's popularity with Italians, Slovenians as well as Austrians is due not only to their picturesque location amidst the basin of Mount Mangart - with an altitude of 2,677 m one of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps. The 'Parco Naturale dei Laghi di Fusine' attracts quite a diverse clientele thanks to a wide range of opportunities for relaxation:
The lower lake (924 m) offers gastronomy and is ideal for a short promenade. The upper lake (929 m), which varies in size, is very much sought-after by campers who have their picnics in the meadow by the lake or in the shadow of the trees in the surrounding woodland. Anyone, however, who seeks active recreation, finds opportunities to hike, climb and mountain bike, starting from the parking area of the upper lake.
As for the hike to Rigugio Zacchi, expect a hiking time of about an hour and 15 minutes, one way. From the upper lake follow the gravelled forest road along the mostly dry Vaisonz rivulet. After a few minutes turn left to the hiking trail 512. Look out for a big wooden sign with 'Sentiero Rif. Zacchi' and 'Strada Rif. Zacchi' on it, then you can't miss the turn-off. Take the 'Sentiero', the trail, which leads into the woods where the ascent begins, steeply uphill, but always in the shadow of the woods. Crossing a creek and some final winding turns you'll reach Rifugio Luigi Zacchi (1,380 m).
The hut was reopened in 2008, the most recent decoration with colourful little flags endow it with a Tibetan aura. It serves food and beverages, but there is also a picnic area a little bit above the hut, with wooden tables and benches for self-catering. From here, climbing routes to the western flank of Mount Hohe Ponza and of the Mount Mangart massif have their starting point.
The rocky landscape of the mountains around Rifugio Zacchi is often hidden in clouds, but is nonetheless always impressive and certainly daunting. On our last hike to the hut, we watched a huge sheet of snow coming loose below the peak of Mount Mangart and create a gigantic snow slide which fell in a dull rumble. For the way back, you might want to take the 'Strada', the gravelled forest road, which winds down in large loops to the parking of the upper lake.