The paths along the Tagliamento

There might be plenty of tourists who disagree with me, but I still say that spring is the best time of year. Of course summer is a wonderful season full of hot, bright sunshine, life and beauty, but I just can’t get enough of the months when the fields suddenly turn green, everything starts blooming, and the poplar trees alongside the river let loose seeds that float through the air like snowflakes.

There was a time when hardly anyone came along here, just the occasional local looking for wild herbs or the odd romantic soul gazing at the river. After all, the only settlements around here are small villages with just a few houses surrounded by countryside.

We’re far away from the beaches, bars, restaurants and bustle of summer. Nonetheless, over the years more and more people have started coming this way: everyone from solitary sports enthusiasts looking for space and silence, to families in colourful helmets who fill the air with the joyful sounds of children having fun.

People come here to savour the enchanting, restful natural surroundings. You can travel near and far on the paths with the greatest of ease. It’s a great place to take a break from the beach and marvel in the simple beauty of the fields and the river, which flows all of the way down from distant mountains to its nearby mouth, next to the lighthouse.

I know the river well. It is generous with its coolness but most of the time it quietly keeps to itself. Occasionally, it gets whipped up into a rage and its wild water send logs hurtling along before leaving them on the last stretch before the sea, like the skeletons of long-dead animals.

The Tagliamento is a rather retiring river that does not like being in the spotlight, but it deserves more attention because it is one of the last rivers in Europe to retain its original, natural form. I heard a boy on a bike talking all about it one day when he was showing a friend around.

The best time to come here is in the spring, when the season has just started at the resort. Take a break from the beach and spend a few hours enjoying the light on the longer days, the warmer weather and the cool mornings and evenings. All you need to do is grab a bike and follow the clearly marked roads and paths that lead here from the sea. You can find a little shade among the trees if you want to get out of the sun and from time to time you’ll suddenly come across an opening that leads to the river.

As you enjoy a leisurely ride through the fields and admire the scenery, you’ll notice lots of little red dots. I’m one of them: a poppy swaying in the breeze. As it blows, it brings salty air and reminds us that the sea is just around the bend in the river.