The CARSO is the Italian name for limestone uplands that rise from the Venetian plain south of Monfalcone and eventually merge into the Istrian plateau. Although within a thirty-minute bus ride of Trieste, it feels like an entirely different country, and is geologically, botanically and demographically distinct from anywhere else in Italy. Most of the Carso now lies within Slovenia (its Slovene name is Kras), and even the narrow strip inside Italy, though supporting a population of just twenty thousand, remains distinctively Slovene in culture, boasting places with names like Zagradec and Koludrovica.

The particular shape and look of the karst landscape is due to the weathering of the limestone bedrock by water and wind, and the surface of the plateau is studded with sinkholes left by streams which have formed vast caverns, underground lakes and rivers. This distinctive landscape and the unspoiled natural environment make for fine walking, and you can stop for refreshments at an osmiza, a rustic eating place where farmers sell their own produce, such as cured meats, cheese, olives, hard-boiled eggs, bread and wine (ask the tourist office for a list of check osmize.com).

Like all limestone landscapes the environment is harsh: arid in summer and sometimes snowbound in winter. The thick-walled houses are built to withstand the blasts of the bora, the fierce northeasterly wind which can reach gusts of 145km/hr – when it’s at its worst ropes are strung along the steeper streets in Trieste.

 

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Why Turin should be your next foodie break

Why Turin should be your next foodie break

Not so long ago, Turin (Torino) – Italy’s great northern powerhouse – was largely ignored by tourists, unfairly dismissed as little more than a giant Fiat…

26 May 2017 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
6 enticing alternatives to Italy's big sights

6 enticing alternatives to Italy's big sights

You’ve hiked the Cinque Terre, gondola’d down Venice’s Grand Canal and got Renaissance art fatigue in Florence’s Uffizi. So what’s next? Italophile Na…

15 May 2017 • Natasha Foges insert_drive_file Article
The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

Is there anywhere in the world as easy on the eye as Italy? From art-filled cities to heart-stopping coastlines and gorgeous landscapes, you could criss-cross …

26 Apr 2017 • Natasha Foges camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month