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.

 

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Where to find the best beaches in Italy

Where to find the best beaches in Italy

From secluded coves to lively seafronts, there are plenty of places to sun worship in Italy. But with an increasing number of hotels charging for access to the …

20 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook