The pathStart point: "Sant'Uberto" parking Length: 3 km (1.9 mi) Height gain: 100 mt (325 ft) Round trip: 40 minutes Destination: Podestagno GPX: Download our GPX route
The hikes that lead to the ruins of the Botestagno fortress starting from "Sant'Uberto" parking area is a simple walk, suitable for everyone. It will take you less than one hour and will allow you to visit an historical point of interest of Cortina d'Ampezzo. Unfortunately, there is very little left of the castle to see, there are only a few meters of foundations and some walls, but from there you'll be able to see an amazing panorama of the "Boite River Valley".
This hike can be found on the Tabacco Map 003 - Cortina d'Ampezzo e Dolomiti Ampezzane and follows the Path 201.
It is a really simple and relaxing walk. You will need approximately twenty minutes to reach the ruins and another twenty minutes for the return. Considering the shortness of the path, we will describe a deviation, on the way back, to go to see the location of Ospitale, where you will be able to see the oldest small church in Cortina and one of the oldest inns in Italy, that has been renovated many times and is still operational.
How to get there
The "Sant'Uberto" parking area is where our walk begins. It is a gravel parking lot where it's possible to park with a 5€ daily fee. It may be really packed during the peak season, so you should get there as early in the morning as you can, to improve the chances of finding a free space. From the center of Cortina you'll need to drive approximately fifteen minutes to get there.
If you can't find a free place for your car, or you don't want to pay the parking, or you need to get as close as possible to the "Podestagno Castle Ruins" you will need to proceed along the road in the direction of Dobbiaco (Toblach). You may try to park in one of the few lay-bys along the road, or you may proceed further until the cantonment house of "Podestagno" and park in the small parking area in front of the house.
This is also the stop of the bus in the direction of Dobbiaco (Toblach). If you decide to start from here you should skip the first part of our article ang jump directly to the chapter of the cantonment house.
If you choose public transportation, consider that there are not many buses, approximately one every two hours. We recommend going to the ticket office of the bus station to receive precise information. Be careful, as the office may be closed during the lunch hour.
If you don't have a car, or you don't want to struggle finding a free spot for your car, you may take a Taxi. From Cortina the cost will be, approximately, 30€, but it may be a good idea to ask the price before. You can find a taxi in Piazza Roma, or at the bus station, or by clicking their website.
Once you've reached the Sant'Uberto parking area you have to find the path that will lead you to the cantonment house. It's not so easy to see. You have to pay a little attention, as the castle ruins are not a very known destination, so the road is not well signposted. You might risk going the wrong way.
The best thing to do, in order to avoid errors, is to walk back in the direction of the state road and take the intersection to the left, right at the end of the parking area. You have to take the dirt road that is blocked by a bar and has a ban on vehicles, a round red and white sign.
Although it may seem obvious to follow the majority of people, you don't want to reach the most touristic destinations: Ra Stua and Fiames. You have to take the route where probably almost no one is going, in which case it means it is the right direction.
Once you've crossed the bar, keep walking for about ten minutes along the state road in the direction of Dobbiaco (Toblach), until you see a red cantonment house, the first destination of the hike.
Once you've reached the cantonment house you'll have to cross the underpass and cross the street from below. A curiosity, the cantonment house, in Italian "Casa Cantoniera", has this name because it was used by the cantonieri, who are the workers in charge of road maintenance.
After you've crossed the road you'll see a sign of the parco naturale delle Dolomiti d'Ampezzo, that means "Natural park of the Ampezzo Dolomites". Here you can read some information about the place you are visiting. From there you'll have to take the road to the right, as clearly indicated by the abundant signposting.
You will need only a few minutes to cross the meadow of the Cason de Podestagno. It is the name of the small, private, wood chalet that you can see in the middle of the meadow.
From here you will only need a very small effort to climb the last ascent that separates you from the ruins of the castle.
La zona delle rovine del castello di Botestagno è stata da poco valorizzata, installando delle interessanti tabelle informative sulla storia del luogo, riportando alla luce dei nuovi resti ed installando parapetti in legno per la sicurezza dei visitatori.
Come già accennato in precedenza, da qui è possibile godere di una splendida vista su tutta la valle ampezzana, che è anche il motivo per cui, in antichità, si decise di costruire un avamposto proprio in questa posizione.
The area of the Botestagno castle ruins has recently been enhanced by installing information boards about the history of the location, unearthing new remains and installing wooden railings for the safety of visitors.
As mentioned earlier, from here you can enjoy a splendid view of the entire Ampezzo valley. The reason why, in ancient times, it was decided to build an outpost in precisely this location is that it allowed the soldiers to spot the arrival of enemy armies from a great distance.
Once you have completed your visit to the ruins of the Podestagno fortress, you could walk the same route back to your car, but considering how short and easy this hike has been, we recommend an alternative way to go back.
When you get to the sign of the Dolomites natural park, instead of turning left and crossing the underpass, you should continue along the gravel road, in the direction of the fraction of Ospitale. By doing so you will connect with the Ex-Railway road and, in about half an hour, you will reach the Ospitale restaurant and bar.
Here you can eat or drink something in one of the oldest inns in Italy, think that it's been in business since the 11th century. You may also visit the beautiful little church from 1226, the oldest in Cortina. The detour will take you about an hour, round trip.
This variant is not present on the map at the beginning of our article, nor on the GPX file of this hike. In any case, the road is perfectly signposted and it is practically impossible to take a wrong path. The only thing you need to pay attention to, on the way back, is to remember to turn towards Podestagno at the crossroads.
If you forget it, continuing straight along the ex-railway, you will reach the bridge over the Felizon river, which you may have seen from the castle ruins. In this case just go back a few meters and take one of the roads to Podestagno, always perfectly signposted.
In this chapter we want to give you a little more information about the fortress of Podestagno. The more observant of you may have noticed that, sometimes, we named the castle Podestagno, others Botestagno. This is not a typo, the place name comes from Boite-Stein, that means rock in the Boite river, but in Austrian German it is translated as Peutelstein. Over time the two definitions have, probably, been confused into two different names: Pode-stagno and Bote-stagno. To date, both forms are correct.
Another thing that most ignores is that Gregorio Vecellio, father of the famous painter Titian, was the regent of the Fortress of Podestagno in the late 1400s. He was also superintendent of the castle of "Pieve di Cadore", as well as counselor and captain of the Militia for Venice. His was a very powerful family in Cadore and, at that time, Ampezzo was under its jurisdiction.
The beautiful wood chalet you may have seen in the middle of the meadow is called the Cason de Podestagno. It is a property of the "Regole" of Ampezzo, this means that it is freely available to the whole community, but there is a but. To make it easy to explain, let's say that the family of the applicant must be native to Ampezzo. A citizen, if entitled, can apply and access it without problems, as long as he finds it free.
The fortress of Podestagno was an ancient outpost that stood in defense of Cortina since the eighth century. It became crucial following the conquest of the territory by Venice and, later, by the Habsburg Empire. If you are interested in the past of Cortina and the fortress of Podestagno, you may read our article, you can read it below:
In the Ethnographic Museum of the Regole d'Ampezzo there is a scale reproduction of the fortress of Podestagno, before it was destroyed. If you want to see the photography, or learn more about the museum, we suggest you visit our page on the three museums of the "Regole" of Cortina:
The last curiosity is about the underpass that you crossed near the cantonment house. The structure has not been built for the passage of people, but to allow deer to pass under the state road, without risking being run over. These animals tend to follow the same paths, and here there's a high passage.
The hike to Podestagno Castle is only practicable in the summertime. In winter the route is not beaten and it is traversed by a popular cross-country ski trail. Usually the best months for this walk are between May and November. This is an approximate estimate, but unfortunately it is not possible to know in advance how much it will snow and when the snow will melt.
Even though this hike is really simple, you should always use sturdy shoes and carry a backpack with some water, a snack and a jacket for the rain. If you want more information, we recommend you read our tips for first-time hikers:
We want to emphasize that, in the Dolomites, there are rules to be followed. The main ones are:
- It is strictly forbidden to light fires.
- It is strictly forbidden to pick plants and flowers.
- Free camping is prohibited.
- It is prohibited to abandon garbage.
- It is mandatory to keep pets on a leash.
We hope you liked this page on the hike from "Sant'Uberto" to the ruins of the fortress of "Podestagno". Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
If you like our website and you'd like to thank us for the work done, you can give us a little help or a contribution by visiting the page ❤Support us.