You won’t find Bordano on any general map of Italy, only on a more specific regional one. Bordano is a small town in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in the northeast of Italy. To reach this enchanting town entails going through Udine and it is worth stopping over for a quick visit.
Nestled between Monte Festa and Monte San Simeone, Bordano was the scene of some of the worst battles on the Italian-Austrian front during World War I. Right at the top of Monte Festa is a fort which still bears testimony to the devastating war. Yet the town that was once a battlefield is now a place more closely associated with peace, love and innocence. Today, Bordano is known as “The Land of the Butterflies.”
Visitors catch their first glimpse of butterfly land on Monte San Simeone. This mountain and the surrounding areas, including the small towns of Bordano and Interneppo, have a special microclimate where numerous species of butterflies thrive.
The region used to be known only to a handful of scholars around Europe who would go there to study the beautiful insects. This all changed when Enore Picco, an enterprising mayor decided to put Bordano-Interneppo on the map. During the 1980s, Picco and a journalist friend wrote a book about the beauty of the area and its peculiar richness. Butterflies, or pavees, as they are called in the local language, is derived from the Latin. From that moment on, Bordano became known as the ‘Land of the Butterflies.’
In 1995, Picco came up with an idea to give further credence to Bordano’s new alias – murals. In the summer of 1996, the first mural contest took place as artists from all over Italy flocked to the town to demonstrate their free interpretation of a single topic of butterflies. The contest still takes place today, though not always in the form of mural painting. Some years the contest involves poetry, short stories or other art forms, with a central butterfly theme.
Bordano is a corner of paradise with peace and tranquility that only mountain towns have. The tiny hamlet strikes you immediately for its cleanliness and the colorful terraced houses, all of which are brand new. The area was completely razed to the ground during a massive earthquake in 1976, causing complete devastation. The population, proud, independent and hardworking mountain people, did not wait for the government to intervene and started construction immediately.
The butterfly murals are spread out over Bordano and Interneppo, which is about two miles from up a winding mountain road from Bordano. The beauty of these colorful works of art is simply enchanting.
The initial arrival at Bordano is similar to entering a fairyland. All of the walls are covered in multi-hued, vivid murals and there are different stories at every turn. There are pixies playing with butterflies in a delicate fantasy world, knights in shining armor, battles on both sea and land, country scenes depicting farmers working in the fields and local craftsmen going about their daily work surrounded by fluttering butterflies.
Branching out from the streets in Bordano and Interneppo, there are paths where it is possible to observe these creatures in their habitat in absolute silence, a rare experience in modern times. The Butterfly House of Bordano, the largest tropical butterfly garden in Europe, is a universe dedicated to the lovely insects. Here the delicate creatures can be studied, observed and admired as they go about their lives. Landscapes of waterfalls and little lakes with exotic vegetation have been recreated and birds, lizards, fish and insects live freely and are useful for biological control. Over 400 species of butterflies from all over the world can be admired, all in one day.
One of the few hotels in the area, the Alla Terrazza, is found at the end of Interneppo where another surprise awaits – a glorious lake. Surrounded by mountains, Lake Cavazza spreads out below with breathtaking views. The area is also prefect for water sports, sunbathing and swimming.
A trip to ‘The Land of the Butterflies’ promises to be one the most interesting and incredible experiences of a lifetime.