Trieste, Lignano, Grado, Gorizia, Udine, Pordenone
Set in North Eastern Italy, bordering Slovenia and Austria, Friuli Venezia Giulia overlooks the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by high mountains.
The region, often simply called Friuli, is considered the “land of contrasts” due to the great variety of landscapes and rich and variegated cultural heritage that was determined by a complex history.
The impressive Carso plateau is formed by windswept rocks.
The mountain sceneries of the Eastern Dolomites (UNESCO site), Carnia and the Julian Alps are truly spectacular.
The coast is trimmed with lagoons and long sandy beaches, in the area of Lignano Sabbiadoro and Grado, or rather rocky around Trieste .
One of the jewels of the region is the ancient town of Aquileia, one of the most important towns of the Roman Empire. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its Basilica is also one of the most important examples of early Christian art.
Trieste preserves its own unique border-town culture and retains a fascinating air. By a walk you can come across Serbian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and Helvetic Evangelist churches, while the city’s synagogue is one of the largest in Europe. The old cafés, neoclassical buildings along the Grand Canal and other monuments reveal its glorious past. Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia, facing onto the harbour, is also Italy’s largest and probably most beautiful sea-facing square. The area was a favorite of James Joyce, who lived in Trieste for more than 10 years.
Miramare Castle is a white fairy-tale palace built for Archduke Maximilian of Austria, standing above the sea, with great views from almost every window in its sumptuous rooms. Along with the interior, tour the terraced gardens in the park for even more magnificent views over the Adriatic.
Another unmissable destination is the cosmopolitan Gorizia, with its Medieval castle, which is the heart and symbol of the town.
Udine is no less charming, with its ancient castle and the precious works of the 18th-century painter Giambattista Tiepolo. Its main square, called “Udine’s drawing room”, is where people meet for an aperitif or a coffee. By exploring the city, you can detect more than a hint of Vienna and Venice together.
Finally, Pordenone is well worth a visit, thanks to the elegance of its frescoed old buildings and arcades. Near Pordenone, the town of Spilimbergo with its beautiful frescoed palazzo, is famous for the many mosaics school in town.
Several other towns and small villages enrich the region: Grado, peculiar for its Venetian-style old town; Cividale del Friuli, the first Lombard dukedom in Italy. And the small town of San Daniele del Friuli that qualifies as one of the cured ham capitals of the world. Friuli is well known destination for wine & food lovers.
The most important typical product of the region is the Prosciutto of San Daniele, well-known and exported worldwide, followed by Montasio cheese and Sauris smoked ham. The most famous regional dessert is called gubana, a shell of pastry stuffed with dried fruit.
Friuli, one of the nicest Italian wine regions, produces some of Italy’s absolute best white wines like Friulano (formerly known as Tocai), Pinot Blanc and Ribolla Gialla. Winery visits in the hilly areas of Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli, the two top wine producing areas of the region, are highly recommended.