Travelling in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy: all useful information

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is located in northeastern Italy, on the border with Austria and Slovenia, overlooking the northernmost part of the Adriatic Sea. The territory of modern Friuli-Venezia Giulia has always been a crossroads of cultures and a place of interaction between different civilizations (Latin, German and Slavic). Its inhabitants are therefore very open and ready for a dialogue with different peoples.

The north of Friuli – Venice Giulia – is occupied by high mountains. The inhabited valleys were washed by the rivers Tagliamento and Fella. To the west of the Fella lie the massifs of the Alps and the Alpine foothills. The part separated by the headwaters of the Tagliamento is called the Carnia. South of the Alps is hilly and here the region borders Slovenia. Here are the best vineyards and produce wines that are famous far beyond Italy. The provinces of Gorizia and Trieste have karst rocks, where you can find many crevices, caves (such as the Grotto Gigante) and underground rivers. The sea coast is quite low and sandy, with bays and lagoons (Laguna di Grado, Marano Lagunare). There are many first-class resorts such as Grado and Lignano Sabbiadoro.

The climate varies geographically, from close to the Mediterranean on the coast, to temperate in the hills and mountainous in the north, in the Alps area. The climate is best in Trieste, as it is washed by a deep sea to the south, and from the north is partially sheltered from the wind karst plateau. The main cities are Trieste (the capital of the region), Udine, Gorizia and Pordenone.

Tourism

Friuli – Venezia Giulia is a region where the sea and beaches are replaced by hilly foothills and then by mountains with snowy peaks. The eventful history of the region is reflected in its rich artistic and architectural heritage: ancient Roman Aquileia, medieval towns and castles, the capital Trieste, a typically Central European city. Tourism is well developed in the region, especially summer in the resorts of Lignano Sabbiadoro and Grado, cultural in Udine and the so-called agritourism in the many farms and vineyards. In winter, mountain skiing lovers come here (the resorts of Dzoncolan, Forni di Sopra, Forni Avoltri, Ravascolletto, Sauris in Carnia, Sappada Tarvisio, Sella Nevea, Piancavallo and Clout). The city of Cividale del Friuli is a monument of Lombard culture, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. History lovers must visit the archaeological excavations of Ancient Rome of Aquileia, the historical centers of Gorizia and Pordenone are also of interest. Nature lovers will appreciate the beauty of the alpine region of Carnia, the Regional Natural Park of Friuli Dolomites, the Regional Natural Park of the Julian Alps and the oasis of flora and fauna of the Marano Lagoon. Trieste, a city of Central European architecture, with the famous Miramare Castle, is magnificent.

Friuli is also famous for its excellent products: wines, hams and cheeses, as well as its original and simple cuisine, formed at the junction of Italian, German and Slavic cultures.

Enogastronomy

“Boretto, Graisana and Friulian frico, chiarzones from Carnia: these are just a few of the dishes that have appeared on the border of Italy, Austria and Slovenia. A huge selection of dishes will satisfy even the most demanding gourmet. Much of this abundance is due to the incredible variety of landscapes, nature and even climate of this region. Friuli – Venezia Giulia is a promised land for lovers of quality food and “agritourism”. Thematic routes dedicated to food and wine, or “roads of taste”, permeate the region from the sea to the mountain peaks. Nature, gastronomy and history merge to create the region’s unique cuisine and wines. The cuisine of Trieste and Gorizia is something between Austrian and Balkan traditions; Carnian dishes are full of herbs, fruits and mushrooms, Friulian cuisine is an original recipe and rich in flavor. The proximity of the sea is another big plus. On the coast you will find many restaurants and trattorias serving freshly caught fish and crustaceans. Friuli Venezia Giulia is also famous for its wines. Eight white wines are classified as DOC, three as DOCG, two more DOC wines are partly from the region. There are 1,500 wineries, many of them in uniquely beautiful locations and designed for tourists as well!

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Friuli-Venezia Giulia

The administrative region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a forced union of two parts of the country, culturally and historically dissimilar to each other. The unification occurred after the Second World War: part of the province of Venice Giulia passed to Yugoslavia. The province of Trieste remained under Italian rule and was later incorporated into the new region. There are many influences of neighbouring cultures, and in some aspects Friuli-Venezia Giulia resembles in many ways Austria to the north of it and Slovenia to the east.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

History and culture

There are three official languages in certain areas of the region, which is not surprising given its national composition – Italian, as well as Slovenian and Croatian. Slovene is even taught in schools, used in courts and office work, and bilingual signage is used in cities. German and Furlong, or Furlong, are also widespread. They have official status at the level of individual communes.

The origin of the name of the region is curious, especially the presence of the word “Venice” in it. The well-known city on the water is not part of the region, it is located in the Veneto region (Veneto).

The reason for this discrepancy is historical. In 1863, when Venice and its surroundings was a part of Austria, the idea emerged to divide Veneto into three parts: one of them was the center, the second was the Trentino region and the third was Venice-Giulia. In the latter case, it was a part of Veneto, bounded by the mountain range of the Julian Alps (Alpi Giulie). The territory, which after the war became part of Yugoslavia, historically has a Slovenian name Julijska Krajina. In Italy, only Trieste and the surrounding land remained of it.

In other words, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is Friuli with the provinces of Pordenone and Udine and the provinces of Gorizia and tiny Trieste, which occupy most of it (more than 90%), “left over” from the historical Venice Giulia.

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More than 1.2 million people live in the administrative region. Half of them speak Friulian. Today, this region is practically the only one where Friulian is still in use. It used to be common in Romania, but is now almost completely forgotten. Somewhere it can still be heard in Latin America. Furlong, as it’s also called, is based on Latin, or rather its vulgarized version, influenced by the Celtic languages. There are many borrowings from German and some Slavic languages. Since 1999 the Friuls are officially considered an ethnic minority. The language is taught in schools in some parts of the region and is used by the media.

How to get there

the region's main airport Ronchi dei Legionari

There are international flights to the region’s main airport, Ronchi Dei Legionari. It is located 30 km from Trieste. The closest airport is Gorizia (a little over 10 km), the most distant is Pordenone (80 km). You can get here from Munich, Frankfurt, London as well as Tirana and Belgrade. From the railway station of Trieste to the airport bus number 51 runs every half hour and you can get there in 50 minutes, spending 3-4 Euros.

The distance from the Airport of Marco Polo in Venice (Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo) is about 130 km, so you can take direct flights Aeroflot and Alitalia.

As in all of Italy, well developed railway service . All cities in the region are connected to each other. Travel time from Trieste to Gorizia is 45-50 minutes and the ticket price is 4,75 euros. Trains leave every half an hour – hour. To Udine – an hour with a little, departure on average every 20 minutes, tickets from 7.5 euros. The longest and most expensive trip will be to Pordenone – a minimum of 1 hour 45 minutes and 11.8 euros for a ticket with one change, the direct train is more expensive – 13.8 euros.

In the same hour forty you can also go to Venice – it is the fastest, but also the most expensive option (21 euros). It’s possible to get by in 13.4 euros, but the trip takes at least 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Those who want to save money can take a bus. You can even get to Rome for only 15 euros, but the trip will take all night (departure from Trieste at 20:00, arrival in Rome at Tiburtina station at 6:15). For a detailed schedule, including flights to neighboring countries, visit orariautobus.it.

As the southern part of the region has access to the sea, there are several ports, including those in Trieste, as well as in the cities of Grado and Lignano, the latter located on the western part of the coast, on the border with Veneto. Ferries from Slovenia, Croatia and Albania arrive here.

What to do

The location of the administrative area “on the outskirts” of the country, it would seem, reduces its attractiveness to tourists. But such a perception is fundamentally wrong. Thanks to the diversity of customs, its frontier position, the mix of cultures and many other factors, a visit to Friuli-Venezia Giulia is full of the most vivid and positive experiences.

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There are numerous attractions, including those of great historical value; incredible scenery, especially in the foothills of the Alps; excellent beach resorts and much more. You can go skiing or sunbathe in the hot sun, enjoy the beauty of small picturesque villages or stroll around the old towns. The region is famous for its wines, especially the excellent white Pinot Grigio.

Beach resorts

Costa Azzurra beach

The city of Grado is located on an island that Italians call “golden” for its sandy beaches. One, the central one, is called Grado Pineta. The Costa Azzurra, west of the city, is no less popular. Open from April to September, they offer all conditions for a comfortable holiday. Stay at the Mirabel Residence Apartments or the Apart Hotel Atlantic.

 Hotel Italia Palace

At the westernmost point of the coast, in the province of Udine, is Lignano Sabbiadoro. Here you can find everything you need to relax and unwind – pine and cedar forests, pristine beaches, great infrastructure and the amazing Italian architecture. Lodging options are varied, from the luxurious Hotel Italia Palace for 1170 euros a week to the modest, but spacious and well equipped apartments Condominio Belletti for 315 euros.

Ski resorts

One of the popular winter resorts is Forni di Sopra 80 km from Udine. To the East and 20 km closer to Udine is the alpine ski resort of Ravascletto.

Sella Nevea, which is in the common skiing area with Slovenian resort Bovec Kanin, is the most snowy and there is always a lot of natural snow. Another place, much loved by many skiers, Tarvisio, is a bit more expensive than the others, but is probably the best in the region, offering excellent service and well-equipped slopes.

Provinces and attractions

Each of the provinces in the region has its own characteristics, due to geography, history and other unique factors which have influenced their development.

Trieste

The main city of the region and administrative center of the province of the same name, Trieste can not boast a large area or density of people; its population barely exceeds 200 thousand people. But it has a rich history. The city was known as Trieste even before Christ, and even then its harbor was regularly visited by ships. At the end of the 14th century it came under Habsburg rule and for centuries played the role of the main port of the monarchy.

San Giusto Castle

In Trieste there are many monuments from different times – from antiquity, the Middle Ages and modern history. Despite its more than modest size, the city has many unique architectural structures. The Castello di San Giusto, built in the 15th century, bears the name of St. Justus. The city’s cathedral (Cattedrale di San Giusto) is also named after him. In the XIV century the churches of the IX and XI centuries were united in one space. The interiors of the cathedral are decorated with mosaic Byzantine frescos of the XIII century.

In the old part of the city there is an ancient amphitheatre (Teatro Romano) from the beginning of our era. The ancient structure was discovered thanks to excavations completed in 1938. Nowadays, a theater festival is held here.

Unity Square

The new part of the city is called the “Borgo Teresiano”, the first buildings which appeared in the XVIII century. Here is the Unity Square (Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia). The area is known for its beauty and uniqueness – the square overlooks the sea. The town has its own canal (Canal grande) dug by hand in the XVIII century by order of Maria Theresa of Austria. It connects the sea and the city center and over the years has become somewhat shorter.

The Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Spiridion (Chiesa di San Spiridione), built in the second half of the 19th century, reminds us of the history of the province. The new building was erected on the site of a building from the middle of the XVIII century.

In the vicinity of the town is located Castle Miramare. It is made in the medieval Scottish style, although it was built in the 1850s. The client was the Austrian Archduke Maximilian, who later became the last emperor of Mexico. The castle is surrounded by a magnificent exotic garden. You can get here on a tour throughout the year: the ticket price is 8 euros.

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Other places of interest are the Risiera di San Sabba, the Nazi concentration camp, and El Pedocin, the town’s beach with separate male and female bathing areas which is not to be found anywhere else in Europe.

Gorizia

The province of Gorizia – its administrative center bears the same name – is larger than Trieste, but also small. Town of Gorizia stands on the border with Slovenia; by the way, before the Schengen treaty it passed right through the city streets. The first mention of the village here once dates back to 1001. 74 years later, the Gorica dynasty was founded and ruled the region until the year 1500. After World War II, the eastern part of the town was given to Yugoslavia; today it is part of the Slovenian Nova Gorica.

The Old Fortress of Gorizia

Although the town was severely damaged by the war in the early 20th century, many historic buildings have been preserved, such as the ancient fortress standing on the top of the hill, which overlooks the town. There are many palaces in Gorizia, mostly belonging to Austrian aristocratic families.

Pordenone

Pordenone is the fourth largest city of the region and the center of the province of the same name. It is not as old as the other cities and gained its status only in the XIII century. Much of the Venetian Republic’s heritage can be felt here: just over 90 km from Venice.

Pordenone is homely and picturesque. It is a nice place to stay for a few days and spend time in silence, strolling leisurely through medieval streets or taking a seat in the numerous open-air restaurants. In October, there’s a silent film festival. Pordenone has a wealth of Gothic-style buildings, including the Duomo Concattedrale di San Marco, the town hall and medieval churches.

There’s much to see outside the city as well. In the small town of Spilimbergo, 30 km from the center of the province, there is a mosaics school with a large number of samples of this unusual artistic technique. In the small town of Sacile, only 10 minutes away by bus, there are many splendid palazzo of the XVI century. In August, it hosts one of Italy’s oldest festivals, Sagra dei Osei, famous since the second half of the 13th century. Songbirds are brought to it, from which the best one is chosen.

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At 20 km south-east from Pordenone lies the abbey of Sesto al Reghena. It was built in the VIII century, and the town itself is known since Roman times.

Udine

The administrative center of the province of Udine (Udine) is the city of the same name, located 80 km from Trieste and 40 km from the Slovenian border.

It was founded in the tenth century; its symbol is a castle located on a high hill in the center of the city. In the historical documents containing the first mention of Udine, it is referred to as Utinum (Utinum). The building surviving today was built many years later, in the middle of the XVI century.

Cathedral

The Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Maggiore) dates from the beginning of the XIII century. Like many other buildings of the city it was badly damaged by the destructive earthquake of the beginning of the XVI century.

One of the highlights of the city is the so-called Loggia, or gallery, of St. John (Loggia e Tempietto di San Giovanni). The delicate openwork colonnade stands on Piazza Liberta, in Venetian style and considered one of the most beautiful squares of its type outside Venice.

St. John Loggia

The Basilica Santuario della Beata Vergine delle Grazie is another historically important building. The name comes from the temple’s main sacred object, a miraculous icon created in the fourteenth century.

In Udine worked the great Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. It was his work in Udine, for one of the local aristocrats, that made him the fashionable painter of his time and brought him general European fame.

At 30 km to the east is the town of Cividale del Friuli (Cividale del Friuli), with a population of just over 11,000. It is famous because it was founded by Julius Caesar and was for a time known as Friul (from “Forum Julius”). Here stands the Chapel of Santa Maria in Valle (oratorio di Santa Maria in Valle), also called Tempietto longobardo by the Italians, or the Temple of the Lombards, an ancient Germanic tribe that invaded Italy in 568. It was the Duchy of Friuli that became their first dominion in Italy, from which they spread their influence over the entire Apennine peninsula. The chapel was built in the eighth century and is under UNESCO protection. It is assumed that it may have been used as the home church of the dukes of Friuli.

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