Destination: Italy – Friuli Venezia Giulia
Friuli Venezia Giulia is situated in Italy’s northeast and borders Slovenia and Austria. Friuli Venezia Giulia overlooks the Adriatic Sea and is surrounded by high mountains, enclosing many different landscapes. The impressive Carso plateau is formed by windswept rocks, and soil erosion has created a series of caves, hollows and resurgences over time.
The mountain sceneries of the Eastern Dolomites are truly spectacular and an inviting places for lovers of walking and cycling: the Carnia and the Julian Alps, in addition to the lakes, valleys and protected areas. From its boundary with Veneto up to Monfalcone, the coast is trimmed with lagoons and has long sandy beaches, with several tourist resorts like famous Lignano Sabbiadoro. The coast is rocky, rather, from Monfalcone to Trieste. The great variety of landscapes matches the rich and variegated cultural heritage that was determined by a complex history and by the confluence of different civilizations in this territory. For this reason, Friuli Venezia Giulia looks like a small universe with many different traditions: it is the “land of contrasts”.
The Friuli area can boast a decidedly important ancestor dating back to Roman times: Cividale, the ancient Forum Iulii was in fact founded by Julius Caesar. The city, following the destruction of the other Roman pearl Aquileia, became the administrative center of the region which at the time was called Venetia et Histria.After many centuries of foreign domination, here the riots of irridentism were particularly strong and not without contrasts: the process of annexation by the Kingdom of Italy and the conquest of territories such as Venezia Giulia were absolutely complex. Friuli Venezia Giulia as we know it today is the administrative union of two regions that boast different evolutionary paths from a historical and cultural point of view: on the one hand Friuli, which includes the provinces of Udine, Pordenone and Gorizia, on the other Venezia Giulia, which instead refers to the province of Trieste, which rejoins the Italian state only after the end of the Second World War.
As for climate, Friuli Venezia Giulia is affected by a Mediterranean climate along the coasts, which slowly gives way to a temperate climate as you go into the plains and hills. The Julian Alps and all the mountains in the area are instead characterized by an alpine climate. Finally, an important phenomenon to report is the bora, a powerful wind that blows from the east and can sometimes be particularly intense in winter.
What to eat in Friuli Venezia Giulia?
The cooking traditions Friuli Venezia Giulia are influenced by the Slavic, central European and Venetian cultures. The cuisine relies on simple recipes and genuine ingredients: meat, dairy, sausages and legumes, used to create tasty specialties. Some typical dishes of the area are polenta, “porcina”, a dish made with boiled pork meat and sausages served with sauerkrauts and mustard, and the several soups rich in vegetables and legumes. The most important typical product of the region is Prosciutto of San Daniele, well-known and exported worldwide, followed by Montasio cheese and Sauris smoked ham. Among the salame and pork meats produced in Friuli, we can find varying salames, soppressa, sausages and musèt con la brovada, (cotechino pork sausage served with turnips soured with marc). The most famous regional dessert is called gubana, a shell of pastry stuffed with dried fruit. Strudels and fruit cakes are delicious as well. The tasty traditional dishes of the area are accompanied by a rich production of high-quality red and white wines, like Refosco, Terrano, Malvasia, Tocai and Rebula. Friuli Venezia Giulia is also renowned for its distillates, including traditional and flavored grappas.
What to see in Friuli Venezia Giulia?
One of the most glimmering 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, it is rich in vestiges: from the forum to the ruins of the river port and the basilica, it is also one of the most important examples of early Christian art. The Dolomites, another addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List, are a highly valuable natural monument and offer extremely charming sceneries and colors, both in winter and in summer: crystal-clear water stretches, snow-covered peaks and lush valleys.
From the Karst Plateau to the sea, Trieste conceals innumerable beauties – old cafés, neoclassical buildings along the Grand Canal and other monuments revealing the fascination of this central European city and its glorious past. Another unmissable destination is cosmopolitan Gorizia, with its Medieval castle that recalls centuries of history. Udine is no less charming, with its ancient castle and the precious works of Giambattista Tiepolo. Finally, Pordenone is well worth a visit, with its ancient buildings and the Corso, lined by typical long arcades. Several other towns and small villages enrich the region with their art and traditions. Grado is peculiar for its Venetian-style old town center; the small town of San Daniele, for its beautiful frescoes and the Church of Sant’Antonio; and Cividale del Friuli, for being the seat of the first Lombard dukedom in Italy.