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If you are planning to tour Europe, you should consider the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy, bordering on Austria and Slovenia. For simplicity's sake, we abbreviate the region's full name to Friuli. This lovely region may be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food and other specialties, and wash it all down with excellent local wine. While Friuli is by no means undiscovered by tourists, you usually won't be fighting crowds to see what you want. Like most regions of Italy, it has belonged to many nations over the years. The area remains multicultural, an exceptional mixture of Italian, Austrian, and Slavic influences. Trieste, with a population of about two hundred thousand, is the region's largest city. Trieste was definitely part and parcel of Mittel Europa (Central Europe) as the principal port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Trieste only joined Italy in 1954. One can easily imagine that with such a unique history Trieste is quite a unique place to visit. It is. As soon as you arrive in Trieste, you'll notice its ubiquitous coffee houses. Among the best known is the Antico Caffe San Marco. As befits its internationality, Trieste is home to a variety of historic religious buildings representing many faiths. The Serbian-Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity and Saint Spyridon, which was built in the mid-Nineteenth Century shows strong Byzantine influence. Go inside for a look at its beautiful frescoes and icons. The Israelite Temple of Trieste, just over a century old, is Italy's largest synagogue. The Trieste Cathedral dedicated to the city's patron saint, San Guisto (Saint Justus) who was martyred at the beginning of the Fourth Century, was initially built in the Sixth Century on Roman ruins. It is adjacent to a castle of the same name. Walk on its ramparts for an excellent view of the city and its surroundings. There is no shortage of other churches and museums to visit. This is a guide to a trip in the Friuli region of Italy: passing through Grado, Lignano, Aquileia, Trieste, Pordenone, Udine, and touching the mountains of Friuli, the Carnia, Tarvisio, and Sequals. There are extensive descriptions and photos of the attractions. It contains many reviews for the best-recommended restaurants that are at the location described.
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Copyright Enrico Massetti 2015
Published by Enrico Massetti
All Rights Reserved
Fourth edition - 2018
Villa Manin - Passariano
The last Doge of Venice, Ludovico Manin, retired to this area at the end of the 18th-century when the Venetian Republic fell to the blows of Napoleon Bonaparte.
These days, whoever visits Villa Manin in the province of Udine, detects a hint of twilight in the air, almost as if the memory of the old gentleman who came here to pass the autumn of his life was influencing the visitors and inducing a melancholic mood in them. But this is a pleasant sensation, which leads to a more intimate and intense kind of aesthetic enjoyment.
Loggia del Lionello Udine Italy
The same sensation recurs all over this beautiful and severe border region of Friuli, where almost every town boasts a museum – those of Udine, Tolmezzo, Pordenone, Cividale del Friuli, Gorizia, and Aquileia are particularly important and exciting – and can surprise with the plurality of architectural styles.
In the center of Udine, the Venetian Gothic of the Palazzo del Comune faces the beautiful 20th-century Art Deco Caffe’ Contarena. Cultural attractions are also remarkable, as at Udine again, where galleries of historical and modern art are numerous.
Highly suggestive is the Basilica in Aquileia, now a small town but once a principal city of the Roman Empire.
Trieste San Giusto
Grado, in the province of Gorizia, is the favorite of many tourists who regularly return to its sea and particularly healthy climate.
Trieste, in tiny Venezia Giulia, is the most "middle-European" of Italian cities, rich in history and culture, with its essential ancient and modern artistic heritage, has been loved and represented by great literary figures like James Joyce, Italo Svevo, Umberto Saba and many others.
And don't forget the mountains, in Friuli, you can enjoy summer and winter sports in beautiful mountain surroundings.
The Dolomites of the Carnia region are very well known and famous, Tarvisio and Sequals are two of the most frequented villages.
Exceptional is the "Widespread Hotel": The idea of the popular/widespread hotel stems from the need to safeguard and recover the existing building heritage. Houses, stables and old farmsteads have been restored, and today they stand as structures which are in harmony with the environment and the urban layout of these centers. You have to stay in an old original building, correctly restored to a modern standard, with all the amenities of a hotel while savoring the feeling of ancient times.
Aquileia, Basilica – Intern
Aquileia was a magnificent city in the times of Augustus and again after the barbarian invasions, in the high Middle Ages. In the 5th-century, it became the seat of a patriarchate, and then Venetian. After having reached its maximum splendor in the 11th-century, it fell slowly into decay, coming at last to its present state.
Standing isolated and austere is the mighty Basilica (1031), its interior built in various periods, with the wealthiest and most elaborate mosaic floor in all western art. We shall also visit the imposing ruins of the Roman Forum, and the excellent Archaeological Museum with mosaics, sarcophagi, and Roman heads including an outstanding one of Tiberius.
The origins of Aquileia date back a long time ago. In the place where, already in the proto-historic period, it used to trade amber from the North bartering it for seaborne items arriving from the Mediterranean and the Middle East docks, the Romans founded in 181 BC a colony. From a military outpost to the capital of the "X Regio Venetia et Histria," the city developed rapidly because of particular military reasons relating to expansionist aims of Roman Empire towards central European and Balkan regions.
Aquileia became flourishing and prosperous thanks to the vast trade through a functional and capillary road network. It used to have mighty defensive walls and huge buildings such as circus, amphitheater, theatre, thermal baths, a forum at the crossing between the main cardo and decumanus. It reached its peak during Caesar ‘s empire: its inhabitants were more than 200.000 and became one of the biggest and wealthiest cities of the whole Empire.
It was the residence of many emperors, its palace was very visited, till Costantino the Great and more prolonged. With Attila's destruction in the middle of 5th-century AD, there was the final economic and social collapse of Aquileia that lasted till the Medieval period. Aquileia remained an important political and cultural center, also during Hungarian invasions 10th-century AD), notwithstanding it was a problem area of the Empire, meeting point of Latin, German and Slav civilization.
Patriarch of Aquileia was always close and friendly to the political power even when the power became German. In 1077 emperor Henry IV granted to Sigeardo Patriarca the feudal investiture with the ducal title over the County, giving the origin of the "Stato della Patria del Friuli."
Following the ancient Roman road "via Iulia Augusta," which joined the Adriatic to the Norico, about ten kilometers away from the sea and in the middle of the green and highly cultivated countryside, one comes upon the archaeological area of Aquileia, a town founded by the Romans in 181 B.C.
Restaurants in Aquileia:
•Antica Aquileia Ristorante Pizzeria $$ - $$$ Via Bertrando Di Saint Genies, 2, +39 0431 918825 This restaurant-pizzeria is located off the main road at the entrance to Aquileia with plenty of free parking. Very comfortable with large open-air terrace for eating at any time as it is well shielded from the sun. Family run, the owner is very nice, and it is best to follow his honest recommendations.www.anticaaquileia.it
•La Capannina $$ - $$$ Via Gemina 10 +39 0431 91019 A little hard to find--easy to miss. The waitress doesn't speak any English, so some of the meal can be a surprise (part of the fun of traveling). But the food is excellent, and the wine (a local red) too. Wonderful dessert-- huge, Total bill a bargain.www.ristorantelacapannina.net
•Al Corallo $$ - $$$ Località Ca' Ara, 1, +39 0431 91065 Very nice restaurant at just 600 feet from the Basilica of Aquileia. Large choice of fish-based dishes, both traditional and innovative. Excellent food, friendly and professional staff, very nice location. During the summer, ask a table under the pergola.www.ristorantecoralloaquileia.it
•Bar Cjapitul $$ - $$$ Piazza Capitolo 9, +39 0431 919343 Although in the very center of the touristic area of Aquileia, the restaurant is not expensive and serves good food. Dishes are simple, but fresh and tasty - even something as basic as pasta with tomato sauce is perfect.
•Nettuno $$ - $$$ Marina di Aquileia, Nice restaurant/pizzeria with a terrace overlooking the marina. Pizza is good. The restaurant's dishes are tasty and plentiful. Friendly service and fair price.
•Pasticceria Mosaico $$ - $$$ Piazza Capitolo 17, +39 0431-919592 The sandwiches here are very good, considering that it is a cake shop/ bakery and not a restaurant The location is impressive, especially if you are lucky enough to snatch a seat outside. Perfect for a relaxed snack if you are not in a hurry.www.pasticceriamosaico.com
Grado Basilica San Piero
The beauty of Grado lies in the possibility to spend a relaxing holiday while discovering an ancient world rich of traditions and fascinating history. Grado, also called Golden Island or Sunny Island, has an adorable historic profile and it fulfills with style and hospitality the desire for relaxation, fun, and wellbeing of all grown-ups and children.
Santa Maria delle GrazieThe Basilica is a church of the 4th-century, with internal apse and sculptures dating back to the 6th and the 9th-century.
Parco delle RoseThe sandy shore gets a breath of freshness by the greenness of cluster pines.
Basilica di Sant’Eufemia Campo Patriarca Elia, 1 – Tel. 0431 80146 5th-century, with a bell tower of the 15th-century with an angel called "L'Anzolo" on its top, which has become the emblem of the island.
The lagoonThe lagoon around Grado represents the easternmost stretch of the whole lagoon system, and it covers a surface area of almost 9,000 hectares from the Aussa estuary to the Isonzo River; it is subdivided into three sub-basins, corresponding to the lagoon harbors of Porto Buso, Grado-Morgo, and Primero. This uncontaminated stretch is made up of canals and streams which intertwine between hillocks and small islands, to be explored on a boat or a rubber dinghy
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