Friuli Venezia Giulia Itineraries (21)
A selection of off the beaten track itineraries from the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Highlighted below are our current favourites and follow the Friuli Itineraries links for all articles.
Hi there, thought you might like to see the piece I wrote for The (Glasgow) Herald. Nice to have met you. A.J.
The municipal official believes he has the measure of me. “This is your firrrst time, I think,” he says with a discomforting leer, before adding, “in the region of Gorizia.” We’re in the oxter of Italy, geographically speaking. It’s a wedge of land north of Venice at the top of the Adriatic, squashed up against the Slovenian border.
Down the road behind an unprepossessing exterior lies Al Ponte, where an elegant lady - Adriana Rizzotti - runs an elegant restaurant specialising in local cuisine. A helipad tucked round the back says something about her clientele.
The carnival of Sauris in the mountainous Carnia territory of Friuli Venezia Giulia typically takes place in the second half of February. Sauris is, in fact, the highest town in the region and it is very cold at this time of the year. Perhaps that's why the original German inhabitants chose it as their new home from home.
The carnival is one of the oldest in the Alps and the language, traditions and architecture of this past are still present, not least in the name of the carnival 'Voshankh'. It is characterised with wooden masks and walks in the local forest with lanterns along snow filled paths.
A recent marketing hook used by the Trieste Tourism Promotion Board, 'Trieste Awaits You', rings truer than many. Putting to one side the first 2000 years of its history, only the last 300 has seen Croats, Slovenians, Austrians, Hungarians, Dalmati, Albanians, Greeks and French all making their presence felt before the end of the First World War saw the city become part of Italy for the first time. The video above is a really love affair and simply stunning.
First World War trenches were designed to remain below the horizon, and completely hidden if possible. So it's not surprising that traces of the ferocious battles in the province of Gorizia, following Italy's declaration of War against Austria in 1915, have to be pointed out to the casual visitor.
The best place to start is in Redipuglia and the huge memorial constructed by Mussolini to remind those who might have forgotten what patrotisim was all about.
Without Aquileia there would be no Venice.
The fall of the Roman Empire and the subsequent arrival of the Huns forced the citizens of Rome's second most important city to seek refuge in the lagoons.
They took their Republican spirit with them and having founded Grado and settled on Torcello, they then set up home on the island of Rialto.
But it is still worth a trip to Aquileia today as were lucky enough to do so having been invited by the Consorzio Turistico Gorizia el'Isontino.
A small town of 3,000 inhabitants in the Province of Udine, the Roman ruins of the old capital of the 'X Regio Venetia et Histria', basically today's Veneto, are now UNESCO listed.
The mountainous territory of Carnia is the part of Friuli which straddles the border between Austria and Slovenia. According to the local tourism authorities the territory offers a crowd free winter snow experience with low ski pass prices, guaranteed snow due to its unique geography and thermal baths to ease the muscles.
Have a ski preference? Here's a handy guide for mushers, downhillers and snow show ramblers.
The main centres are Forni di Sopra, Ravascletto and Sauris with the best runs stretching form Varmòst to Forni di Sopra and Zoncolan to Ravascletto. For beginners try the pistes of Sauris.
The resort of Piancavallo was built 25 years ago in a sunny valley beside Monte Cavallo in the Eastern Dolomites (Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti Friulane). It has a certain open plan charm but at least the snow and skiing are guaranteed thanks to over 40 snow cannons which work the pistes from mid December.
Our favorite hand-book 'Where to Ski' describes it as a curiously trendy purpose built village with a number of short runs and an easy car outing from Venice.
What it doesn't mention is the Piancavallo Ice Stadium featuring a 60x30m ice rink, 30 km of cross country ski routes and the 'tremol' ski lift which takes visitors to 1800 meters and a fabulous view of the Colli Euganei, the Istrian coast and the rest of the Dolomites.
The curative effects of the waters of Arta Terme in the Carnia hills have been known for a very long time, but only in the last 150 years have they been commercialized. Officially, the waters are classed as 'minerale sulfuree fredde' which may mean the hot baths are very cold indeed.
Near to the town is Zuglio, or the ancient Roman colony of Forum Iulium Carnicum built in the 1st century AD. Not much more is known about its origins, but for sure the area acted as a forward camp for easy access to the northern Alps and the Austrian valleys offering a route east to Slovenia.
The ancient market of 'La Santa della Luce' or 'saint of the light' returns to the thermal town of Arta Terme in the Carnia hills every 26th December.