The biggest province of the region is full of surprises.
The province of Udine
UDINE AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
GUIDED TOUR OF UDINE
The Alps in the north, followed by rolling hills in the center scattered with medieval castles and villages, merging into a flatter landscape rich of lakes and rivers, ending in the south with wide sandy beaches looking over the Adriatic Sea. This is the province of Udine in a nutshell. From the Alps to the Adriatic in a one hour drive, enjoying art, cities, nature, and great food and wines!
Such as Udine, the capital of Friuli also known as 'city of Tiepolo'- named after the famous Venetian baroque painter that worked and lived here. Aquileia, once the fourth most important city of the Roman Empire, famous for the roman excavations and the first and biggest Christian Basilica in northern Italy with a 750 m2 mosaic floor of the early 4th century making it a one of the three Unesco sites in Friuli.
Cividale the first Duchy of the Lombards, also a Unesco site as well as Palmanova a nine pointed star shaped fortress built by the Venetians as a bulwark against the Austrians and Turks. Or how about Villa Manin a beautiful 17th century Venetia style villa, luxury summer residence of the last Doge of Venice. None other than Napoleon Bonaparte lived here two months during his occupation of Friuli.
San Daniele famous for its ham and the beautiful Sistine Chapel of Friuli. Gemona & Venzone, two medieval towns completely reconstructed after the heavy earthquake of 1976, where you can imagine yourself going back into time. And last but not least, in Carnia, an area at the foothills of the Alps, the villages Zuglio and Sauris. The first was once a Roman settlement and the second a remote mountain village whose inhabitants originally came from Austria and is famous for its smoked ham.
GUIDED TOUR OF UDINE
The name says it all, this is the capital of the province Udine and with its 100,000 inhabitants, the second largest city of the region. The old center is built around a hill with on top the 16th-century castle, once the seat of the first Patriarch and later the Venetian governor. More than 350 years Udine was part of the Venetian Republic and this is clearly visible in the architecture of the historic center.
GUIDED TOUR OF AQUILEIA
It is now hard to imagine, but sometime during the heyday of the Roman Empire, this small village near the coast, was the fourth most important city in Italy during the Roman Empire. Aquileia is a Unesco site since 1998 and visiting it, it's easy to see why.
Here you can visit the excavations areas and see the remains of the Forum, the the river port with its warehouses and docks, a cemetery, some roman villas and above all the fantastic 11th century Basilica built on top of the foundations of the first early Christian Church in Northern Italy! The 750 m2 mosaic floor dating from the 4th century, is the largest in Europe.
GUIDED TOUR OF CIVIDALE
Cividale is rich in history and also a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2011. This former first Duchy of the Lombards contains well-preserved treasures going back to the 8th century such as the Tempietto Longobardo. The town is divided in two by the Natisone river where standing on the Devils bridge you can take some beautiful photos enjoying a magnificent view over both parts of the village.
GUIDED TOUR OF GEMONA & VENZONE
These two medieval villages have always been connected over the centuries. In the middle ages they offered shelter to the many pilgrims who were on their way to the holy city of Rome. Later they became important commercial towns taking advantage of their special location, locked in between the Alps and the Tagliamento river. you were kind of forced to pass through them.
In more recent times, due to the earthquakes of 1976, these villages were put forever on the map. They were both reconstructed extremely well, using the original building materials /stones and the slogan "how and where it was" makes it difficult today to realise they were both once razed to the ground. .
GUIDED TOUR OF PALMANOVA
It is a pity that while visiting Palmanova it is not possible to make a helicopter flight, because let's be honest this nine pointed star shaped fortress gives the best of itself from the air. Palmanova was built late 16th century by the Venetians as a defensive bulwark against the invasions of the Austrians and Ottomans. Unesco site since 2017 thanks to the fact that the original defence systems, moat, bastions and underground galleries are still in tact and can be visited.
GUIDED TOUR OF SAN DANIELE DEL FRIULI
About 20 kilometers west of Udine on top of a hill lays this picturesque village named San Daniele del Friuli. San Daniele is famous for the speciality "Il prosciutto crudo", - the raw ham. For centuries, thanks to a special microclimate, ham has been produced here in the traditional way.
Thirty different ham producers, the 'prosciutiffici', produce this so-called King of San Daniele - a delicious air dried ham. Some of them show you the production process after which you can taste them in their restaurants and purchase their products for a special price in their shops. In San Daniele the ham production is a serious matter. The village offers a great view over the flat lands and has an interesting historical center with the richly with frescoes decorated Sant'Antonio Abate church and the oldest public library of the region.
GUIDED TOUR OF VILLA MANIN
Do you like having a look at a beautiful large villa of which Napoleon Bonaparte himself said "too small for an Emperor but too big and too fancy for a Doge", then come to the hamlet Passariano near Codroipo and see with your own eyes what he meant.
The beautiful huge villa was property of the important and noble family Manin whose last owner was no one less than Ludovico Manin, the last Doge of Venice. Napoleon Bonaparte stayed here in 1797, for two months together with his generals when he had occupied the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. You can still see the bedroom where he slept.
GUIDED TOUR OF ZUGLIO
Zuglio is an ancient Roman settlement that was built in the same period as Cividale around 50 B.C. both were founded by Julius Caesar. It was formerly called Julium Carnicum and was built in a strategic position alongside the most important road in Roman Empire time, the "Julia Augusta road", A busy road that united Austria and northern Italy through this valley. It started in Aquileia and ended in Klagenfurt in Austria.
Before the Romans, the Celts lived her. Various utensils and artworks of both periods found during excavations can be seen in the local Archaeological Museum.
GUIDED TOUR OF SAURIS
Sauris is located in the foothills of the Alps in the mountain area called Carnia. It is not exactly around the corner from Udine. It distances 1 1/2 hour drive of which especially the last half hour is quite intense. Narrow mountain roads with many hairpin bends interrupted by a fair amount of tunnels make the drive quite an adventur. But ..... if you love the mountains, the quiet, typical rural villages and ...... smoked ham, then it's certainly worth the drive! The second or third weekend of June, you can enjoy the annual ham festival 'Sauris in Festa - Festa del Prosciutto'. A true feast for the Sauris ham lovers because then the competitor of the 'San Daniele Ham' is in the spotlights.
More information about Sauris you can find in the chapter dedicated to the lakes of Friuli because it is also known for its large lake.
Which places are good to combine in one day In the province of Udine?
Udine & Cividale
Udine & Palmanova
Udine & San Daniele
Udine & Aquileia
Udine & Gemona / Venzone
Udine & Zuglio