WHAT TO VISIT IN THE PROVINCE OF UDINE?
The biggest province of the region is full of surprises.
The province of Udine
THE PROVINCE OF UDINE
The Alp mountains in the north, rolling hills in the center with on top of them some castles, a flatter landscape to the south that ends in wide sandy beaches on the coastline of the Adriatic sea with the large tourist resort of Lignano as its main attraction.
Imagine this landscape filled with many historic, very interesting towns and villages that are definitely worth a visit.
Such as Udine, the capital of Friuli and also named 'city of Tiepolo'- the famous Venetian baroque painter that worked here three times during his lifetime. Aquileia, once the fourth most important city of the Roman Empire, where you can see many excavations and the first Christian Basilica of northern Italy with a wonderful beautiful 750 m2 mosaic floor dating from the 4th century, the largest of Europe. Cividale the city of the Lombards, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List along with Aquileia. Palmanova a fortress in the form of a nine-pointed star built by the Venetians as a bulwark against the Austrians and Turks. Or how about Villa Manin a beautiful 17th century villa in Venetian style, 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 that have been completely reconstructed after the earthquake of 1976 and 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.
The name says it all, this is the capital of the province 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. Continue reading
It is now hard to imagine, but sometime during the heyday of the Roman Empire, this small village near the island of Grado, was the fourth most important city in Italy of the Roman Empire.
In Aquileia nowadays you can see many Roman sites such as the Forum, the remains of the river port with its warehouses and docks, a cemetery, remains of villas and above all a fantastic beautiful Basilica built in the eleventh century on top of the foundations of the first Patriarchal Christian Church in Northern Italy! The 750 m2 mosaic floor dating from the 4th century, is the largest in Europe. Aquileia is on the Unesco World Heritage List. Continue reading
Cividale is rich in history and since 2011 a World Heritage Site. This is due to its well-preserved treasures from the Lombards period of which the Tempietto Longobardo is the most famous one. It was once from the 6th till the end of the 8th century the first Duchy of the Lombards in Italy. The town is divided in two by the river Natisone that guarantees for beautiful photos with its spectacular colors. Standing on "il ponte del diavolo" - the Devil's bridge -, you have a magnificent view over both parts of the village.
GEMONA & VENZONE
These two medieval villages have always been connected over the centuries. In the Middle Ages because of their important role in providing shelter to the Pilgrims who came through here on their way to the holy city of Rome.
In more recent times, due to the earthquakes of 1976, these villages were put forever on the the map. The earthquake of 6 May 1976 had a magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was beneath the mountain Gemonese next to the village of Gemona and not far from Venzone. In 1 minute time almost all the buildings and houses collapsed and centuries of history seemed to be cancelled for always.
It is a pity that when visiting Palmanova it is not possible to make a helicopter flight, because let's be honest this village shows itself from the air at its best. Palmanova was built in 1593 by the Venetians as a defensive bulwark against the invasions of the Austrians and Ottomans in the late 16th century. The Venetians didn't want to just build a fortress or castle , no a completely city was constructed from scratch in the shape of a polygon with 9 points with the most modern defense systems.
SAN DANIELE DEL FRIULI
About 20 kilometers west of Udine there is a picturesque village on top of a hill that's named San Daniele del Friuli. San Daniele is especially famous for one thing. Il prosciutto crudo, - its raw ham -. For centuries, thanks to its microclimate this ham is being produced in the traditional way.
In and around the village you can find nearly 30 ham producers the so called 'prosciutiffici', in many of them you can see the production process of the hams and in their restaurants you can taste and purchase them. In San Daniele the ham production is a serious matter.
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.
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. Julium to Julius and Carnicum because it is located in the foothills of the Carnic Alps, named Carnicum by the Romans. It was built in a strategic position. The road, the Roman Julia Augusta, which runs along the town was in the past a busy road that united northern Europe and northern Italy through this valley. The road started in Aquileia and ended in Klagenfurt in Austria.
Before the Romans, the Celts lived here and there are various utensils found during excavations that you can see in the local Archaeological Museum together with artifacts from the Roman era. Continue reading
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 is about 1 1/2 hours drive of which especially the last half hour is intense because you will drive over narrow mountain roads with many hairpin bends and narrow tunnels. But ..... if you love the mountains, the quiet, typical rural villages and ...... smoked ham, then it's worth the drive! Especially if you are here in the second or third weekend of June, when the population organizes the annual 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
The information about Sauris you can continue reading in the chapter about the lakes of Friuli because it is also known for its large lake. Continue reading
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