Grado, the daughter of Aquileia and the mother of Venice
WHAT SHOULD YOU CERTAINLY VISIT IN GRADO?
GRADO AND GRADUS
Grado comes from the Latin word "Gradus" which means "footstep". Why 'footstep' you might think? Well because the island of Grado, was a very important port in Roman times and served as a gateway for the slightly more distant inland Aquileia, the fourth largest Italian city of the Roman Empire. Aquileia was accessible thanks to the river Natisse. Large seagoing boats though first had to stop in Grado to transfer their goods (oil, fabrics, spices, wine, marble, amber etc.) onto smaller boats that could sail the Natisse river . That is why the sailors put here their first footsteps on the solid ground of Grado.
BEACH AND HEALTH RESORT
Grado is an island connected to the mainland by a long bridge. Her isolated position was ideal during the Roman Empire when the people of the nearby Aquileia had to flee often for the incursions of various barbarians who regularly disturbed the peace in the first 500 years after Christ. The Huns led by their king Attila destroyed Aquileia almost completely in 452 a.C and its residents looked for shelter on the safer island of Grado. They are even among the first founders of the city of Venice. That is why Grado is also known as the daughter of Aquileia and the mother of Venice.
The historic core is built on what was once the Castrum, a fortress protected by high city walls containing no less than three different churches. Two of them still exist. The "Sant'Eufemia" was inaugurated in the 4th century a.C. It is still the main Basilica of Grado and inside you can admire the original mosaic floor and pulpit. Next to this church is a smaller more intimate church "Santa Maria delle Grazie" also from the 4th century. The third church is located in Piazza Biagio Marin, of this one only the foundations are visible.
A MAZE OF SMALL ALLEYS
The historic heart of Grado is a maze of small alleys filled with several typical small characteristic shops and restaurantes, ideal for fish lovers. Every day fresh fish dishes are served. wGrado is not big and easy to visit in half a day. You walk from the old city center in a few minutes to the modern wide promenade from where you have a beautiful view over the Gulf of Trieste and with a little luck you can even see the Slovenian coastline.
Grado has for centuries been in the hands of the Habsburg Empire and it belongs to Italy only since the end of the First World War. The inhabitants call it "L'Isola del sole" - "the sunny island". In the late 19th century the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph has created here a Spa for the more wealthy Austrian families. Grado was then known as the Austrian Riviera. These 'wellness centers' still exist and around Grado you can find many campsites and beaches ideal for small children because the sea is very shallow for quite some distance.
THE ISLAND OF BARBANA
From Grado you can make nice boat trips to the old fishing villages situated on small islands scattered across the lagoon famous for the original fishermen's houses named "casino". The nearby island "Isola di Barbana" is particularly famous for its ancient Basilica . On the first Sunday of July the people from Grado participate in a religious procession called the "Perdon di Barbara". This day they sail to the island on colorful boats asking the Madonna of Barbara for forgiveness.
MAKE A BIKE ROUND TROUGH THE RESERVES AND CULTURE
For making a bicycle trip, there is plenty of choice. Grado is located near two beautiful nature reserves such as 'Valle Cavanata' and 'La Foce dell'Isonzo'. In these area you can find a large variety of birds, there are about 270 species! From special observation points you can study the birds. The reserves are located along the bike route called "between the lagoon and the sea," a cycle trail of about 30 kilometers where you bike right through the nature and directly along the coastline. Another route is the "Amber Road" of nearly 40 kilometers. This one goes to Aquileia once called 'the city of amber' because this product was traded a lot. A beautiful route that combines nature and culture.
If you want to know more about Grado please don't hesitate to contact me, I will gladly show you around.