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Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a region of contrasts. It has sandy beaches to the south, the Dolomite Mountains to the north, and craggy caves and outcroppings to the east. Likewise, its cultural heritage is vast and varied as it belonged at one time to the Germanic, Slavic and Roman peoples. The art, architecture, cuisine and language of the area is a rich blend unique to this region.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia Weather: The weather is varied in this diverse region. The southern part near the Adriatic Sea enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, and the climate in the northern mountainous region sees more snow and rainfall.
Regional Cuisine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Prosciutto di San Daniele, polenta, trout, musèt con la brovada, Montasio cheese
Regional Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Grappa, Malvasia, Terrano, Refosco, Tocai
Things to Do in Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Roman ruins in Aquileia, Natural Park of the Dolomites, Palmanova, Grand Canal in Trieste
Where is Friuli-Venezia Giulia? Friuli-Venezia Giulia is the most northeastern of the Italian regions. It is bordered by Austria to the north, Slovenia to the east and the Adriatic Sea to the south.
Do I go to the beach or the mountains? Such was my dilemma every weekend when I lived in Gorizia.
I had never even heard of this small Italian city before I decided to sell my home and move there to teach English. From my first day there, I fell in love with the town. There was plenty to see and do. There are sandy beaches in Grado and Lignano, the alpine sport and splendor of Carnia, ancient Roman artifacts in Aquileia and all the amenities of the cosmopolitan center of Trieste.
The best part of my time in this amazing part of Italy? Everything was only an hour or two away from my home. With that one leap of faith, I landed right in heaven on earth.
If there is one town in Friuli-Venezia Giulia that you shouldn’t miss, it’s Palmanova, which was built as a fortress in the unique and highly defensible shape of a nine-pointed star by the Venetians in the 1590s.
The town is entirely enclosed within the fortified walls in their particular enneagon shape, making it the only city of its kind in the world. The only way to get inside is to drive through one of the three original gates in the wall. There is always something going on, whether it is the weekly market, historical reenactments or carnivals. The central square is always alive with people.
Insider tip: Just outside of town to the south, you’ll find outlet shopping centers where you can buy everything from clothes to furnishings at a discount, just like the locals.
Fun Fact: The Battle of Caporetto, described by Ernest Hemingway in his novel "A Farewell to Arms," took place in Friuli. Hemingway served in Italy as an ambulance driver during WWI.
Local Dish: Natives enjoy prosciutto di San Daniele as well as polenta served with a savory sauce made from locally grown mushrooms and herbs.
Local Day Trips: Lignano is a beach resort town halfway between Trieste and Venice that offers exciting clubs for adults along with several amusement and water parks for families.
The marina complex at Lignano is the largest in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe, with 5,000 berths.
Once you dock, there is plenty to do. There are more than 8 miles of pristine beach front at Lignano Sabbiadoro where you can choose from a variety of relaxing or active pursuits.
If relaxation is what you’re looking for, there are world-class thermal baths and spas that use seawater and sand for rejuvenation therapies. Or, you can simply sit under a sun umbrella with a cocktail and drink in the scenic vistas.
Maybe you’d rather spend your time ashore engaging in more active endeavors. There are water sport facilities, classes and amateur competitions daily. A variety of nightclubs and bistros line the beach, and often there are free music concerts in the arena.
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