Travel Guide to the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region in Italy

Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy is an exotic northern region with golden beaches, picturesque canals, gentle hills and rising mountains.It is made up of  Venezia Giulia that has Trieste as its capital, and the much larger Friuli which has Udine as its capital.

Although the region has seen a lot of turmoil from past invasions over the centuries, today Friuli and Venezia Giulia is a thriving wine exporter, textile producer and agriculture center.

While the region is definitely Italian, there are pockets of the area that show the influence of other cultures that have dominated life since the time or the Romans
as well as its present Austrian and Slovakian neighbors.

Traditions are fiercely held on to, and this can be seen in the south where the old Friulian dialect is still spoken in small areas south of the Alps.
Carnia, Friuli Region

Where is Friuli-Venezia-Giulia?

The Friuli region can be found in north-eastern Italy, it borders the Veneto to the west, Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east. To the south it is lucky to be blessed with the shores of the Adriatic Sea with good beaches and ports which are a contrast to the rolling hills inland.

Because of its location, Friuli-Venezia Giulia has been heavily influenced by its neighbors and other cultures that have dominated it since the Roman times. You will see
Udine is vaguely Venetian, Trieste the capital of the region looks Austrian, Aquileia has preserved Roman ruins, and Gorizia is strongly Slovonic.

Map of Friuli

Why Visit Friuli-Venezia-Giulia?

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is an area that is visited more by Italians and their European neighbors than your mainstream tourists. Therefore this is an untouched region of Italy that is often ignored. However, this is a region visited because of its warm weather, historic sites, great food and wine.

Friuli is an architecturally pleasing area with attractive and prosperous areas to visit despite the fact that in 1976 a large area of the region was devastated by quite a severe earthquake.

It is also an area where the blue Adriatic lies along its southern edge with its shallow lagoons and sandy islands. Do yourself a favor and visit the beautiful sandy beaches of
Lignano and Grado on a sunny summer's day.

Inland the scenery is just as pleasant. The land is mostly flat and planted with corn fields. The southern regions are characterized by hills and slopes and and is the wine and fruit growing area. Up in the hills and mountains and hundreds of castles and forts. Inland from Trieste, there is the limestone plateau of the
Corso , riddled with caves and grottos.

The northern highlands of Friuli-Venezia Giulia includes the
Carnia Mountains , very similar in appearance to that of the Alps or the Dolomites. Here you will find limestone peaks, forested valleys and flowering meadows. It is a great area in the spring, summer and autumn for hiking and walking, and in winter you will also find the odd ski resort offering skiing for everyone at all levels.

Friuli Italy
Cividale del Friuli

5 Most Beautiful Places to visit in Friuli-Venezia Giulia

1) Aquileia
2) Cividale del Friuli
3) Palmanova
4) Trieste

 1) Aquileia

If there is one place to visit Roman ruins in Italy than this is it. In fact this little town is so full of architectural ruins from the Roman times that it is not only called Little Rome , but it has also been declared a UNESCO Heritage site of importance. Founded in the 8th century is has been the object of many archeological diggings and most of what was unearthed is now housed in the National Archaeological Museum.

2) Cividale del Friuli.

Cividale del Friuli is a charming historic town surrounded by an area of outstanding beauty. This too is a UNESCO Heritage site. Not to be missed is the famous Lombard Temple built in the 8th century.

3) Palmanova

Plamanova's geometric plan can only truly be experienced from the air as it is built around a hexagonal piazza and is built as a nine-pointed star.

4) Trieste, Italy

Trieste is splendid and ancient city where the Germanic, Slavic and Latinate cultures converge and where you can visit the fairytale-like Miramare Castle at the sea's edge, and the resorts of Sistiana and Duino .

Trieste has a lot of hotels and so therefore is a good place to base yourself if you want to see the rest of the Friuli region.

Udine is 40 km north of Trieste and is the elegant capital city of the area with spacious tree-lined streets and pretty buildings that is definitely worth a visit.
Ancient architecture of Udine, Italy
Udine, Friuli
Picture by Massimiliano Zambelli,  Archivio Turismo FVG

Budget Travel for Friuli - Venezia Giulia

I don't know anyone who doesn't enjoy getting value for money and when you buy an FVG Tourist card you get just that.

There are 3 types of cards that you can purchase:

A 48 hour FVG Card for Euro 15 
A 72 hour FVG Card for Euro 20 
A  7 days FVG Card for Euro 29

The FVG card comes with a tourist guide to the area, which is rather handy, but more importantly it gets you free entry to the major museums, free transport on some lines, cable cars, tours and good discounts on tickets to the theater, health spas and fun parks.

Where to buy the FVG?

Buy your FVG from the Official Tourist Office in Udine, see details below, from most hotels and local travel agents.

Slow Travel Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Slow Food Italy, Friuli Wine

Wine has been grown here since the times of the Romans for over 2000 years. The majority of the wine grown here is white and it is some of Italy's most highly prized whites and most of it is drunk locally, rather than ending up on the export market.

The whites that grow in the eastern province bordering Slovenia is particularly good.

Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Grigio give wines great depth of fruit. The native grape variety Tokai makes a full, dry white with an interesting herbaceaous character.

There are also some good red wines in the Friuli region. They also make some sweet wine varieties. Top quality wines are made by good wine producers from Friuli-Venezia Giulia - Gravner, Jerman, Collavini, and Mario Schioppetto.

Slow Food Italy, Proscuitto

Fruili's most famous food is probably proscuitto di San Daniele , salted and air-cured raw ham from the town of San Daniele. The ham comes from livestock raised exclusively on approved farms from ten regions of northern Italy.

There is another proscuitto that is also well known locally and that is Proscuitto di Sauris. This is a ham that is cured by being lightly smoked over a fire of beech wood for 18 months before it is ready.

Slow Food Italy, Cheese; Montasio

There is also a regional cheese called montasio whose origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages when it was made by monks. It is made from cow's milk, and is a full-fat, semi-hard cheese with small holes that can be eaten fresh or aged.

Slow Foot Italy, Cheese; Formaggio Asino

For something completely different another speciality cheese of the area is made of ass's milk and is called formaggio asino from Spilimbergo.

Slow Food Italy, Cheese; Formadi Frant

A cheese from Friuli-Venezia Giulia that has been given protection by the Slow Food Movement is Formadi Frant. Originally it was a recipe that used up cheeses were flops and were not suitable for ageing.

Cheeses of various ages were broken up, seasoned with salt, pepper and sometimes other spices and mixed with milk or cream. They were then wrapped in a cloth, placed in a square of cylindrical wooden mold and left for 30-40 days to ripen. This cheese is only produced in Carnia, in the Province of Udine.
Traditional foods of Friuli Venezia-Giulia
Picture by Alessandro Castiglioni,  Archivio Turismo FVG 

Slow Food Italy, Fagagna Pesta

Fagagna Pesta is a small salami made in Fagagna, in the Province of Udine. It is a salami made only between November to February made with finely chopped lard, mixed with sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, galic, carrots, onions, celery and parsley.

It was made as a way of preserving vegetables over the winter and is used in soups, stews and meat dishes as a means of flavoring the dishes.

Slow Food Italy, Pitina

Pitina was a means for the poor to preserve their meat throughout the winter. It is a slow food produced in the Tramontina and Cellina Valleys in the Province of Pordenone.

Minced mutton, goat or venison is mixed with salt, garlic, black pepper, rosemary or wild fennel and juniper berries. The mixture is then shaped into balls, dipped into polenta and smoked over a fireplace using beech 

Pitana is usually eaten raw after at least 14 days of aging, but is also good cooked.

Slow Food Italy, Radic di Mont

Radic di Mont is collected from the fields of the Alps every May by the locals foraging for this tender variety of wild chicory. It can be found on the Alpine slopes 1000 ft in altitude in the areas around Carnic, in the Udine Province. If you are visiting the area in spring look out for the forages with their baskets hunting for this wild delicacy. The chicory shoots are preserved in olive oil, and are often offered along side antipasto meats.

Slow Food Italy, Resia Garlic

In the Resia Valley of the Province of Udine grows a garlic bulb that isn't found anywhere else. It has a pink skin with white bulbs that are unusually formed in a single circle.

Major Festivals of Friuli Venezia-Giulia

There are a number of festivals that take place in this region, but there are 3 main festivals that draw large crowds every year.
  • Udine is known for its Carnevale in February and its Mushroom Festival in September.
  • San Daniele del Friuli has a Prosciutto Festival on the last week of August.
  • Trieste celebrates the Palio of Saint Giusto in September.

Slow Food Traditional Recipes

Recipes from this region often include soups with red beans and vegetables, unusal types of pasta where the pasta is folded over to form envelopes and inside you can find sweet or savoury fillings such as spinach, raisins, chocolate, mint or potato.

The food also has an Austrian influence where you will find apple
strudel on the menu, sugared cinnamon rolls filled with raisins and candied fruit, and rich, meaty goulash and sauerkraut .

How to get to Friuli-Venzia-Giulia

Getting to Friuli by Car:

Getting to Friuli by Plane:

There is a regional airport in Trieste. It is 40km from Trieste, 40 km from Udine, 15km from Gorizia, 50km from Pordenone.

Travel Video on Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Here is a video on Friuli which gives you a quick view of activities and sights the area has to offer.

The Official Tourist Office for Friuli Venezia Giulia

Please contact the local tourist office for more details on this region of Italy:
Tourist Office for Friuli Venezia Giulia
Villa Chiozza,
Via Carso 3 - 33052
Cervignano del Friuli (UD)
 [email protected]
Tel. +39 0431 387111
Fax +39 0431 387199

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