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Friuli Venezia Giulia/Italy

Introducing Friuli Venezia Giulia

From the glories of Rome and the Church in Aquileia to the Habsburg atmosphere of Trieste’s famous cafés, this frontier region offers a disconcerting but delightful gamut of conflicting sensations. This is Italy, isn’t it? Sometimes one wonders.

Friuli and Venezia Giulia, two vaguely delimited regions forced together by circumstance, have multiple identities. Beneath the Italian overlay bubble other cultural currents. In Friuli, much influenced by Venice and later Austria, locals speak their own language (Friulian, or furlan). Further east, the influence of the Slavic world (Slovenia is next door) and the results of centuries of Germanic (that is, Austrian) rule are still palpable today.

The region is a feast of surprises. You might know that some of Italy’s finest white wines are produced here. But did you know that San Daniele ham, one of the country’s most sublime porcine delights, is a prized Friuli feed, or that the world-renowned Illy coffee empire is a Trieste institution?

Surprising towns and villages are cast like so many die across the region’s surface. There is a sprinkling of everything: hiking and skiing in the northern Alpine areas of Carnia and around Tarvisio; beach time on the Adriatic; Lombard art in Cividale del Friuli; the chance to be in two countries (Italy and Slovenia) at once in the border town of Gorizia; bird-watching in lagoons; Udine’s Palladian gems.