Friuli, peripheral? Not 2000 years ago. Colonised in 181 BC, Aquileia was once one of the largest and richest cities of the Roman Empire, at times second only to Rome, with a population of at least 100,000 at its peak. After the city was levelled by Attila's Huns in AD 452, its inhabitants fled south and west where they founded Grado and then Venice. A smaller town rose in Aquileia's place in the early Middle Ages with the construction of the present basilica, though it still went on to become the largest Christian diocese in Europe. Conferred with a Unesco World Heritage listing in 1998, this charmingly rural town/living museum still guards one of the most complete, unexcavated Roman sites in Europe.