In 1963, it was given special status as one of Italy’s five semi-autonomous regions, the Friuli-Venezia Giulia is quirky, even in its name (Friuli is a change of the ancient name of Cividale today, Foro Iulii “Forum of Julius”, while Venezia Giulia, “Julian Venetia”, also mentions the region’s sustained affiliation with Caesar). Bordered with Austria in the north and Slovenia in the east, it has always been the main point of contention between rival powers. Today, the people of Slavic, German and Italian all call it homeland and are very proud of their local language, Friulano (a Romance language related to Romansch and Ladin of Switzerland). The landscape of the area is equally diverse, with half the Alps, about a third of the limestone (caro) plateaus and the rest of the alluvial and gravel plains sloping down to the Adriatic.
The cities and towns here are quite as different as one might expect. Trieste, the capital, is a luxury Habsburg structure, built by Austria to introduce the empire’s only port. In spirit and form it is essentially Central Europe, a character it shares with Gorizia, in the north, although the latter has a more Slavic flavor, and is in fact located on the border with Slovenia. Both cities benefit from castles that tower over central hilltops, offering memorable vistas and providing access to Carso – the windswept limestone plateau that stretches towards east to Slovenia – while Trieste also boasts its very own coastal zone, complete with attractive beach resorts.
A little further west, Udine‘s architectural and artistic collections evoke Venice’s most splendid beauty, while the UNESCO-listed Cividale del Friuli preserves a beautiful historic center. the painting is located on the blue Natisone River. Archeological-minded, however, head straight to Aquileia and the ruins of the Roman capital Friuli, with its impressive basilica and giant Christian mosaic. From here south to the lagoon Grado resort, which hides a beautiful primitive Christian center surrounded by beach hotels.
Best tourist activities in Friuli Venezia Giulia you should not missed:
1. Following the Romans at Aquileia
The Roman Empire was sprawling and pervasive during its time, so it is not surprising that Roman ruins can be found even in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Don’t expect a Colosseum, but the ruins of the magnificent mansions, temples and bathrooms provide a reminder of the splendor of the Roman Empire. It was here, after all, that Emperor Augustus took over the Great Herod in 10 BC and once again served as the site where the original Christian church held a council dealing with catechetical matters. in the year 381 AD. Today, Aquileia is not merely a village, but the site of Aquileia is believed to be the largest unexplored Roman city and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
2. Visiting the castle of the king of Mexico
Castello di Miramare (or Miramare Castle) is a commanding presence on Trieste Bay and is a “new” mansion, it was not built until the 1860s. Built by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Hapsburg for people His beautiful wife, Charlotte of Belgium, the castle is said to be cursed for the terrible fate that both Maximilian and Charlotte have suffered. They became Emperor Maximilian I and Queen Carlota of Mexico in April 1864 after Napoleon pressured them during the French intervention in Mexico.
Despite the curse, be safe to take a day trip to Castello di Miramare and visit about 20 rooms that are still furnished by Maximilian and Charlotte’s original furnishings.
3. Going deep underground at Grotta Gigante
Friuli Venezia Giulia is home to the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest tourist cave on Earth, Grotta Gigante. It is a single cave that is estimated to be 10 million years old and stretches a staggering 280 meters wide, 65 meters wide and 107 meters high.
Even though this is a tourist cave, you have to descend 500 steps to reach the bottom of the cave at a depth of about 80 meters. The steps are divided into comfortable ramps, but this particular cave is not best suited for those who have difficulty walking or climbing the stairs.
4. Cycling Alpe Adria
Crowned as the best bike path in Europe at the 2015 Fiets en Wandelbeurs travel fair, Alpe Adria leads cyclists from Salzburg to Friuli Venezia Giulia for about a week. Starting from the city of Mozart, a bicycle path that takes cyclists across Austrian valleys and mountain ranges, passes through towns like Bockstein, Villach and Arnoldstein before crossing the Austro-Italian border and meanders through the ancient mountains and villages of Tarvisio, the vineyards of Gemona and Udine, and finally ends at the Adriatic Sea in Grado.
5. Deep snow and uncrowded skiing
With the famous Dolomites ski resorts just across the border in Veneto and Südtirol, it’s no wonder that Friuli’s Dolomites and Julian Alps are often overlooked as a ski destination.
Besides, The highest ski resort in Slovenia is also linked to the Friulian Sella Nevea ski resort, which offers a cross-border (or snowboard) ski experience. The two resorts operate with a single ski pass and access from both the slopes of Slovenia (Bovec) and Italy (Sella Nevea). Not only that, but Bovec Kanin-Sella Nevea’s season lasts until early May – long after Friuli’s other ski resorts close for the season. The ski resort Tarvisio is also the place chosen by many tourists.
6. Swimming at the Arzino Valley
A wild beach that should not be missed if you happen to be around in the Dolomites, in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, is Cerdevol Curnila located in the Arzino Valley. The Crown jewel of this place is the Arzino creek that shapes the rocks in such a particular way, forming stunning emerald coloured pools. It’s just perfect for nature lovers who enjoy diving and swimming in pristine clear waters or simply sunbathing and relaxing with the soothing sound of the water flowing by.
Besides spending some quality time at the Cerdevol Curnila beach, other activities that can be experienced in the Arzino Valley are: visiting the Arzino waterfalls and the initial spring waters, canyoning, trekking, climbing, rafting, kayaking and mountain biking. Furthermore, the surroundings of the Ceconi Castle can be also explored which is very close to Cerdevol Curnila Beach.
Let’s meet Isa and David from Hop on the Map youtube channel, a travel addicted couple that, bitten by the travel bug, decided to leave their jobs and home in London to explore the world. So far during these five years together they have visited Myanmar, Thailand, UK, Hungary, Italy, Vatican City, Spain, Portugal, France and Monaco. They are currently in Italy but can’t wait to head to South East Asia or South America.
“If you watch the video, you will understand why it was rated as one of the best wild swimming spots in Italy by the Financial Times.” said Isa and David. The couple also shared experiences about their trip:
· We highly recommend wearing suitable shoes to access the beach.
· Take food and water with you, as you can imagine there are no kiosks or supermarkets around.
· Mother Nature gifted us with this beauty, so make sure you do not leave any rubbish behind.
· Weekends are busier than weekdays; this hidden gem has become more popular over the last few years during the summer season.
They love connecting with other people and talk about travel, so don’t hesitate to DM them for a chat. Follow their adventures on Instagram and YouTube.
Thanks Hop On The Map for writing on this experience at Arzino Valley with us, and don’t forget to share your trips via email@example.com, or our Facebook/Twitter.