Friuli Venezia Giulia - Things To Do
The only thing more diverse than the wild landscaping of Friuli Venezia Giulia itself is the number of exciting activities the land has to offer. The region, located in the top northeast corner of Italy, is a thrilling combination of craggy mountains, rolling green hills, a distinguishing plateau, and beaches, all of which offer their own unique attractions and treasures.
Festivals & Events
Much of the focus for local festivals is religion. El Pardòn di Barbana is a religious tradition of the municipality of Grado that takes place the first Sunday in July and honors Madonna degli Angeli for ending the plague during the early thirteenth century. A statue of the Madonna is carried from Basilica of Sant Eufemia to a port where it is transported via a traditional boat procession to the island of Barbana. The Veindre Saint of Casso takes place in Erto and is a realistic depiction of the events leading up to and including Jesus’ crucifixion. The reenactment dates back to the seventeenth century and happens every Easter weekend rain or shine.
Friuli Venezia Giulia’s rich history and culture make celebrations of these traditions more prevalent than any other. One of the oldest events dating back almost 750 years is the festival of the Osei, a celebration of birds where bird calling is a serious competition. The summer Festival dell’Operetta honors the region’s rich musical history by presenting various musicals and operettas to the people.
Sapori di Carnia is a celebration of the region’s culinary delights that begins in the streets of Raveo before winding through local villages that offer a diverse taste of fruits, meats, and cheeses.
Some of the festivals simply pay homage to the area’s gorgeous natural surroundings. Every April, locals and visitors flock to Grado to catch a glimpse of the annual canoe race. The Gulf of Treiste is home to Regata d’autunno, a historic boat race consisting of more than two thousand boats that earn the event the title of the world’s largest sailing regatta. For those interested in checking out the natural beauty of 26 miles of land by foot, The Marathon of Europe sometimes called Bavisela attracts more than seven hundred runners to Trieste each May.
With no shortage of breathtaking scenery in Friuli Venezia Giulia, exciting outdoor activities abound. For those visiting in the winter, the region offers amazing mountain skiing and snowboarding. Nestled among the snow-capped mountains are a dozen or more luxury ski resorts that sit atop miles of ski slopes. One of the premiere destinations is Forni di Sopra. It is the highest ski destination in the region’s Carnia Alps.
The mountains are also a draw in the warmer spring and summer months. Late spring covers the mountainsides and lush valleys with a colorful blanket of more than three thousand wildflowers. The pristine and untouched wildlife attracts hikers and trekkers via guided adventures through the unique flora and fauna found here.
Hikers and bikers are specifically drawn to the rolling green hills of Isonzo Valley in Collio. The winding roads take them on a spectacular journey through charming little villages and acres of vineyards.
If soaking up the sunshine of the coast is where you prefer to be, the Gulf of Trieste offers a myriad of water based activities that seem all the more enchanting because of the crystal blue water and mysterious caves below. One of the best ways to view the local marine life is to sail or go scuba diving.
The commune of Grado and its highly popular beach are perfect for a day of leisure, whether it is spent playing in the water or rejuvenating at one of the area’s high-end spas.
Life in Friuli Venezia Giulia is best experienced at a delightfully slower pace. Locals enjoy each day and the beauty it has to offer and many of the region’s activities reflect it.
A tourist favorite is the Strada del Vino e delle Ciliegie which translates as The Wine and Cherry Trail.
The journey offers rest to its travelers via picturesque stopovers at numerous local farms, orchards and vineyards. Radikon, Schiopetto, and Zidarich are some of the best known wine producers in the area and have wineries where visitors can taste test the internationally famous wines.
Along the Karst Plateau sit dozens of small, quaint villages that provide a delightful daytime excursion.
The villages exude charm with enchanting stone houses and cozy eateries. The passage is a wonderful way to take in the unique scenery of the Karst while experiencing history and local cuisine.
If sore feet from your travels are holding you back, a visit to one of the region’s spas may be in order. A number of luxurious spas and thermal resorts in the area offer pampering and restorative services such as special seawater treatments that are unique to the area.
Family to do in Friuli Venezia Giulia
Whether it’s golfing amongst the land’s natural beauty, playing in the Lagoon of Marano, or touring the region’s impressive collection of castles, there are plenty of exciting activities for the whole family.
The Castle of Gorizia offers stunning views of its namesake’s town and the majestic Alps. This eleventh century structure built upon a rolling green hill looks to be straight out of a child’s fairytale story. Inside the castle is the Museum of the Middle Ages of Gorizia which showcases original furnishings, knights’ suits of armor, and reproductions of weapons from that period.
Also not to be missed is the Castle of Udine. This early sixteenth century structure is stately and reminiscent of a large and elegant mansion. Today it is home to the History and Art Museum of the City of Udine.
Families that prefer to enjoy the splendor of local beaches will enjoy Baia Sistiana. The beach is considered to be one of the best in the region, with a number of lodging options and water-based activities. Some of the more popular activities along the beach include sailing, scuba diving, and swimming.
Friuli Venezia Giulia With the Kids
Friuli Venezia Giulia is a glorious playground for children with a number of gorgeous castles, dinosaur adventures, and bob coasters.
Castles were very much a part of the region’s early culture and are still a major tourist attraction today.
The historical structures sprinkle the entire region. Some of the more popular castles are Duino, Muggia, and Miramare in Trieste. Also of note are the many castles of Udine near the Natisone River. However, no castle expedition is complete without visiting some of the older structures in the area such as Castello Valentinis and Castello of Cassacco.
Follow the trails of Antonio the dinosaur’s prehistoric footprints. The dinosaur’s skeleton was discovered close to the village of San Giovanni but is now relocated to the Civic Museum of Natural
History in Trieste. The trails close to where his skeleton was found give childlike insight into what locals affectionately call the dinosaur of the Dolomite Mountains.
Continuing with all things dinosaur, children will enjoy visiting the Parco Naturale Regionale delle Dolomiti Friulane to see real dinosaur fossil footprints. The large footprints are found in a great Dolomitic boulder that dates back to more than two hundred million years ago in the Triassic period.
Young kids, and even some adults, are enchanted by walking a path that dinosaurs once roamed.
A favorite for many is the Alpine bob coaster. The ride is similar to a roller coaster that goes only twenty-five miles per hour for about half a mile. The coaster winds through the mountainside giving riders a bird’s eye view of spectacular scenery and the thrill of rushing through the crisp mountain air.
Unique Experiences in Friuli Venezia Giulia
While many of Friuli Venezia Giulia’s experiences are not activities of a typical vacation, perhaps none are more unique than those of the Karst Plateau and Grotta Gigante.
The Karst Plateau rises high above the Adriatic Sea and is home to unusual wildlife, rock formations, and eerie caves that practically call to its visitors. Enjoy a long walk along Rike’s path to take in the magnificent reefs of the Falesie di Duino Reserve. Consider a serene guided horseback ride through the lush vegetation. Hike, bike, or climb the sometimes challenging rocky cliffs of the plateau. Adventure into the eerily silent caves and caverns. Traverse the popular waterways via kayak, canoe, or raft. There is no shortage of physical activities at the Karst Plateau, making it a wonderful place for family or group activities.
The earth’s largest tourist cave, Grotta Gigante, is a more than ten million year old natural phenomenon.
The cave is a staggering 213 feet wide, 351 feet high, and 918 feet long. Take advantage of guided tours to hear about the cave’s formation and see one of the largest collections of cave stalactites and stalagmites. Good walking shoes and a fair level of physical fitness are helpful when enjoying Grotta Gigante.
If you walked the entire length of Friuli Venezia Giulia, virtually every mile would hold a treasure of its
own. As you travel the region, remember to slow your pace and take in the natural beauty and historical treasures of this northeast corner of Italy.
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