Friuli: what to see and do

The relatively short distance between north and south and the proximity to the neighboring countries of Austria and Slovenia puts the region of Friuli in a position to offer the best of both worlds and then some. This site, Turismo Friuli Venezia Giulia was helpful in planning an itinerary. Unfortunately, the whole of Europe was boiling during our trip, so it was near impossible to comfortably get out and visit the bigger cities of Udine, Gorizia, and Trieste on foot. Of the few that we were able to make a decent tour, Aquileia was my favorite. The 4th century mosaic floor in the basilica (thumbs below) is impressive in itself, and it’s humbling to realize that between the floor and the 15th century wooden roof frame, more than a THOUSAND years of history exist in between. Whew!

In Cividale del Friuli, there is an impressive view of a deep gorge and the Natisone River which divides the town in two. This gap is bridged by Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge – sure wish I knew the story to that one.) Grado, like many touristy harbor towns along the coast, is a smaller version of Portofino. Packed during summer with an international crowd, parking near the town center was non-existent (transfer shuttle from outer parking lot runs only on Sunday). Our big regret was not being able to take the motorboat which tours the lagoon. We read about an excellent trattoria on one of its little islands that supposedly serves a seafood soup to die for. I lost sleep over this.

Since touring by air-conditioned car eventually becomes boring, the only thing left to do was to head up north to the alps. There we could get out and walk around without breaking into a sweat. Views like the one above simply take your breath away. Passing through the town of Tolmezzo, I noticed lots of copper pots in the shop display windows. At the village of Sauris in the Carnia area, we participated in a celebration of the locally produced prosciutto (more on this later). Further onward, the scenic route (SS 465) that runs along the Pesarina Valley is gorgeous! Stopping to stretch our legs at one point, I was delighted to identify Devil’s claw (that name again), a flower which proliferated on a large rock surface. Little villages are scattered here and there with an architectural style that reminds me of Switzerland. The air is sweet. Everyone looks so – HEALTHY.

Other points of interest:
Giulie Prealps – home to Mount Canin, the sole glacier in the region. Immediately past the 2nd bridge after Pradielis village, turn left into a hidden parking area. The Torre stream is freezing cold! Less than 5 seconds and our feet were pins and needles. Stupendous vista.
Tarvisio Forest – the detour to the lakes of Fusine is worth the effort. I hope they never turn it into a resort. There’s a walking path around the first lake. Absolute tranquility, except for Maddie who wanted to go after the ducks.
Villa Manin – this needs a mention because of its SIZE. At one time the retreat of Ludovico Manin, a public road passes through the grounds. Located in Passariano.


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