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Gorizia and Gradisca with a glass of Collio

by Marcello Parmeggiani last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

Coasts, castles and squalls - we travel through Friuli-Venezia Giulia towards the garrison towns of Gorizia and Gradisca

A small compendium of the Universe.
These were the words used by the great Italian writer Ippolito Nievo, sadly neglected outside his homeland, to describe Friuli. Snuggled between the Dolomites and the Adriatic, Friuli's coast is a series of lagoons that open out into the Bay of Trieste. The gently rolling landscape is dotted with castles which were built for defence purposes from the Middle Ages until recent times.
The airy resort of Grado and the Isonzo delta are worth visiting on the western part of the coast. As we move eastwards past Duino and Sistiana towards Trieste the coastline gets rocky and the wind stronger (Trieste is famous for its bora, a strong squally northerly wind with gusts of up to 150 km/h).

GoriziaNature at work

Friuli is one of Europe's leading producers of wood, used mainly for manufacturing chairs and other industrial purposes. The north of the region is famous for its pine forests and a wide variety of trees grow throughout the territory. The mountain areas are full of life - wildlife to be precise. Native species include chamois and roe deer, wood grouse, hares, wolves, marmots, eagle-owls and eagles. The once extinct brown bear and lynx have been successfully reintroduced to the area.

GradiscaGradisca and Gorizia - garrison towns
Gorizia (Gorica in Slovenian, Goerz in German) was on the Italian front line during WW1 and was the scene of many a bloody battle. There are signs of the fighting everywhere - from the Cathedral which was largely destroyed then rebuilt after the war to the Castle, the original hub of the town. The church of Sant' Ignazio in Piazza della Vittoria with its Mitteleuropean domes and Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune's Fountain) is well worth a visit.
Likewise, the wars have left their toll on Gradisca and little remains of the old town. Most of the defence structure (a complex system of walls and towers) which surrounded the town is now gone. Only four walls and six towers are still standing although the Torre Grande (Big Tower) reminds us how imposing they must have been. Visit Palazzo Torriani, built between 1644 and 1705, and the home of the Provveditori Veneti (the one-time Governors of the region) which now houses Friuli-Venezia Giulia's Regional Wine House. Treat yourself to a glass of Collio, one of Italy's finest white wines while you sit back and decide what to do this evening.

Collio - - The Collio wine consortium's official web site
Friuli News - - Read the latest news fresh from Friuli every day
What's on in Friuli-Venezia Giulia - - A guide to events and festivals in Friuli-Venezia Giulia

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