Gorizia - Castello Marco Salateo
The province of Gorizia is located in the south-east of Friuli Venezia Giulia, bordering with Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea. This small area embraces a wide variety of environments and landscapes, as well as many historic and artistic remains that show cultural German, Slavonic and Latin influences.
The coastline is dominated by the wonderful Grado lagoon, an internationally renowned tourist destination with golden beaches and a picturesque set of canals between islands and islets.
In this uncontaminated environment there are two wildlife areas, a perfect habitat for a wide variety of bird species, namely the Riserva Naturale of Valle Cavanata and the Riserva Naturale of Foce dell’Isonzo, where Camargue horses live wild. The rich Isonzo valley is renowned for the production of excellent wines and offers a vast line of vineyards, picturesque small towns and outstanding views.
One of the most peculiar landscapes of the province and the region is offered by the Karst plateau, with calcareous rock and rocky land covered with a rich and colourful Mediterranean vegetation. The Karst is an area of remarkable naturalistic value. It was the scene of ferocious battles during the First World War, and there are some unforgettable signs of that period such as trenches, communication tunnels and fortified areas.
Another peculiar landscape is the Collio, land of outstanding Friuli wines: it is a series of hills covered by vines, dotted with small villages like Oslavia, Dolegna del Collio and Cormons. The characteristics of this area are evidence of an uneasy past and the coexistence of different cultures. It is a unique land which is worth getting to know. It combines and embraces many different aspects like a mosaic.
Gorizia is the first stop on a route to discover the area. It is a “border town” and meeting point for different ethnic groups, preserving in its elegant architecture traces of the Habsburg history and their long dominion.
This town's rich and diversified artistic heritage can be seen in Medieval Castle with its charming small village, the Cathedral and the Musei Provinciali - which enhance many aspects of the local culture. There is also a First World War Museum. The modern Piazza Europa - an urban space in common between Gorizia and Nova Gorica - has a symbolic value, representing the coexistence of two cities and the overcoming of conflicts.
Grado is the ideal destination for beach holidays. It is known as the “golden island” for its clean water and the beauty of its lagoon. It has a unique landscape, dotted by the typical fishermen’s barns, mostly in disuse nowadays. The old city centre of Grado is truly fascinating, with large and small squares in Venetian style. It has wonderful early Christian churches, full of decorations.
Monfalcone is renowned for its shipyards and trading port. Moreover, it has many surprises for tourists: the fortress, located on the hillside of the city and the Gulf of Panzano where the pretty Bagni di Panzano and Marina Julia face the sea.
Gradisca d’Isonzo is also well worth a visit. It is an ancient fortified city with strong Venetian and Austrian influences. Some some of the ancient walls are preserved along with valuable religious buildings and elegant baroque palaces.
From the Karst one may follow archaeological routes leading to prehistoric ruins such as the “castellieri” - ancient urban centres located on the hillsides enclosed by walls that nowadays are practically destroyed - visible from different areas like Ronchi dei Legionari, Monfalcone and the lake of Doberdò.
In the Karst area there are plenty of traces of the First World War: trenches in Monte San Michele and war memorials like Redipuglia, where one hundred thousand of the fallen are buried.
In the heart of Collio, Cormons is well worth a visit. It is an ancient Habsburg town with a beautiful 18th century cathedral and other interesting monuments.
The Sanctuary of Santa Maria di Barbana is also an important religious destination, located on a wonderful small island in the Grado lagoon.
The variety of the landscape in the area of Gorizia allows for the practise of many activities such as hiking, going on cycling trips, riding on the Isonzo valley and on the hills of the Collio, in vineyards and small villages.
In Grado and on the coast it is possible to relax on the beach, go sailing and practise aquatic sports, play golf or tennis. It is also possible to choose a spa treatment at the Terme Marine of Grado, with sea water and sand-baths.
The Wildlife Reserves of the lagoon area are a heaven for birdwatching lovers, while the caves and the depressions of the Karst in the area of Gorizia offer interesting speleology routes.
Gourmand people can follow the Strada del Vino and Ciliegie, a wine and food route in the area of Collio, in orchards and vineyards, with stopovers in farms and wineries, in order to taste wines and specialities.
The province offers a lot of traditional events: one of the most spectacular feasts is the ceremony of “Perdon di Barbana”, an old and fascinating parade of boats from Grado to the island with the Sanctuary of Barbana, scheduled at the beginning of the summer. The “sèime” - of Celtic origin - are epiphany bonfires made almost everywhere in the Isonzo area. From the bonfires, old people aspire for a good omen for the new year.
As far as other events, there is the international folklore concert and parade in Gorizia (in August), the Espomego commodity exhibition in Gorizia (in April-May) and a canoe race in Grado (in April).
There are many feasts on specialities, like the grape festival in Cormons (in September) and the regional sparkling wines exhibition and contest in Gradisca d’Isonzo.
Traditional dishes of the Gorizia area are based on seafood and mid-European tradition.
A typical Grado dish is the exquisite boreto alla graisana, a fish broth. Going inland flavours are stronger, thanks to the Slav and Austrian wine and food influence. Here are some typical courses: bread dumplings with speck ham, liver or semolina dumplings with broth, kaiserfleish (smoked pork loin with sauerkraut), goulash, game, potatoes “in tecia” (sauté with onions) and brovada - prepared with thin sliced turnips, macerated and then cooked.
A typical course in Gradisca is the Jota, a soup made with beans, potatoes, pork rind, smoked pork ribs and sauerkraut.
Typical desserts are gubana goriziana, putizza, pinza (traditional flat bread and palatschinken (apricot jam and chocolate omelettes).
Some of the DOC wines produced in the Collio and Isonzo area are Cabernet, Merlot, Refosco (full-bodied) and the excellent Pinot (white wine) are unmissable.
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