The Province of Udine is located in mideast Friuli Venezia Giulia, bordering Austria to the north, Slovenia to the east and, to its south, the Adriatic Sea.
This varied area extends from the beach at Lignano Sabbiadoro - a popular destination for tourists - to the snowy mountaintops of the Alpine Foothills, Carnic Alps and Julian Alps. These mountains are perfect for ski vacations amidst breathtaking landscapes, on ski slopes like Forni di Sopra, Sella Nevea and those at Tarvisiano. Numerous protected areas, such as the Friulian Dolomites National Park, make it possible to see deer, chamois and ibex. Then, the Tarvisio Forest, in the heart of the Julian Alps, is one of the largest wooded areas of Europe, with a wide variety of animals.
Exciting destinations - particularly for excursions - include the coastal lagoon within the Bird Oasis of Marano Lagunare, with a variety of birds season to season, and the Fusine Lakes Basin located in the impressive mountains of Tarvisiano area. Tarvisiano is famous for its charming landscape and the beauty of its colors. The area is characterized by the Tagliamento River, accompanied by an array of fascinating landscapes, and known for the local battle theatre of the First World War.
In addition to its natural wonders, the Province preserves significant cultural heritage, evidence of a complex and tumultuous history: archaeological sites like Aquileia, with its remains of a Roman city and of an early Christian cathedral; the city of Udine, full of artistic evidence; important sites like Cividade del Friuli and Palmanova. The area is also dotted with many villas, towers, abbeys and castles in the countryside and in the hills.
Its genuine gastronomy, specialties and renowned wines give a magic touch to this extremely charming land, from San Daniele - where the famous prosciutto originates - to Colli Orientali (Eastern Hills) del Friuli, replete with vineyards.
The first stop of the route is Udine, considered the city of Tiepolo (18th Century), given that it preserves many of his own masterpieces, and those by his son Giandomenico; some of these include the frescoes that decorate the Duomo, the Archbishop's Palace and the Oratory della Purità.
With its squares and charming loggias, the ancient center boasts many elegant buildings in the Gothic-Venetian style, such as Palazzo Comunale and the Loggia del Lionello, evidence of Udine's centuries-old ties with the Most Serene Republic of Venice.
The majestic and sumptuous Udine Castle, situated atop a hill, is rather remarkable. It is the site of the Civic Museums, comprising the Archaeological Museum, the Drawings and Prints Gallery, the Museum of Photography, the Photographic Archive and the Ancient Art Gallery, with precious paintings from the 1500s to 1800s.
In the coastal area, Lignano Sabbiadoro is an ideal touristic destination: miles of beach, clean and calm sea, ideal for a vacation filled with sports, fun and relaxation.
Aquileia is also a big draw for culture seekers: it was one of the main cities of the Roman Empire, later an important clergical center, and an UNESCO World Heritage Site for the value and importance of its art and history. The archaeological site and its Museum render palpable the magnificence of the Roman era, while the structure of the Patriarchal Cathedral and the wonderful mosaics of the Paleochristian Museum provide historical evidence and examples of early Christian art.
Palmanova is another site of remarkable historical relevance. It was founded at the end of the 16th Century in order to protect the possessions of the Venetian Republic; it bears a perfect star-shaped nine-point floor plan, considered a masterpiece in defensive engineering.
Not far away (near Passariano), it is possible to see the majestic Villa Manin, totally incorporated into the surrounding landscape. This elegant mansion of Ludovico Manin, the last Doge of Venice, is also famous as venue of the signing of the historic Treaty of Campoformio (or Campoformido).
In a hilly, castle-dotted zone near the River Natisone rises the charming Cividale, a small village and capital of the first Longobard Duchy. It preserves marvelous artistic and architectonic gems, particularly the famous Longobard Tempietto, a wonderful example of High Middle-Ages architecture decorated with frescoes and stuccoes; followed by the impressive Cathedral and Ponte del Diavolo (Devil's Bridge), with a spectacular view on the river and on its surroundings. Remarkable is also the National Archaeological Museum, with a valuable collection of objects and finds from the Roman and Middle Ages.
Among the numerous religious sites is the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Castelmonte, situated in the Alpine Foothills; located in a rather panoramic landscape, it is an important pilgrimage site.
Of the other peculiarities of the area, the old castles route should not be missed: it leads to Castello Valentinis in Tricesimo, and Castello of Cassacco or Colloredo in Monte Albano, a sumptuous structure where Ippolito Nievo once lived.
Beaches, mountains, hills and spas: the Province of Udine offers numerous an opportunity to practice outdoor activities in any season.
And in the coastal area, it is possible to practice aquatic and nautical sports: think trekking, riding and cycling. One may hike unique natural spots, like the Lagoon of Marano, ideal for observing plenty of bird species in any season.
Forni di Sopra, Ravascletto, the Tarvisiano area and Sella Nevea, the mountains of the Province, are uncontaminated environments where vacationers will enjoy snowshoeing, climbing on frozen falls and, especially, skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing, thanks to a dense network of ski slopes that run right up to the borders with Austria and Slovenia.
On the green hills close to the Alps - on the Lignano Sabbiadoro coast - several golf courses allow visitors to combine sports, amusement and relaxation.
One can opt for wellness treatments at the thermal spas of Lignano Sabbiadoro, combining the precious qualities of seawater with those from hot springs. Other thermal resorts lie nearby, such as Arta Terme in Carnia, renowned since Roman times.
The area boasts a year-round calendar of events, particularly the Epiphany bonfires (pignarui), of Celtic origins and representing auspicious omens for the new year. In Cividale del Friuli the Messa (Mass) dello Spadone is celebrated on January 6th. Religious events include the Palio di San Donato in Cividale del Friuli, a costumed parade held in August; and a remarkable folkloric event, the annual historical re-enactment of Palmanova, held in July.
Many sagre or fairs celebrate local specialties, for instance wine the famous prosciutto of San Daniele and Sauris.
The main ingredients of the culinary tradition of Udine are the fruits of the land, above all rice, beans and vegetables. In the lowland and lagoon areas are mostly seafood courses - particularly the fish broth typical to Marano Lagunare.
Further inland and north, meat and stronger flavors predominate, with potatoes, bean soups and bisna - a form of polenta with beans and sauerkraut - rather widespread. Besides the rice dishes, the typical dishes of the area are the cjalzons, ravioli stuffed with cheese, eggs and vegetables; frico, fried Montasio cheese; omelettes with herbs and cooked salami with polenta.
Among the specialties of the hilly area of Forgarese are stewed wild boar with cornmeal, stewed roe and tagliatelle with hare ragù.
And San Daniele and Sauri prosciutto are internationally-renowned cured hams.
Regarding desserts, the gubana is a mille-feuille with walnuts, liqueur and spices, typical of the Natisone Valleys.
Finally, Udine Province offers a wide variety of exquisite and famous wines: think Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and the rare Picolit.