Tourists have been heading to Italy for a long time but there is still a lesser known part of Italy that many tourists have not yet discovered. Situated above the Veneto region ( think Venice, Verona, Vicenza, Padova) and reaching up to Austria in the north and Slovenia in the east is the unique Italian region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. It’s capital is the former Austro Hungarian city of Trieste. Featuring stunning mountain scenery and a wealth of history and art scattered through old churches, castles and palaces it can be a refreshing part of Italy to visit.
We have been based in San Vito al Tagliamento for almost a week revisiting old friends and places and reminiscing about the past. The bell tower and the piazza were just as we remembered and with further restoration to the old thirteenth century castle and the public loggia and theatre San Vito was looking splendid.
The old town of San Vito is surrounded by the moat of the old castle and with recent rains the water and gardens were sparkling.
As well as a rather large cathedral San Vito has a number of smaller churches which are used at various times for concerts and art exhibitions. The fifteenth century church of Santa Maria Battuti features an important and beautiful series of frescoes by the artist Pomponio Amalteo from the sixteenth century. The entire walls of this small church are decorated with frescoes and it is a privilege to walk inside to have your own tour.
The community of San Vito is enthusiastic about restoring and maintaining its historic buildings and has newly converted public museums with cafes and bars so that people can sit and enjoy relics of the past.
Of course there are many more important towns in Friuli. Aquileia is an hour from San Vito and is a UNESCO world heritage site because of its basilica featuring an exquisite mosaic floor in excellent condition from the fourth century when Aquileia was an important Roman city.
Udine is also within an hour of San Vito and is a bigger university town with smart shops and cafes and again with a series of well maintained historic castles, churches and piazzas
Friuli has plenty of open spaces, gardens and vineyards with cellar doors and most particularly it has the Dolomite mountains of Friuli which feature beautiful walking trails if the weather is kind.
Friuli is big on culture and food as well as history. I was lucky to attend a performance of a French ballet in Teatro Rossetti in Trieste. In the San Vito newly restored Venetian theatre I attended the rehearsal by a local chamber orchestra of a Brandenburg concerto when I could not attend the performance.
Thank you to Eno and Silvana for making our stay in San Vito such a beautiful and memorable experience.