Friuli, Italy, guide: what to see plus the best bars, hotels and restaurants

October 3, 2016

This border region of north-east Italy has stayed out of the limelight but offers dramatic Alpine scenery, gorgeous Adriatic lagoons, and a wealth of local wine, fine cuisine and history

Driving east from Venice along the autostrada, it only takes half an hour to leave the tourists behind and cross into the very different world of Friuli. This autonomous and proudly independent region is officially known as Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a wild and still little-known corner of Italy that has its own language, a distinctive local cuisine, and a host of world-famous wines grown on rolling hillside vineyards. Strategically located at the crossroads of central Europe, Friuli stretches over Italy’s north-eastern border, from the lagoons and sandy beaches of the Adriatic coast to the grand maritime port of Trieste, along the frontier with Slovenia, then up into wild Alpine scenery and the border with Austria. The first visit here can come as a surprise, compared with Tuscany or Umbria. But it is so easy to fall under the charm of the unspoilt landscape and the warm welcome that many travellers find themselves returning.

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Related: Discover the place where ice-cream was invented: Valle di Cadore, Italy

Related: Italy’s best-kept food secret: the sagra festival

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