Travel Guide of Pordenone, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Pordenone is the main comune of Pordenone province of northeast Italy in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Pordenone is a beautiful, modern, curious and entertaining town, a town still very much tied to its past, as testified by the historical buildings, frescoes and monuments of the charming old town.

Easily accessible by car, train or plane, Pordenone is less than 60 km far from Venice. It is the ideal starting point for some of the most famous itineraries in the area: Prosecco road, Collio, Trieste and Miramare castle, Slovenia, Carso and more.

Starting from the city of Pordenone, called the “painted city”, with its frescoed palaces, Habsburg coat of arms, elegant arcades and Renaissance buildings, you will discover within its territory many tourist gems that leave you breathless.

In the old town there was charm of historical buildings and porticos as well as the poetry of frescoes that seem to tell the history of this centre like pages of a book. Starting from the old City Hall, which features original Gothic architectural elements, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, the former Contrada Maggiore, stretches out as an elegant street flanked by porticos, historical buildings of great artistic interest, carefully-arranged shop windows and cosy cafes.

A town and its river, an indissoluble relationship that has made of Pordenone what it appears today in the eyes of the tourist, a river which was navigable for centuries and contributed to the economic development of this town, by helping create a peculiar propensity to innovation and exchange. The dynamic and creative soul of town is evident from the architectural, artistic, musical and literary production as well as its numerous international events such as “Pordenonelegge”, the “Giornate del Cinema Muto” (Silent Film Festival) or “Dedica Festival”, which have put Pordenone on the map as a culturally rich and original destination at national and international level.

Pordenone means nature too: a few steps away from town, the riverside road called Riviera del Pordenone stretches along the right bank of the river Noncello, featuring a bike lane and wide pavement from which you can admire a magnificent green oasis. Another large green area is Galvani Park, which includes the residence of the Galvani family, built in the late eighteenth century.

Sacile, the “Garden of the Serenissima”, 6 of the Most Beautiful villages in Italy, the wild and steppic nature of the Magredi, the emerald lake of Barcis, the spectacular canyon of Strada Vecchia della Val Cellina and the Dolomites, are just some of the magical places to visit in this area.

The city’s close proximity to Aviano Air Base and Pordenone’s more numerous bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, and attractions than in the town of Aviano.

In Roman times the urban nucleus was located in the upper course of the Noncello river. With the beginning of the early medieval period (from the sixth century) the river routes assumed greater importance and the nucleus of the city moved, consequently, towards the valley, in a position that allowed the landing of larger boats. The city then developed on the right bank of the Noncello river.

Like the rest of Friuli, it was part of the Longobard Duchy of Friuli and later of the Marca del Friuli. For a brief period in which the city was an integral part of the homeland of Friuli, at the beginning of the 13th century, probably after 1221, the Babenbergs, dukes of Austria and Styria and former lords of Cordenons, obtained vassals from the lords of Castello of the Patriarch, the dominion over Pordenone.

In the 14th century the settlement of Pordenone expanded considerably thanks to the flourishing river trade and, in 1314, it was conferred the status of a city. August 23, 1318 a raging fire devastated the city which until then had been built almost entirely of wood. After this disaster, the decision was made to rebuild the city with stone buildings. In 1347 the bell tower was inaugurated.

In 1499 Friuli suffered the worst Turkish invasion in its history. The city also suffered – like almost all cities of the time – many plagues and epidemics, the worst of which occurred in 1630, when almost half of the population died.

On April 20, 1508, Captain Bartolomeo d’Alviano “led the Venetian arms to the conquest of Pordenone”, taking it away from the Habsburgs on behalf of the Republic of Venice. Venice kept the city only for two years since in 1509 it lost it again.

In 1537, Pordenone and the neighboring territories passed under the direct control of the Republic of Venice and remained for more than two and a half centuries. The Serenissima maintained the statutes of the city and recognized, at least on paper, the privileges already acquired during the Habsburg rule; he also provided to reactivate the Pordenone economy by creating a new port and strengthening manufacturing activities.

With the fall of Venice, Pordenone underwent a first return to Austria. The construction of the Pontebbana road and the railway line (1855) Venice-Pordenone-Udine led, on the one hand, to an inexorable decline of the port and of the river route, but, on the other hand, began the affirmation of industry. Starting in the 1840s, numerous cotton mills were built alongside the already numerous paper mills and the Ceramica Galvani factory. After the annexation to the kingdom of Italy, which took place in 1866, the introduction of electricity in 1888 allowed the modernization of the plants and an increase in industrial production.

The destruction caused by the First World War and the crisis of 1929 dragged the cotton sector into a slow decline from which it would never recover. After the Second World War, Zanussi (now part of the Swedish multinational Electrolux), until then only a small company producing economic kitchenspowered by wood or gas, it became a European giant in the field of household appliances, occupying many of the inhabitants of the city.

Main Attractions
Pordenone area is characterized by a great cultural vivacity that can be found in traditional institutions, such as the Mosaic School of Spilimbergo, and in modern museums, like PAFF, the first Comics museum in Italy. A territory rich in art: from Roman ruins, to medieval villages such as Valvasone and Polcenigo, to modern art exhibitions organized by European contemporary artists, Pordenone is a pole of art and culture.

Pordenone, the painted city, welcomes vistors with many frescoed palaces telling the story of the powerful families who lived there: its main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, is proudly called by locals “Grand Canal”, thanks to elegant facades, museums (Ricchieri museum and Bertoia Gallery), and many shops, wine bars and restaurants.

Start from Sacile, called the “Garden of the Serenissima”, where a walk through the canals with a spritz in the main square. San Vito al Tagliamento, full of historical buildings, hides a very special Venetian-style theater. Spilimbergo is home to one of the most renowned and unique mosaic schools in the world, as well as to a medieval and evocative old town. In Maniago the ancient art of cutlery has been handed down for several centuries, and is well represented by the local Cutlery museum. Last but not least, Casarsa, that relives in the words of his most famous inhabitant, Pier Paolo Pasolini, who wrote here his first verses in Friulian.

6 Most Beautiful Villages in Italy presents some true gems: let’s start with Valvasone, a pretty medieval village with a castle that holds a the smallest private theatre in Italy; we continue with Sesto al Reghena, whose Benedictine Abbey dating back to the 8th century is one of the oldest in Europe. Also not to be missed are Polcenigo, a land of water, springs and historic buildings; Poffabro, a mountain village with a characteristic wood and stone architecture; Cordovado, a medieval village remembered by the immortal words of Ippolito Nievo; and Toppo di Travesio, whose imposing castle dominates the Friulian countryside. A mix of stories, suggestive corners and anecdotes.

Religious architectures
Co-cathedral cathedral of San Marco Evangelista, built starting from the 13th century in Romanesque – Gothic style and subsequently remodeled in the 16th and 18th centuries. It contains the altarpiece called Madonna della Misericordia by Giovanni Antonio de ‘Sacchis known as “il Pordenone”. By the same painter are to be admired the frescoes on the right octagonal pillar (San Rocco and the Madonna with the Child Jesus), the doors of the baptismal font and the altarpiece, partly hidden by the high altar of Torretti (master of the more famous Antonio Canova), depicting Saint Mark, owner of the church, which consecrates Ermacora bishop of Aquileia surrounded by the archdeacon Fortunato and the Saints Giovanni Battista, Sebastiano, Girolamo and finally, in armor and on horseback, Giorgio. Numerous other works embellish the interior of the sacred building. Bell Tower of the Cathedral, completed in 1374, later, during the seventeenth century, a spire was added that led it to reach a height of about 72 meters.

Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, known as “del Cristo”. It houses a fifteenth-century wooden crucifix by a Nordic artist Giovanni Tartarico, also known as Johannes Teutonicus. It was built in 1309. Restored several times, it preserves inside a valuable cycle of fourteenth-century frescoes, a Santa Barbara by Gianfrancesco da Tolmezzo (fifteenth century) and a marble portal by Pilacorte (1510).

Church of the Holy Trinity, known as “della Santissima”, along the Noncello river, octagonal in shape, contains sixteenth-century frescoes by Giovanni Maria Calderari, a pupil of Pordenone. In it it is possible to observe, as the background of a biblical scene, a particular representation of the city of Pordenone in the Renaissance period.

Parish Church of San Giorgio. Neoclassical church, with a characteristic nineteenth-century bell tower, Doric column by the architect Giovanni Battista Bassi. On the bell tower stands the imposing statue of St. George, restored by the Pordenone sculptor Pierino Sam. The churchyard has a contemporary monumental fountain, with an octagonal plan, built in corten steel, and refined by Latin inscriptions on the sacred theme of water.

Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine delle Grazie. Neo – Gothic style church, built to replace a pre-existing one from the 17th century, built between 1899 and 1921. It houses one of the largest modern organs in Italy.

Parish church of Saints Ilario and Taziano, in the hamlet of Torre, preserves a Madonna with Child and Saints by Giovanni Antonio de ‘Sacchis known as “il Pordenone”, from 1521. Donato Casella in 1532 sculpted a holy water font. In the front parvis there is the bronze bust of Monsignor Giuseppe Lozer, made by the Pordenone sculptor Pierino Sam.

Vallenoncello parish church, dedicated to St. Rupert, bishop of Salzburg in the 8th century, evangelizer of Bavaria and Illyricum, and to St. Leonard of Noblac. It dates back to the 14th century and contains an altarpiece by Il Pordenone and a work by Calderari. Outside it is visible the precious bronze sculptural work by Pierino Sam dedicated to the Alpine troops who support each other in mutual aid and emotional participation.

Church of the Holy Family, Viale Cossetti, from the 20th century, in a modern architectural style with stained glass windows made to a project by the Pordenone sculptor Pierino Sam (1921-2010), the bronze crucifix on the entrance portal by the same author.

Church of Sant’Anna, located in via Segaluzza di Vallenoncello, is a modest eighteenth-century building. Following Italy’s economic boom of the Second World War the church was swallowed up by the industrial buildings in the area. It is the only religious place in the city dedicated to the cult of the mother of Mary.

Parish church of San Lorenzo Martire, in the hamlet of Roraigrande, preserves the baptismal font, fruit of the collaboration of the Renaissance sculptor Donato Casella with his son Alvise. Inside it is then possible to admire a cycle of frescoes by Giovanni Antonio de ‘Sacchis.

Church of Sant’Ulderico, located in Villanova Vecchia. It contains frescoes by Giovanni Antonio de ‘Sacchis and the stoup and baptistery are by Giovanni Antonio Pilacorte. On the front parvis there is a bronze statue depicting the Blessed Odorico da Pordenone, the Franciscan friar Mattiussi originally from Villanova, a sculptural work by Pierino Sam.

Seminary, here is kept the statue of San Nicolò by the Renaissance sculptor Donato Casella di Carona already on the altar of the parish church of Castelnovo del Friuli.

Civil architectures
The city has many palaces and palaces, both along the ancient Contrada maggiore, today Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, and in Corso Garibaldi.

Contrada maggiore – Corso Vittorio Emanuele II: Palazzo Comunale, built in the Gothic style between 1291 and 1395, scenically closes the street with the pinnacles and the clock tower added in the 16th century on a project by the painter Pomponio Amalteo.

East side (from Loggia del Municipio to Piazzetta Cavour): Palazzo Ricchieri, originally a tower-house to defend the city center built in the thirteenth century, was adapted during the Venetian period into a palace by the Ricchieri family. It is now the seat of the Civic Museum of Art; Polish Palace – Barbarich – Scaramuzza; Montereale Mantica Palace; Palazzo Varmo – Pomo, also known as the Casa dei Capitani; Palazzo Cattaneo (17th – 18th century); Torossi Palace (XVIII century); Brunetta Palace; Palazzo Crescandolo – Milani; Palazzo Tinti; Pittini House; Domenichini Palace – Varaschini; Palazzetto (called Romor); Rosittis Palace; De Rubeis Palace; Bernardi House.

West side (from the Town Hall Loggia to Piazzetta Cavour): Palazzo Rorario – Spelladi – Silvestri, seat of the ” Harry Bertoia “; Municipal Gallery; Palazzo Mantica – Cattaneo; Palazzo Mantica; Gregoris House – Bassani; Gregoris Palace; Palazzo (called Ragagnin); 15th century palace (called Bisol); Palazzo Cortona – Ovio – Floreano; former Concordia or Social Theater; Popaite Palace – Torriani – Policreti; Simoni House.

Castello di Torre, built at the end of the 12th century, residence of the family of the lords of Ragogna, after the assault in 1402 by the Austrian captain in Pordenone Mordax was rebuilt and partly transformed into a stately home. It is the seat of the Archaeological Museum of Western Friuli.

Castle of the ancient town of Pordenone, located in Piazza della Motta. Dated as early as 1200, in 1452 it hosted the Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg and since 1883 it has been used as a prison.

Venetian villas
In the city there are nine buildings protected by the Veneto Ville Regional Institute. Of note are: the Villa Cattaneo, of Gaspera, of the XVII century, whose characteristic is a high arched tympanum (Southern District); the Villa Cattaneo, Cirielli Barbini, probably dating back to the 18th century (Southern District); the Villa Rigutti, Policreti, dating back to the sixteenth century, characterized by a main body, rustic annexes and an eighteenth-century oratory dedicated to San Bernardino da Siena; the Villa Fossati, from the first half of the 17th century, consisting of a villa and a small adjoining church.

Industrial archeology
The urban conglomerate of Pordenone is characterized by the presence of the ruins of industries dating back to the nineteenth century, examples of industrial archeology. Amman – Wepfer cotton mill in Borgomeduna with the nearby nineteenth-century Villa Amman, Carinthia; Mechanical weaving of Roraigrande; Tower spinning; Antica Birreria di Pordenone, located in Via Fontane; Factory – Grinding Company.

Diocesan Museum of Concordia-Pordenone: Located in the Pastoral Activities Center, designed by the architect Othmar Barth (1988), since 1991 it has kept a notable artistic heritage from churches and religious buildings in the diocese of Concordia-Pordenone. Of particular interest are the works of Gianfrancesco da Tolmezzo, Alvise Casella, Pomponio Amalteo and Giovanni Martini.

Civic Museum of Art: The museum is housed in the ancient Palazzo Ricchieri and is an important place for getting to know the artistic production of the Veneto region of Friuli. It houses works by various painters, such as Pordenone, Pomponio Amalteo, Varotari, Pietro Della Vecchia, Odorico Politi and Michelangelo Grigoletti. The museum has a collection of about 170 drawings. Worthy of mention are a black chalk on blue paper “Figure of a minion seized from the back” by Antonio da Pordenone and a seventeenth-century drawing by Palma il Giovane depicting “the Ecstasy of Santa Teresa d’Avila”.

The deposits of the Civic Art Museum also house valuable paintings from the Zacchi-Ruini collection (there are works by Mario Sironi, Renato Guttuso, Corrado Cagli, Alberto Savinio, Filippo de Pisis, G. Zigaina, A. Pizzinato and many others).

Civic Museum of Natural History: Named after the naturalist Silvia Zenari, it houses, in the rooms of the sixteenth-century Palazzo Amalteo, the most important collection of minerals in the Alpe Adria and collections of vertebrates, insects and others.

Archaeological Museum of Western Friuli: The museum, set up since 2006 in the ancient castle of Torre, the last residence of Count Giuseppe di Ragogna, illustrates the archaeological heritage of the province of Pordenone. Of particular importance are the finds from the Pradis Caves and the Palù di Livenza pile-dwelling site. The fragments of frescoes in the Roman Villa of Torre are worthy of note.

PAFF!: The cultural structure, defined by one of its founders, the cartoonist Giulio De Vita, as a “non-museum”, is based at Villa Galvani. It is, on the one hand, a place aimed at spreading the knowledge of “drawn literature”, on the other hand the PAFF! it is a space open to confrontation with all the arts.

Scientific Imaginary Science Center: Branch office of the scientific imaginary science center of Trieste.

Sagittaria Art Gallery: Founded in 1965, it houses works by important artists of the Veneto-Friuli production of the twentieth century, as well as works by internationally renowned artists such as Carlo Carrà and Dino and Mirko Basaldella.

Here you find both Austrian and Slovenian influences, combined with ingredients from the Adriatic coast. Local products, which often derive from a rural and delicious tradition, play a relevant role: some, like the delicious Pitina, the Red Onion or the Formadi Frant, have become real Slow Food products in recent years, thus protected and enhanced. Meet the The two true “kings” of the Friulian cuisine: the frico, a Montasio cheese and potatoes pie, and the San Daniele ham.

A trip to Friuli Venezia Giulia and the excellent restaurants of Pordenone area include typical dishes with ancient origins: frico, a cheese and potato pie; cjarsons, handmade sweet ravioli; risotto with sclopit (silene, a spontaneous herb that can be easily found) and tiramisu, “contended” for a long time between Friuli and Veneto.

A trip to Friuli Venezia Giulia entails discovering traditions, tasting strong flavors and excellent products such as: San Daniele tasty ham; Sauris speck, Montasio cheese, Gorizia rose, formadi Frant, Cavasso red onion and many others including Pitina, a cold cut from Val Tramontina.

The white wines of Friuli are listed among the best in the world and here you can enjoy quality products such as Friulano or Ribolla at really low prices.Pordenone and its territory are part of a small region, Friuli, a unique place for those who love excellent food. Here Italian gastronomic traditions meet Mittel-European suggestions, and the strong mountain flavors are accompanied the delicate sea dishes. Last but not least, vines grow in most parts of Friuli, producing inimitable scents and flavors.

This journey also leads us to the discovery of family vineyards where the art of wine is proudly handed down from generation to generation. Here you find extraordinary varieties, famous all over the world, including Friulano, Refosco, Ribolla, Vitovska. An explosion of colors and fragrances scattered between the Collio, the Colli Orientali, the Grave pordenonesi and the Carso, four areas of wine production within a short distance from each other.

Natural space
Pordenone area offers a huge variety of landscapes, mostly connected with the rivers’ water that flows from the mountains to the Adriatic Coast. Explore it from North to South, looking for its most evocative spots. From the Dolomites to the countryside, discover the beautiful Nature of Friuli Venezia Giulia, a unique land.

The impressive and wild Friulian Dolomites are less known than the most famous Veneto and Trentino Dolomites, but equally beautiful. Here the unspoilt nature prevails, far from the mass tourism itineraries and offering us gems such as the Campanile della Val Montanaia, the symbol of the Dolomites, or the natural reserve of Pianpinedo.

There are many unique destinations including the notorious Diga del Vajont, the ancient villages of Erto and Casso; the Barcis lake, with its fascinating emerald reflections; the paths of the Friulian Dolomites Park.

Not far from here you find the caves of Pradis, where you can try a thrilling canyoning experience, the green Val Tramontina, full of relaxing paths, and the river Arzino, defined by the Financial Times as one of the most beautiful and wild places to swim in Europe.

Exhibitions, museums, such as the one dedicated to the designer Harry Bertoia, and internationally renowned events such as Pordenonelegge and the Silent Film Festival: the territory of Pordenone proposes events, reenactments, cultural festivals and initiatives all year round.

Pordenone is an important business destination, thanks to the presence of many companies in the area, as well as thanks to the role played by Pordenone Exhibition Center, where important events are held during the year. SICAM, Samuexpo and Coiltech are just some of the leading fairs in their sectors and attract numerous exhibitors and visitors edition after edition.

There are many other opportunities to visit the area, during events of national and international importance: from Dedica Festival, which every year analyzes the work of a particular foreign writer; to Pordenone Blues Festival, which has seen performers such as Anastacia, Level 42, Steve Winwood, Morcheeba and many others; to Pordenonelegge, a literary festival where authors meet readers directly; to the Silent Film Festival, appreciated by thousands of fans of the genre, both from Italy and abroad.

This area offers many possibilities in terms of events and historical re-enactments, such as the famous event “Medioevo a Valvasone” that brings the village back to the Middle Ages, or the Cribs Exhibition in Poffabro, a mountain village transformed in an open-air nativity scene for Christmas, or the Xtreme Days in Sacile, dedicated to urban freestyle and extreme sports.

Outdoor activities
This territory offers many possibilities for those who want to experience various activities: from spectacular canyoning experiences to winter sports (downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing), to trekking and Nordic walking itineraries, to discovering the local fauna and flora in the Friulian Dolomites Park, golf, mountain biking …