Travel Guide of Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Udine is a town with squares of Venetian charm and ancient buildings. Udine is the provincial capital of the province of Udine, in the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. On the hill of the town rises the castle: from its walls you can see the whole city, the mountains all around it. Friulian cooking, cultural events and traditional festivals, make of Udine an inviting place for an unforgettable holiday or weekend break.

The town is famous by the venetian squares and the galleries filled with incredible works of art: from Piazza Libertà, defined as “the most beautiful Venetian square on the mainland”, to Piazza Matteotti (or Herbal) which, all surrounded by porticos, seems to be an open-air lounge; here you can observe the slideshow of ancient and colourful historical buildings which impart the spirit of Udine.

Udine is a town with many flavours. Udine has a well-ordered feel that is un-Italian. Two small medieval canals flow through the town centre, sometimes hidden underground and other times making attractive additions to the townscape.

Udine is a historic centre, a grand piazza for admiring and another, ancient but less grand, for relaxing, and a lot of charm. The more modern streets surrounding the historic nucleus are well-laid-out, and dotted with trees and pretty, well-maintained little parks.

Discover the pastel-colored Venetian squares, Greek statues and Roman columns of Udine. The medieval center of this city, ruled by Venice for almost 400 years, is full of elegant architecture in the Venetian Gothic style. Look for the historic buildings, such as the castle, the city hall, and various churches. See the Renaissance buildings and structures in Piazza della Libertà, which is one of the most beautiful squares in the city. See the impressive clock tower, columns, and statues.

Go up the hill in the old quarter of Udine to reach the magnificent Castello. This castle is not the original, but is a replacement built after a devastating earthquake that occurred in the early 16th century. See the collection of objects found in excavations in the area at the Archaeological Museum located inside the castle. In the castle there is also the Gallery of Ancient Art and the Museum of the Resurgence, dedicated to the history of the Friuli region.

The church of Santa María del Castillo, located nearby, is one of the oldest churches in the city. The exquisite façade, rebuilt by the famous Italian painter and architect Gaspare Negro after an earthquake in the 16th century. Inside, you can see several impressive frescoes with biblical scenes.

Continue with cultural exploration at the Museum of Modern Art and Contemporary Art. Modern masterpieces by 20th century Italian artists. The three-level museum is located in a 16th century building in the historic center of Udine. Among the most notable works that you can find here, those made by Morandi, Campigli, De Chirico and Muscaronic stand out.

Stroll through the Orto Botanico Friulano, a beautiful botanical garden that features collections of succulents and ferns. The gardens also feature various species of tropical, desert and local plants.

Most of the restaurants in Udine serve the traditional cuisine of the Friuli region, influences from Austria and central Europe. The most common dishes are thick soups and dumplings.

Udine is a quiet Italian city that has wonderful cuisine and many cultural and historical attractions. It is located about 132 kilometers from Venice. Udine can be date back to 983, the year in which Udine was named in an edict of Emperor Otto I.

Being located in the center of the Friulian plain, it soon increased its importance and became the main center of the region, to the detriment of Cividale del Friuli (Forum Iulii) and Aquileia, which were previously the most important cities in Friuli. With the establishment of the Patria del Friuli, a state belonging to the Holy Roman Empire, Udine became the capital of the new state as well as the seat of the Patriarch of Aquileia. In the Castle of Udine there was the Parliament of the Fatherland of Friuli, one of the first examples of a parliamentary assembly in Europe. In 1420 Venice conquered Udine militarily after a long siege, putting an end to the four centuries of life of the Friuli homeland. After the Restoration following the Napoleonic wars, it was assigned to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and became part of the Italian state starting from the Third War of Independence, in 1866, together with the western and central part of Friuli.

In the eighteenth century, Udine was the city of Giambattista Tiepolo who reached his artistic maturity here: today, his masterpieces can be admired in the Gallerie del Tiepolo (in the Patriarchal Palace), in the Duomo (Cathedral), and in the Chiesa della Purità. Today, Udine is a city that is open to innovation while tying its image to authentic taverns where one of the most-loved rituals is celebrated namely, the tasting of a goblet of wine (tajut) all in a very human and cordial atmosphere.

Main Attractions
The city of Udine preserves the typical imprint of medieval cities. The city developed around the castle hill, in the center, expanding starting from the tenth century (there were five successive walls, up to the fifteenth century, with relative doors and gates).

The fascinating city centre streets are full of fine shops and craft workshops (many of them specialising in Lombard-style gold items), historic cafes and osterias, all in a very human, cordial and hardworking atmosphere.

Friulian cooking, cultural events and traditional festivals (such as Friuli Doc), friendly B&Bs and historic hotels: Udine is an inviting place for an unforgettable holiday or weekend break. Udine is a pleasant, friendly place. In the late afternoon, after work, people often call in to one of the traditional osterias for un taj di chel bon, a good glass of wine in company.

Among the most famous monuments: the Castle located on a hill overlooking the city, the Duomo, the Loggia del Lionello, the Archbishop’s Palace with frescoes by Tiepolo, the Venetian-style Piazza Libertà and Piazza Matteotti, which represents the heart of the city. together with via Mercatovecchio. As far as modern works are concerned, the Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine, inaugurated in 1997, should be noted, the project bears the signature of the engineer Giuliano Parmegiani and the architect Lorenzo Giacomuzzi Moore.

The old residence of the patriarchs of Aquileia, the palazzo Patriarcale, was erected by Giovanni Fontana in 1517 in place of the older one destroyed by an earthquake in 1511. Under the Austrians it was used as a prison. A recension of the Visigothic code of laws, called the Breviary of Alaric, was formerly preserved In the cathedral archives, in a manuscript known as the Codex Utinensis, which was printed before it was lost.

In the 1550s, Andrea Palladio erected some buildings in Udine. The Oratorio della Purità has 18th-century frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo and his son Giandomenico.

The church dedicated to St. Mary of the Castle is probably the oldest in Udine, judging from extant fragments dating back to the Lombard era. It lost its parish status in 1263, when it was annexed to the larger parish of Saint’Odorico (now the cathedral). It has been renovated many times over the centuries: the façade, for example, was entirely rebuilt after the 1511 Idrija earthquake. Its three naves preserve the suggestive atmosphere of silence and contemplation, which is often found in old churches. The Venetian Governor, Tommaso Lippomano, commissioned the Venetian Gothic portico with steps and ramps leading down the hill in 1487.

In the principal square (Piazza della Libertà) stands the town hall (Loggia del Lionello) built in 1448–1457 in the Venetian-Gothic style opposite a clock tower (Torre dell’Orologio) resembling that of the Piazza San Marco at Venice. It was begun in 1448 on a project by Nicolò Lionello, a local goldsmith, and was rebuilt following a fire in 1876. The new design was projected by the architect Andrea Scala.

Opposite the Loggia del Lionello is the Loggia di San Giovanni, a Renaissance structure designed by Bernardino da Morcote. Other noteworthy monuments in the square are the Fountain by Giovanni Carrara, an architect from Bergamo (1542); the Columns bearing the Venetian Lion and the Statue of Justice (1614), the statues of Hercules and Cacus and the Statue of Peace (1819) which was donated to Udine by Emperor Francis I to commemorate the peace Treaty of Campoformido.

The Cathedral of Udine is an imposing edifice whose construction started in 1236, on a Latin cross-shaped plan with three naves and chapels along the sides. The church was consecrated in 1335 as Santa Maria Maggiore. At the beginning of the 18th century a radical transformation project involving both the exterior and the interior was undertaken at the request and expense of the Manin family. The Baroque interior has monumental dimensions and contains many works of art by Tiepolo, Amalteo, and Ludovico Dorigny. On the ground floor of the bell tower (built from 1441 over the ancient baptistry) is a chapel which is completely adorned with frescoes by Vitale da Bologna (1349).

The centre of Udine is dominated by the castle, built by the Venetians from 1517 over a Lombard fortification ruined by an earthquake in 1511. The current Renaissance appearance dates from the intervention of Giovanni da Udine, who finished the works starting from 1547. The castle houses one of the most ancient Parliament Halls of Europe.

Historical heritage
The imposing construction dominates the hill and the entire city of Udine. From time immemorial, there was a fortified site on the hill testified by the Neolithic and Roman remains found on the castle hill.

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Loggia del Lionello
The series of old, brightly coloured, portico-lined piazzas between Piazza Libertà, “the most beautiful Venetian piazza on the mainland” and Piazza Matteotti (or Piazza delle Erbe) have all the atmosphere of an open-air sitting room, and are the very essence of the city.

Loggia and temple of San Giovanni
In front of the Loggia del Lionello there is the loggia and the temple of San Giovanni, built in 1533 by the Lombard architect Bernardino da Morcote. Their realization entailed numerous problems, both on an urban and practical level. The resulting work has a vague Brunelleschi flavor. The church, formerly dedicated to San Giovanni, is now used as a small temple for the Fallen. Also in front of the Lionello loggia, there are the statues of Hercules and Cacus, attributed to Angelo de Putti.

Torre dell’Orologio
Incorporated in the loggia of San Giovanni, the tower was built in 1527 to a design by Giovanni da Udine who was inspired by the Venetian tower in Piazza San Marco. At its top there are the two Moors who strike the hours on a bell, the current copper sculptures date back to 1852 and have replaced the original wooden ones.

Arco Bollani and church of Santa Maria in Castello
From piazza Libertà, continue along the ascent of the Castle, where you then cross the Bollani arch, dating back to 1556, designed by Andrea Palladio and surmounted by the lion of San Marco. You then go through the Lippomano loggia, dated 1487. This leads to the church of Santa Maria di Castello, the oldest in the city. Leaning against the church of Santa Maria is the “house of the Confraternity”, a medieval building restored in 1930. Next to it stands the “Grimani arch” erected in 1522 in honor of the doge of the same name, originally located in via Portanuova and here recomposed in the1902, through the arch you reach the square of the castle.

Built in alternating bands of white and pink stones, it overlooks the central Piazza Libertà (previously called Contarena and “Vittorio Emanuele II”). It is a public loggia in Venetian Gothic style, whose works began in 1448 by Bartolomeo delle Cisterne based on a design by the goldsmith Nicolò Lionello and ended in 1457. In the following centuries it underwent various changes and, following the disastrous fire that destroyed it in 1876, was restored by Andrea Scala who kept faith with the original designs. Most of the works that were present inside are now kept in the city museum. Among these we remember the cycle of canvases of the Serenissima Republic of Venice and the Madonna with child by Giovanni Antonio de ‘Sacchis, dated 1516.

The house of the Contadinanza
The sixteenth-century Roman aspect of the building, which makes it more similar to a stately home than to a military infrastructure, is due to the intervention of Giovanni da Udine, who, starting from 1547, resumed and completed the construction site. Other internal changes were made in the following centuries to be able to use it for the most varied uses: prison, barracks, municipal headquarters, etc. The castle houses the hall of the Parliament of the Fatherland of Friuli dating back to the twelfth century and one of the oldest in Europe.

Casa della Contadinanza
On the grassy clearing at the top of the castle hill, stands the Casa della Contadinanza in which the representatives of the Friulian peasants resided, the third political body of the Friuli homeland. The one visible in the twenty-first century is the copy reassembled here in 1931 of a building dating back to the sixteenth century that was located between via Vittorio Veneto and via Rauscedo. The building later housed the castle armory and in subsequent times it was used as a room for the tasting of typical Friulian products.

Religious architectures:
Metropolitan Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata: Built starting from 1236 at the behest of the patriarch Bertoldo of Andechs-Merania. The construction was completed in a hundred years. Next to the Duomo is the bell tower with the baptistery, home to a small Duomo Museum.
Church of Santa Maria di Castello: This is the oldest church in Udine, dating back to the 12th century and located on the castle hill.
Church of the Oratorio della Purità: Located to the right of the Cathedral, it was erected in 1757 at the behest of Cardinal Daniele Dolfin, who had the previous theater belonging to the Mantica family purchased and demolished, so that near the city cathedral there was no place of fun. The project was entrusted to Luca Andreoli. Inside there are frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo and his son Giandomenico.
Church of Sant’Antonio Abate: Originally it was a Gothic-style building dating back to the fourteenth century, it was erected at the behest of the patriarch Nicolò of Luxembourg, and then transformed in 1733 with the facade by Giorgio Massari, it is located near Piazza Patriarcato. Deconsecrated, it is used as an auditorium and hosts exhibitions and displays.
Inside are the tombs of the last four Patriarchs of Aquileia: Francesco Barbaro, Ermolao Barbaro, Daniele Dolfin and Dionisio Dolfin.
Church of the Beata Vergine del Carmine: Built by the Carmelite friars in the sixteenth century, it is found along via Aquileia, inside the sarcophagus of Beato Odorico da Pordenone is kept.
Church of Our Lady of Charity: Located at the Filippo Renati Institute, dating back to 1762, it became the seat of the Romanian Orthodox parish
Church of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple: This church of the spinsters is part of the ancient boarding school in via Zanon founded in 1595.
Chiesa del Redentore: It dates back to 1733; the façade, in neoclassical style, was built a century later by the Friulian architect Giovanni Battista Bassi; it is located in via Mantica.
Church of San Cristoforo: Here you can admire the beautiful portal in pure Renaissance style sculpted in 1518 by the Lombard sculptor Bernardino da Bissone.
Church of San Francesco: The church was consecrated in 1266 and with the adjoining convent it constitutes the beginning of the penetration of the order of the Franciscan friars in the Patriarchate of Aquileia. The friars were introduced by the patriarch Bertoldo of Andechs-Merania, a personal friend of St. Francis of Assisi. It is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the city due to its pure and simple Franciscan line. Inside, made up of a single nave ending in three apses, there are 14th century frescoes, very worn; represent the oldest examples of painting in the city. The church (deconsecrated) is used for temporary exhibitions, while the convent is the seat of the Court.
Church of San Giacomo: Erected in 1378 at the behest of the “Confraternity of the furriers”, initially as a chapel then enlarged, it is located in the ancient “Piazza delle Erbe”, which later became Piazza Matteotti, but better known as Piazza San Giacomo. The current facade dates back to 1525 by Bernardino da Morcote, while the side chapel was added after 1650. Next to it stands the “Chapel of souls” built in 1744 with a painting by Michelangelo Grigoletti inside.
Church of San Giorgio: It was built starting from 1760, opened for worship in 1780 and only finished in 1831 in Borgo Grazzano. Inside there is an altarpiece from 1529 depicting St. George killing the dragon, the work of Sebastiano Florigerio.
Church of San Pietro Martire: It is located in via Valvason, it was part of the ancient 13th century Dominican convent, it was consecrated in 1285, the current building dates back to the 19th century; Of the primitive construction, only the Lombard portal and the bell tower remain. The interior consists of a single hall without aisles and was decorated with numerous paintings at the time. The church was sacked in 1797 by French troops, who settled there for a certain period. The tombs of noble characters are preserved, a painting by Pomponio Amalteo depicting the Martyrdom of St. Peter and some high-reliefs by Giuseppe Torretti, there are also frescoes by Andrea Urbani.
Church of the Holy Spirit: The original building, located in via Crispi, dates back to 1395 and was then rebuilt on a design by Giorgio Massari in the 18th century. It has an octagonal plan and preserves two canvases by the eighteenth-century painter Francesco Zugno.
Church of San Valentino: Dating back to 1574, it is located in via Pracchiuso, one of the ancient villages of the city, where the festival dedicated to the saint takes place annually.
Church of Santa Maria della Misericordia in the civil hospital: Built in 1959 to a design by Giacomo Della Mea, inside it has mosaics by Fred Pittino, bronzes by Giulio and Max Piccini and in the pronaos graffiti by Ernesto Mitri.
Church of Santa Chiara: It is located at the Collegandato Uccellis, dating back to the seventeenth century, inside it has frescoes by Giulio Quaglio.
Ossuary Temple of the Fallen of Italy: Built between 1925 and 1936 at the behest of Msgr. Cossettini on a project by Provino Valle, with its bulk dominates the opposite square XXVI Luglio 1866, inside are preserved, according to tradition, 25,000 bodies of fallen during the First World War. In reality, the bodies are 21,874.
Manin Chapel in 18th century: building of 1733 with a hexagonal plan in Baroque style commissioned to Domenico Rossi by Count Lodovico Alvise Manin, father of the future doge Ludovico Manin. Inside, on the altar you can admire a Madonna with baby Jesus, the work of Giuseppe Torretti. Also his work are the high-reliefs on the walls: Birth of the Virgin, Visitation, Presentation of Jesus in the temple and Presentation of the child Mary in the temple.
Chapel of Santa Maria del Monte: Attached to the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà houses works by Giulio Quaglio.

Palazzo Patriarcale: It is one of the most famous of the palaces of the city, seat of the Archbishopric.
Palazzo della Provincia: The Antonini-Belgrade palace has been the seat of the Province since 1891, it is located on the sides of the Archbishop’s palace, dates back to the second half of the seventeenth century, in Baroque style, inside it is frescoed with historical and mythological scenes of particular value. by Giulio Quaglio.
Palazzo Antonini-Casa Grande: Former headquarters of the branch of the Bank of Italy.
Palazzo Antonini-Cernazai: It was the first seat of the University of Udine, now the seat of the faculty of literature and philosophy, dates back to the early seventeenth century.
Palazzo Bartolini: Built in the 17th century in Piazza Marconi, it houses the Vincenzo Joppi Civic Library
Palazzo del Comune: Typical example of 20th century Art Nouveau architecture is the Palazzo del Comune or D’Aronco, named after the Friulian architect Raimondo D’Aronco who designed it. It was built starting from 1911 on the site of a previous building of the sixteenth century, it was completed in 1932.
Palazzo Valvason-Morpurgo: Located in via Savorgnana, in neoclassical style it dates back to the 18th century and in 1969 it was donated to the Municipality of Udine, it has a garden with an adjoining loggia. After the restoration, it houses the “Project Galleries” which exhibit the architecture and design archives owned by the Civic Museums; moreover, it is the seat of the Department of Tourism and Culture and a tourist information point.

Cultural heritage
Udine 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.

There are lots of museums you can visit in Udine such as the Gallery of Modern Art, the Project Galleries (in Palazzo Morpurgo), the Civic Museums and Galleries of History and Art with the Ciceri collection, the Archeological Museum, the Gallery of Ancient Art, the Drawings and Stamps Gallery and the Friulian Photography Museum.

Civic museums and galleries of history and art: since 1906 they have been based in the Castle and consist of the Archaeological Museum, Ancient Art Gallery, Gallery of Drawings and Prints, Friulian Museum of Photography, Photo Library and Risorgimento Collections.

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: in the building of the same name, donated to the Municipality by the merchant Dante Cavazzini and the subject of a careful restoration based on an original project by Gae Aulenti, since 2012 it hosts works of Italian art from the late nineteenth century to the present day (among the artists: Luigi Nono, Amedeo Modigliani, Felice Casorati, Lucio Fontana and Giorgio Morandi), the FRIAM collection (a series of works donated, on the occasion of the 1976 Friuli earthquake, by US artists) and the Maria Luisa art collection Astaldi.

Palazzo Giacomelli Ethnographic Museum of Friuli: set up in the restored Palazzo Giacomelli in Borgo Grazzano, since 2010 it has housed objects and artifacts of traditional Friulian life and the sacred, objects of everyday life, clothing, masks, games, music and entertainment.

Gallerie del Progetto: these are located in Palazzo Morpurgo and preserve the architecture and design archives; the archives of the architects Raimondo D’Aronco, Ottorino Aloisio, Pietro Zanini, Marcello D’Olivo, Angelo Masieri and, for design, the Electrolux Zanussi archive stand out in particular. The Galleries also host themed exhibitions.

Udinese cuisine
Friulian cuisine is characterized by substantial dishes such as polenta, frico, soups and minestrone, products from pig slaughter, brovada and musetto, omelettes, especially with local herbs, game, generally accompanied by wine. white (taj of blanc) or red (taj of blacks).

Traditional Slavic dishes have been introduced into the local cuisine, in particular goulash and ćevapčići, accompanied by polenta, and finally local products such as ham di San Daniele, trout and asparagus. Relative the influence of the Gorizia cuisine (potatoes in tecia). On the other hand, the influence of Trieste cuisine on that of Udine is marginal, surviving almost exclusively in the offer of jota and boiled meats (cragno and porcina).

The production of cheeses is important, in particular Montasio (formerly called dairy), the main ingredient of frico, and cured meats, including San Daniele ham, salami, soppressa, lard, tongue, cooked ham in bread. The bread has the characteristic shape of a double croissant. The dishes of the Udinese cuisine can be found in the surviving Udinese taverns.

Among the sweets, typical are the gubana and the strucchi, the crostoli during the carnival period and the broad beans among the Dolci dei morti.

The main wines of local production are, among the great Friulian whites, the Friulano, the Ramandolo, the Verduzzo, the Ribolla (Pinot, Picolit vines), and among the reds, the Merlot, the Cabernet, (Refosco grape). Also noteworthy is the offer of grappas.

The cuisine of Udine, as well as in the taverns and trattorias of the city walls, can be found in the festivals. In Borgo Grazzano, the frog festival (crots) is typical. Friuli Doc has been an important showcase dedicated to local cuisine for several years. Some dishes are prepared for special occasions. This is the case of tripe, prepared in broth or stew (Christmas Eve), herring with onion on Ash Wednesday, mulled wine on Epiphany day.

Natural space
The varied area extends from the beach at Lignano Sabbiadoro, 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 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.

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