The Grave in the province of Udine

This route starts from, and returns to, Udine. It takes you through the Colli Occidentali del Friuli and the part of the Friuli-Grave DOC – the largest zone in the region – that lies in the province of Udine. The terrain, called magredi, has little surface water. Prevalently stony and gravelly, the magredi are a superb  environment for cultivating vines, which were planted here in Roman times.
Their outstanding fruit yields fragrant whites, like Tocai Friulano, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco, as well as full-bodied reds, including Merlot. This is a zone of resurgent springs, which form small pools of crystalline water surrounded by luxuriant vegetation. Visitors will find castles, ancient villas and characteristic villages to explore.

Typical products: Prosciutto di San Daniele air-cured ham, other cured meats, cheeses (including Montasio, whose protection consortium is based at Codroipo), trout and trout-based processed and conserved products (fillets, mousse, smoked trout), honey, grappas and spirits, asparagus, mushrooms, snails.

Typical dishes: Risottos and omelettes with aromatic herbs, soups, gnocchi (small potato dumplings), pork-based main dishes, game with polenta, frico (fried cheese), brovada e muset (cotechino sausage with sliced pomace-steeped turnips).

Cycling itineraries

The Castles of the Friulian Hill Country: Tarcento - Colloredo di Montalbano - Rive d’Arcano - San Daniele del Friuli - Treppo Grande - Tarcento (50.4 km - 6/7 h - difficult)
The Villas of Lower Friuli: Udine - Pavia di Udine - Percoto - Santa Maria la Longa - Lumignacco - Udine (43.7 km - 4/5 h - easy)
The Source of the Stella: Codroipo - Passariano - Bertiolo - Flambro - Sivigliano - Sterpo - Bertiolo - Codroipo (33 km - 4/5 h - easy)

Itinerary: Udine - Tricesimo - Cassacco - Colloredo di Montalbano - Moruzzo - Fagagna - Rive d'Arcano - San Daniele del Friuli - Codroipo - Camino al Tagliamento - Talmassons - Mortegliano - Pavia di Udine

Udine, capital of Friuli, is an elegant city with interesting museums and a well conserved historic centre. Any tour of Udine should start from Piazza della Libertà which is, according to one very well-worn, but certainly justified, definition, the loveliest “Venetian” piazza on the mainland. Overlooking the square is the Loggia di Lionello, its arches and delicate alternating pink and white decorative stone providing one of the city’s most emblematic views. The story of the loggia runs parallel with that of Udine, at whose heart it was constructed in the mid fifteenth century to give the Comune, the town’s ruling body, a new, prestigious home. It has kept that function, albeit with various ups and downs, to the present day for the Udine town council still meets today in one of its halls. Opposite, the sixteenth-century Loggia di San Giovanni is flanked by the Torre dell’Orologio, the clock tower, whose two Moors hammer out the hours. This was once an entrance to the castle, whose impressive, frequently restructured bulk, today reminiscent more of a palazzo than a feudal residence, dominates the piazza below. Now, the way up to the castle is through the Arco Bollani. On top of the arch, built in 1556 to a design by Andrea Palladio,
stands the Lion of Saint Mark. Once you have passed the church of Santa Maria in Castello, the most ancient in the city, an elegant stepped portico leads to the top of the hill. Next to the castle, which houses the art collections of the civic museums, are the Casa della Confraternita di Santa Maria and the Casa della Contadinanza.
Back in Piazza della Libertà, shoppers will find tempting retail outlets and boutiques in Via Mercatovecchio, the portico-lined main shopping street, and in Piazza Matteotti, one of Udine’s most attractive corners which is still the venue for an open-air market. Places to see in the centre of Udine are the Duomo, or cathedral, the baptistery and the Oratorio delle Purità, frescoed by Tiepolo and visitable by appointment (apply to the sacristy or tel. +39 0432 506830), all of which stand round Piazza Duomo. Another place to visit is the Palazzo Patriarcale, which boasts a superb cycle of paintings by Gian Battista Tiepolo, including the outstanding stories from the Bible in the great gallery. It is also the home of the diocesan museum. The Gallery of Modern Art is also worth a visit for its paintings by the leading twentieth-century Italian artists and by Friulian artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Palamostre, Piazzale Diacono). Finally, remember to call at La Casa del Vino, in the ancient Palazzo Tritonio-Moroldi Beretta, which showcases the finest of Friuli-Venezia Giulia’s wines and is also the home of the Wine Service of ERSA, the regional body for the promotion of agriculture (Via Poscolle 6, tel. +30 0432 297068).

Festival and events
Mercatino dell’Antiquariato antique fair in Piazza San Giacomo/Piazza Matteotti - first Sunday of every month
Udine Pedala cycling fun run - June
Estate in Città city centre events - July and August
Folkest international festival of folk music at Udine and surrounding area - July
Friuli DOC wine, food, events - September
Fiera di Santa Caterina fun fair in Piazza 1° Maggio - 25 November
Mercatino di Natale Christmas market at Udine Fiere - from mid December

The following are the main fairs held in the trade fair area of Udine Esposizioni at Martignacco:
Mostra d’Antiquariato Alpe Adria antique fair - February
Hobby Sport Tempo Libero sport and leisure fair - March-April
Casa Moderna home fair - September-October
Ideanatale Christmas gifts - November

Parish church (eighteenth century). Castle (sixteenth century), with sanctuary on hill overlooking the Friulian plains.

The town is dominated by the impressive bulk of the castle (fifteenth century, now privately owned) with the chapel of Santa Maria Assunta. At nearby Montegnacco is Villa Gallici Deciani (sixteentheighteenth centuries).

Colloredo di Monte Albano stands in the shadow of its imposing castle. It was the home of writer Ippolito Nievo, who wrote his most celebrated novel Le Confessioni di Un Italiano (Confessions of an Italian) here between 1857 and 1868, drawing his inspiration from the area and the events in local people’s lives. Today, the castle is the focus of a literary park dedicated to Nievo. Severely damaged in the 1976 earthquake, the castle has more than three hundred rooms, many of which have now been restored. The monumental complex is made up of several fourteenth-century buildings, Its distinctive white profile, surmounted by a clock tower, can been seen from a great distance on its hilltop, at the centre of the morainic amphitheatre that embraces Udine to the north
east. In the village itself, the fourteenth-century frescoes in the chapel of San Pietro Apostolo are well worth a visit.

Festa del Pane bread fair - April

Castle (dating from twelfth century). At nearby Santa Margherita del Gruagno is the parish church of the same name (dating from the eleventh century, with eighteenth century additions), at San Tomaso di Majano is the church of San Giovanni di Gerusalemme (twelfth to sixteenth centuries) and at Brazzacco is the Villa di Brazzà of Contessa Savorgnan di Brazzà.

Fagagna is noted for its Corsa degli Asini, or donkey race, held in early September, and for the excellent cheese to which it gives its name. The cheese is available directly from the producers - the town’s two dairies. Nestling in the shadow of its ruined mediaeval castle, Fagagna boasts a number of remarkable monuments, such as the ancient parish church of Santa Maria Assunta and the Renaissance Casa della Comunità, as well as an intriguing museum of rural life (Museo della Vita Contadina) in Cjase Cocel. The ancient building has been restored to recreate the ambiences of country life in days gone by. Outside, there is a broli, or small farm, with mulberry trees, vines and vegetables, which is still tended according to the ancient rhythms of yesteryear’s farmers. A special section is set aside for women’s activities and the exquisite tombolo, or Italian pillow, lace made at Fagagna in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries at the school founded by Contessa Cora Savorgnan di Brazzà. Fagagna lace products vied in sophistication with Burano’s and were even exported to the New World. Also worth a visit is the splendid nearby mediaeval castle of Villalta. Today privately owned, it is one of the most beautiful such edifices in Friuli.

Azienda del Poggio (Villalta di Fagagna)

Festival and events
Corsa degli Asini donkey race - September
Palio dei Borghi race - mid September
Easter re-enactment at Ciconicco di Fagagna - Easter week

Oasi dei Quadris park, with nesting storks.

The castle of Rive d’Arcano is now privately owned but may be observed from outside the grounds. One of the best conserved castles in the region, it was built and extended from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. Other places to visit include the pieve, or parish church, of San Martino (eighth century) and the church of San Mauro (from the twelfth, thirteenth and fifteenth centuries) with contemporary frescoes.


A town with a rich heritage of art, culture and craft traditions, famous for its prosciutto crudo, or air-cured ham. Places to visit: Duomo of San Michele Arcangelo (fourteenth and eighteenth centuries), Biblioteca Guarnieriana library (fifteenth century), church of Madonna della Fratta (fifteenth century) and the
church of Sant’Antonio Abate (fifteenth century) with its superb Renaissance fresco cycle by Pellegrino da San Daniele.

Typical products
Prosciutto di San Daniele air-cured ham

Lake of Ragogna

Festival and events
Aria di Festa air-cured ham fair - June
Mercatino dell’Antiquariato antiques fair - last Sunday of the month

This major economic centre on the Friulian flatlands lies at the heart of the Grave del Friuli DOC wine zone. In the centre, visitors should see the parish church of the Assunta (eighteenth century), one of the most ancient in Friuli, and in the San Martino district, there is a fine collection of fully functioning horse-drawn carriages from all over Europe. These are being transferred to Villa Kechler. A short distance away, at Rivolto, is the airfield of the national display team, the legendary Frecce Tricolori, or Tricolour Arrows, renowned for their spectacular performances at air shows around the globe. The base of the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale, the team’s official name, can be visited during air shows (tel. +39 0432 902166). For further information, visit the website
At Passariano is Villa Manin, a magnificent sixteenth-century Venetian villa that was radically restructured in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It was the last residence in Friuli of the doges of Venice. Severely damaged during the First World War, Villa Manin now belongs, after restoration by the Ente Ville Venete body, to the regional authority of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which has made it the home of the regional cataloguing centre and school of restoration. Its rooms are open to the public. Villa Manin is also a museum, each year hosting major exhibitions organised by the regional authority. Before exploring the interior, visitors should admire the structure as a whole. Unique and imposing, Villa Manin frames, and gives form to, the green of its extensive
lawns by enclosing them in a harmonious arrangement of snow-white outbuildings. The villa was the centre of a vast estate and had to fulfil two main functions, as an economically viable farm and as a setting for ceremonial occasions. The complex layout of the buildings reflects this. The main residential structure comprises a three-floored main building surmounted by a statue-topped attic storey. It is flanked by two lateral barchesse, or service buildings, that extend under airy porticoes around the large lawn. As a counterpoint to this group, there is a large horseshoe-porticoed exedra enclosing a second lawn in front of the villa, in a sort of unexpected, imaginary continuation of the barchesse. The interior of Villa Manin is a succession of frescoed rooms grouped around the great central hall, whose height extends up through all three storeys. The chapel and the stables, where there is a fine collection of old horse-drawn carriages, are also worth a visit. Behind the villa is a splendid, secluded and often unnoticed garden, which may also be visited.

Vigneti Pietro Pittaro

Typical products
Montasio cheese protection consortium

Resurgent springs park

Festivals and events
Mostra Mercato del Montasio cheese fair and Fiera di san Simone market – October
Mostra Mercato dell’Antiquariato antiques market at Villa Manin – spring and winter
Avostanis at Agriturismo Ai Colonos, Villacaccia di Lestizza – August


Ferrin Paolo

Horse riding
Centro Ippico La Quercia (Gorizzo)

Festivals and events
Wine festival - late May

Parish church (eighteenth century). At nearby Sterpo is Villa Colloredo Venier (from the fourteenth, eighteenth and twentieth centuries), incorporating the remains of a fourteenth-century castle.

Festivals and events
Wine festival - March

Places to visit: Parish church of Santi Pietro e Paolo (nineteenth century), with one hundred and thirteen-metre bell tower and gilded wooden altar by Giovanni Martini (1526).

Parish church of San Ulderico and church of San Giovanni dei Battuti (from fourteenth, fifteenth and nineteenth centuries). Villa Lovaria (seventeenth and nineteenth centuries). There are numerous Venetian villas in the surrounding area: at Persereano, Villa Florio (eighteenth century); at Lauzacco, Villa Beretta; at Risano, Villa Pighin (eighteenth century); at Lovaria, Villa Dragoni Giacomelli (fifteenth and eighteenth centuries).

Festivals and events
Sagre dai Pirùs pear fair – August