Udine

Located in the northeast of Italy in the Friuli-Venezia Giula region and capital of historical Friuli, Udine may lack the profile and history of its more illustrious neighbours but compensates with a quaint, tranquil atmosphere conducive to a relaxing holiday.

Evidence suggests the settlement of modern-day Udine was the home of the tribal Celts but, remarkably, the city’s history practically starts in the medieval period. Passed over by the Romans in favour of nearby Aquileia, Udine itself was only founded centuries after the Empire in 983 AD and later notable merely as part of Venetian territory from 1420 until the Venetian Republic’s demise in 1797. Passing to Austrian hands soon after, the city was finally liberated and incorporated into the new Italy in 1866.

Currently the second largest city in the region behind Trieste, Udine continues to expand beyond its old medieval walls. As with its regional counterparts, the city has preserved a strong independent spirit, reflected in the dominant local Friulian dialect. However, this does not detract from its essential beauty and charming provinciality, making Udine an attractive prospect.

Attractions

The cultural centre of Udine is the Piazza della Libert , which houses the Loggia San Giovanni and 15th century Gothic-style Loggia di Lionello town hall as well as the opposing Torre dell’Orologico clock tower. However, Udine also contains pieces designed by the great 16th century Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio in the Piazza, such as the L’Arco Bollani, making it a must-see spot.

Elsewhere, the chief religious building in Udine is the Cathedral of Saint’Odorico. Built between 1236 and 1335, the Cathedral’s baroque interior houses the local museum as well as works of art by local and Venetian artists.

Incorporated within the site is the Church of St. Mary of the Castle. Purportedly the oldest building in Udine, the church traces its lineage as far back as the Lombard era, but has since been renovated, with the façade totally rebuilt after an earthquake in 1511. For religious art though, be sure to check out the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Purit , which contains 18th century frescos by the Grand Manner Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. One further religious point of interest is the Romanesque-styled Chiesa di San Francesco, which plays host to numerous exhibitions.

Overlooking the city is the Castle of Udine, which was built by the Venetians in the 16th century over a pre-existing Lombard fortification and provides some fine vistas.

Udine has a number of other museums and galleries such as Il Museo Friulano di Storia Naturale in the Via Marangoni (specialising in Friuli’s natural history) and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Udine in the p.le Paolo Diacono.

The city also holds a number of annual festivals, including the Friuli D.O.C. Wine and Food Festival in September.

Belying its size, football-mad Udine is well represented by Udinese Calcio, who play their games in Serie A at the Stadio Friuli. Former players include the great Brazilian Zico.

Shopping

The areas around the Piazza della Libert are naturally especially good for local craft shops but, for more high-street fashion, try the Via Mercato Vecchio.

The Piazza Matteotti and the surrounding region are also especially good for shopping.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Famous for its local D.O.C. wines, Udine enjoys a wide selection of places to eat. Highly recommended are Vitello d’Oro in the Via E. Valveson and Ai Frati in the city centre.

Although Udine has a comparatively sleepy nightlife, the few bars and clubs in the city can be found around the Piazza della Libert and the Viale Tricesimo.

Alternatively, you can search out the shows at the Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine in the Via Trento.

Tourist Information

Friuli Regional Tourist OfficePiazza I Maggio, 6/733100UdineTel: +39 (0)432 509 505www.friuliturismo.org/en

Airport

The nearest international airports to Udine are the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Airport near Trieste, some 80 km away, and Venice’s Marco Polo International Airport, 130 km from the city. However, buses, trains and taxis can be used at both airports to cut down the distance to Udine.

International and domestic connecting flights are available to limited destinations in the continent at Friuli-Venezia Giulia Airport, with a better choice at Marco Polo Airport.

All car hire locations in Italy