All About Friuli
An Italian lifestyle experience in the "Terra Fortunata" of Friuli. Wine and dine, outdoor adventures and unique cultural experiences in a region blending the culture and history of Italy, Austria and Slovenia.
Join us in the small mountain village of Valbruna for an Italian lifestyle experience. We will discover the nature and history of the Julian Alps surrounding Valbruna, enjoy the food and wines of Friuli, a small region where you go from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea and along the way find mountain lakes, the hills of a renown wine country and historic ancient towns from the Roman and Medieval times.
The village of Valbruna was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until after WWI and assigned to Italy in 1939 and today just a few miles away from the borders with Austria and Slovenia in a territory where the Italian, German and Slavic cultures have been blending for centuries.
Since the 50s Valbruna was a destination for skiing, hiking and climbing; tourists and locals gathered at ‘Pension Keil’, a landmark bar and restaurant located in the heart of Valbruna next to the church.
Udine, the capital of Friuli, is a town with squares of Venetian charm, Tiepolo masterpieces, traditional ‘osterias’ and ancient buildings.
From Piazza Libertà, described as "the most beautiful Venetian square on the mainland", to Piazza Matteotti which, all surrounded by porticos, seems to be an open-air lounge. In the middle of the city rises the hill and atop sits Udine’s castle. From its walls you can see the entire city and a panoramic view of the mountains to the North.
San daniele del friuli
San Daniele, with its endless views over the rolling countryside, is the main town of the Friulian Hills. San Daniele is one of the 'pearls' of Friuli Venezia Giulia, known internationally for its smoked trout and above all for the inimitable taste of the ham it has been producing for centuries.
Thanks to a unique micro-climate, prosciutto from San Daniele is arguably one of the best known hams made anywhere in the world.
cividale del friuli
A wealth of art treasures and a historic town center full of atmosphere and charm. Cividale del Friuli, UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded in 53 BC by Julius Caesar and originally called Forum Iulii, from which the name of the region Friuli is derived.
Modern-day Cividale del Friuli has a number of unique sights, such as the Devil’s Bridge and the Longobard Temple, which is one of the most extraordinary and mysterious works of Early Mediaeval architecture in Western Europe. A wealth of art treasures and a historic town center full of atmosphere and charm.
Tarvisio is one of Friuli Venezia Giulia's most important ski areas and mountain resorts. Surrounded by the Julian Alps and rich in wide valleys and woods - the Tarvisio Forest, with its 24,000 hectares, is Italy's largest State forest - the town has a modern look but also an ancient soul, full of traditions worth discovering.
Aquileia is an ancient Roman port town an hour south of Valbruna, once on the water at the edge of the lagoon and now located about 10 kilometers (6 mi) from the Adriatic Sea. Today, the city is small (about 3,500 inhabitants), but it was large and prominent in antiquity as one of the world's largest cities with a population of 100,000 in the 2nd century AD and is one of the main archeological sites of Northern Italy with its famous Cathedral and the ruins of the seaport.
Things to do in Friuli
The Food and Wine Experience
Friuli is one of Italy's best-kept secrets. As Italy expert Fred Plotkin said in the pages of ‘La Terra Fortunata’, a masterful portrait of its history and cuisine, “Friuli is the region with the most varied and sophisticated food in Italy”.
Food and wine are always a focal point when visiting Italy and every meal can be a celebration of the produce, the site, the people who prepare it and the company with whom we enjoy it! From a local “trattoria” to Alpine huts, from a seafood dinner in the mountains to a Michelin starred dining experience, every meal will be memorable!
We will also visit masterful producers of wine, grappa, vinegar, cheese and prosciutto to learn about their unique products as well as their business inspiration and the traditions and culture behind the magic flavors we will taste!
grappa nonino: the art of distillation
The Nonino family has perfected the art of distillation since 1897 and transformed it from common home-distilled liquor to the internationally sophisticated drink of today.
We will visit the Nonino Distillery and meet the Nonino family, daughters Elisabetta and Antonella and “signora” Giannola who explains the philosophy of the company “…our overriding goal is constant improvement as we strive relentlessly after quality and innovation to make the best grappa in the world, in full respect of the territory and its culture. My story is one of a life lived with passion, determination and the sheer joy of being alive…that in the end enabled us to achieve what in the early 1960s looked impossible: the transformation of Grappa from a Cinderella into the Queen of Spirits!
skiing and ski touring
From the peaks of the "most beautiful mountains in the world" to the great ski areas of the Eastern Alps: the Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia offers several possibilities for skiers and different winter sports enthusiasts in general.
With their peculiar vertical walls, high peaks and deep valleys, the Friulian Dolomites offer landscapes of unique beauty, ideal for organizing an amazing holiday in intimate contact with nature. In winter they become the undisputed realm of winter sports, thanks to modern installations and extensive networks of trails and runs, where it is possible to practice skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice skating, hiking and even dog sledding.
Numerous tourist resorts are located in the area, such as Forni di Sopra, which, at the highest point, reaches more than 6,562 ft above sea level, and Ravascletto, which extends up to Monte Zoncolan. The magnificent Julian Prealps are the setting for other ski districts, for instance that of Tarvisio, located on the frontier between Italy, Austria and Slovenia. This uncontaminated environment, rich in woods and valleys, is a preferred destination for a ski holiday, full of exciting descents and other fun sport activities.
In the heart of the Eastern Alps, on the border between Italy and Slovenia is the cross-border ski pole of Sella Nevea-Bovec, a large area dedicated to skiing that treads beyond national borders. The trails system and the links between the Italian and the Slovenian localities allow all ski lovers to ski in complete freedom, exploring new areas and discovering exciting landscapes.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
We will ride on portions of the Alpe Adria bike path, so named because it starts in the Alps (Alpe) from Salzburg, Austria and ends on the Adriatic Sea (Adria) in the fishing town of Grado, Italy, The bike path was built on the old railroad tracks with soft grades that allow for easy scenic rides. Starting from the Valbruna Inn to the East we will be able to ride into Austria or Slovenia or even into both countries for a half-day 3-country ride. The Westbound ride toward Udine will take us along the most scenic portion of the old 1950s railroad track, over multiple bridges and countless tunnels that made the railroad an engineering masterpiece of its time.
There are many mountain biking trails in the area, with intense climbs as well as moderate rides on service dirt roads like the 6-mile loop in the Valbruna valley for a vigorous yet accessible ride of about 2 hours.
We will visit Mt. Lussari, atop the local ski area in Valbruna. The small village of Lussari surrounds the 650 year-old Sanctuary of Madonna di Lussari. There are many choices for unique hiking adventures right from the village: the summit of Mt. Cacciatori can be reached in less than 2 hours on a trail with short passages of “via ferrata”, a rustic cheese where cheese is made on an open wood fire and smoked in the old hut is a short 1 hour hike away or hiking the old road circling the summit of Mt. Lussari and getting to the top for 360 degrees views is a simple and easy 30 minute walk.
In the woods surrounding Valbruna or in nearby Tarvisio Forest Park you can admire mountain flowers and monumental trees and the rare “abete di risonanza” (resonance Spruce tree) from which string musical instruments are made, or hunt for of the seasonal treasures: wild mushrooms.
We will also hike the “Orrido dello Slizza” gorge, located near Tarvisio, 15 minutes from Valbruna. This 90 minute hike is a scenic gorge that winds its way down to the river over wooden boardwalks and tunnels is surely entertaining and picturesque.
Another remarkable hike is to the “Fontanon di Goriuda” waterfall from which you can enter the mountain for a spelunking experience!
napoleon, wwi, wwii and the cold war
This area was strategic for military and commercial reasons for centuries: an easy transit point in the Alps over a very low point of the continental divide between the Adriatic and Black Seas to access Vienna and Eastern Europe.
We will be guided by a local expert to see the ruins of a fort where Napoleon won a critical battle in 1809 and hike along the trenches, tunnels and reconstructed barracks of the WWI front line between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy located in the Valbruna Valley.
We will learn about the borderline patrolled by the US 10th Mountain Division after WWII and explore the underground forts of the Italian line of defense built during the Cold War.