A Week in Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Stepping off the train in Udine, I was immediately struck by the stunning landscape of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Rolling hills, vineyards, and fields of wildflowers surrounded me, offering an enchanting charm that was markedly different from other regions in Italy.
As a passionate foodie, I was excited to discover the unique and flavorful cuisine of this hidden gem of a region, which is often overlooked by tourists.
The dishes in Friuli-Venezia Giulia are a true celebration of local ingredients and regional influences from neighboring Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia.
What hooked me immediately was frico, a savory cheese and potato pancake that is crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. The combination of tangy locally sourced montasio cheese and savory potatoes is simply divine, and a testament to the hearty nature of this northern Italian region that rests up along the borders of Austria and Slovenia.
Speaking of cheesy goodness, lets talk in mroe detail about some of cheese that Friuli-Venezia Giulia is known for:
The production of cheese in this region is not only a labor of love, with many of the processes still being doine by hand, but a historic practie often passed down through generations. The milk used in the production is sourced from local cows, sheep, and goats, and is carefully curated to ensure the best quality possible. The cheese is then aged for varying lengths of time, which gives each one its unique flavor and texture.
As mentioned with the frico, one of the most popular cheeses in the region is montasio. This semi-hard cheese is made from cow's milk and has a nutty, earthy flavor. Its texture is firm and slightly crumbly, making it perfect for grating over pasta dishes or pairing with a bold red wine. Another popular cheese in the region is latteria di giais, a soft and creamy cheese that is also made from cow's milk. This cheese has a mild and buttery flavor, with a smooth and velvety texture that melts in your mouth. It is often used in dishes like risotto or paired with a crisp, fruit forward white wine. The scent of this cheese is delicate, with a subtle hint of sweetness.
The local cured meats in Friuli-Venezia Giulia are also not to be missed. Prosciutto di San Daniele and salame di Sauris are two of my favorites, with their intense flavors and melt-in-your-mouth texture. I paired these delicacies with a glass of the region's signature wine, Tocai Friulano. This full-bodied white wine had a complex character and a deep golden hue that was a perfect match for the bold flavors of the cured treats.
Where to Go
Aside from the cuisine, the culture and history of Friuli-Venezia Giulia are equally captivating. I explored the charming town of Cividale del Friuli, founded by Julius Caesar and later a seat of Lombard power. The town's stunning Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta is a masterpiece of Italian architecture, with its intricate frescoes and mosaics that transported me back in time.
My visit to the medieval castle of Udine was equally fascinating, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. I couldn't help but be struck by the rich history and culture of this region, which had been shaped by centuries of political and cultural influences from neighboring countries. A but further north, tucked away in the corner of the region near Austria you will find Tarvisio, with its picturesque castles and rolling green hills.
But a trip to Friuli-Venezia Giulia wouldn't be complete without a visit to the regions capital, Trieste. This waterfront port city sits as far east as you can get in Italy, located just an hours drive from Ljubljana, Slovenia. There is no city quite like Trieste anywhere else in Italy. Its strong Austro-Hungarian influences from neighboring countries has had a profound effect on its architecture and cuisine, and walking through its historic medieval streets invoked in me a sense of wonder.