Favorite Cities

Friuli and Trieste

Fred Plotkin’s book, La Terra Fortunata, is a history of the Friuli region and a love letter to its inhabitants, wine makers and food and restaurant purveyors.

Plotkin exclaims that Friuli is a "a secret treasure waiting to be discovered" and comments that Trieste "overflows with cafes and pastry shops and with them comes the culture of intellectual debate, cabaret, performance art, and spontaneous music making and all night chess matches."

Other writers describe Trieste as an Austrian city inhabited by Italians. Any way you view Trieste, it’s a lively cosmopolitan city.

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Venice, Friuli, Trieste & Slovenia

April 13 - 20 , 2010

Our tour is a capsule look at the region of Friuli, the fourth smallest region of Italy (an area bigger than Delaware, smaller than Connecticut). It is the most northeastern of Italy’s 20 regions, between Venice and Vienna.

The correct name of this region is Friuli-Venezia Giulia, but for reasons of clarity, we will refer to this region, as most Italians do, simply as Friuli. The region is defined by a difficult history. Invaded and ruled by Romans, Huns, Goths, Lombards and the Nazis. Under Austrian domination for centuries, a part of Italy since 1866. Friulianis take their checkered history in stride with a shrug of the shoulders. It has not dulled their lust for life.

The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal

Day 1
Arrive in Venice. Transfer on your own to our hotel just a few minutes from St. Mark’s Square.

Late afternoon private taxi ride down the Grand Canal passing by the fabulous palazzos: Ca Rezzonico Ca d’Oro, Pallazo Barbaro, Palazzo Grassi and more.

Early group dinner.

Day 2
Buffet Breakfast.

Art & Architecture Walking Tour ... St. Mark’s Square, Doges Palace, Frari Church and Scuola Grande di San Rocco with its amazing collection of 66 Tintoretto paintings.

The Doge's Palace

Private tour in the afternoon of Fenice Opera House, recently reopened after a devastating fire in 1996.

Dinner with group not included in tour price.

Day 3
Buffet Breakfast.

Optional Day to do as you wish.  Venice has a rich collection of museums ranging from the Accademia to Peggy Guggenheim Museum to the Doge's Palace. We’ll help you plot your day.

Group dinner included.

Day 4
Morning departure by train for 2-hour ride to Udine in Friuli.

We will be met by our guide and driver, Sonia. She and her husband run a travel agency in Cividale. Sonia is super efficient, young, energetic and the perfect person to introduce us to Friuli and Slovenia.



Guided visit of Udine, charming medieval town in the heart of Friuli with a distinctive Venetian flavor. In 1420, Udine surrendered  to Venice and remained under her influence for three and a half centuries. Its Piazza della Liberta echoes the architecture of Venice with a Palladio-designed passage way that leads to the castle on a hill with views of the Alps. 

We then take a short ride to Aquileia to see its few remaining Roman ruins and its imposing basilica.   The Basilica of Aquileia was first built in 313 AD.  Over the centuries it has been rebuilt five times.  Predominantly Romanesque and Gothic architecture, it has one of the most beautiful and largest mosaic floors in the world. The basilica is a truly unique edifice.

Afternoon: Check into the Astoria Hotel, a 4-star hotel, and our base for the next couple of nights. Travel to the enchanting Spessa castle in the renowned Collio wine country and visit the wine cellars and the beautiful park surrounding the Castle. Cooking lesson with Chef Tonino in the castle kitchen. Preparation of a 3-course menu of regional dishes followed by dinner with wine from the castle estate.

Miramare Castle

Miramare Castle

Day 5
One hour drive to Trieste, the capital of Friuli-Venezia Giulia set between the blue waters of its gulf, the green hills and the white rocks of the Corso plateau. 

Check into our 4-star hotel right in the center of Trieste, and then visit the city’s historic center and the Miramare Castle, the beautiful former home of Maximilian and his wife Charlotte.

Lunch at osmizze (farmhouse restaurant) of simple food, most of it from the farm. The journalist will recount the history of the area; it used to be part of Slovenia and its residents still consider themselves
Slovenians). As we sip the local wine, she will tell stories about the regional cuisine from her four cookbooks.

Ljubjana foodbridge

Day 6
Visit Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, once part of Yugoslavia. Its independence has brought prosperity so what you will see is a surprisingly sophisticated city with cobbled piazzas filled with sidewalk cafes. The city is pretty with footbridges over the river that runs through the center of town.

Lunch on the regional cuisine, including delicious ham. My favorite is game ghoulash with bread dumplings.  Walk through town to visit the food market and cathedral.  Optional visit to castle.


Day 7
We take a half-hour ferry ride to Muggia, one of many coastal towns. Lunch in a local restaurant.

We have the afternoon to wander through Trieste, and stop at one of the many cafes that specialize in coffee concoctions.  Maybe Starbucks got its inspiration for specialty coffee drinks from Trieste.  Trieste coffee culture owes a lot to Illy Coffee.  Francesco Illy, its founder, invented the first automatic espresso coffee machine in 1935.  I particularly liked the caffe shekkerato, iced coffee which tastes so much better when it is shaken with ice and poured from a cocktail shaker.   Or you might want to try a Gociado, caffee espresso with just one drop of milk froth in the middle of the cup.

Day 8
Early morning departure for Mestre, and the bus connection to airport to make your flight home.

$3,250 (USD) includes 7 night hotel (single room without a single supplement), 4 dinners, breakfast every morning, train between Venice and Udine, train from Trieste to Mestre, 3-day vaporetto pass in Venice, all activities as outlined in itinerary. Not included: airfare, airport transfers, bus from Mestre to airport, lunches, café stops, wine and alcoholic beverages, personal expenses.