Friuli Venezia Giulia

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134 travelers at this place:

  • Day122

    Gradisca D'Isonzo, Italy

    October 26, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We'd considered doing the 180km through Italy and Slovenia to Croatia in one day but Vicky had hurt her hip and couldn't drive. We keep off motorways so we get a better impression of the areas we pass through and so it was a long way for one person to drive on local roads. There was the added pressure of acclimatising to the different road signs, speed limits and priorities of three different countries so we decided to do a short hop to near the Slovenian border, ready to cross over to Croatia the next day.

    The Gradisca D'Isonzo stopover comprised of 3 allocated motorhome bays in a car park next to a park and small supermarket. Last night's rain had cleared some of the clouds and allowed patches of blue to peak through, raising the outdoor temperature to 23°C, about 13 degrees warmer than we'd been used to. The windows and skylights flew open as soon as we arrived in order to air the inside of the van that had become rather damp over the last few days.
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  • Day186

    Tarcento, Italy!

    December 29, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 5 °C

    We'd stoped over in Tarcento on our way to Croatia back at the end of October and thought it would be a good familiar place to start our 3 and a half month tour of Italy. It was dark when we pulled in and nearly time to eat so Vicky went about making a pesto sauce while Will popped up the road and bought some delicious little strips of tagliatelle. We thought it was a fitting first meal for this new country!

    Although Poppy's health is a lot better than it was, she still needs to be taken out several times in the night and when Vicky was out with her at 2am she was approached by a young man holding a silver metal stick about the length of a shoe horn. She couldn't see clearly what it was but the man started talking quickly to her in Italian. She picked up something that sounded like 'waiters' or 'police' and 'fast'. She said she didn't understand and he kept talking at her in quite a demanding manner, listing some women's names. She apologised and said again that she didn't understand before walking back to the van to get a bag for Poppy. It had been uncomfortable, but when he followed her it became unnerving. He kept talking and waving the metal stick and when he saw the handbag the poo bags were kept in he said 'bag' and 'everything' at which point Vicky got scared and quickly got in the van, slammed the door and locked it. We didn't see or hear anything further of him and the language barrier meant we couldn't know what he was after, but it made for a sleepless night.

    The next day brought sunshine and good times! We took a walk along the clear river under a blue sky with the sun's warmth bringing out the best in us and the small birds that were chirping merrily in the trees. We even saw the iridescent blue and orange of a kingfisher as it sped along the river channel. A market was on in town and we soaked in the atmosphere before going to a pub for a delicious lunch of a carbonara and a bowl of tripe in tomato sauce with bread, red wine, a quality espresso for Will and complimentary limoncellos. The total cost was only €22 and left us looking forward to many more meals out in Italy!
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  • Day299

    Gradisca d'Isonzo

    April 21, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    After a morning coffee with the Grey Gappers at Camping Village Venezia, we packed up and set off. With Venice ticked off, our Italian to do list this visit was finally complete and today was our last full day in Italy.

    With a new country planned for tomorrow we thought Martha Motorhome deserved a decent wash and so pulled in to one of the many self service petrol station cleaning areas that were big enough for vans.

    Our overnight stop at Gradisco d'Isonzo was only 13km away from the Slovenian border. We'd stayed here previously when we were travelling from Austria to Croatia. It was a car park with three van bays, water and emptying. In front of us was a supermarket and to our right a well maintained park in which we took Poppy for a few short forays.

    It was good to be able to stay somewhere familiar; leaving a country we'd been in for so long brought up some mixed emotions and the prospect of a new country and all the difficulties and delights it would bring were quite enough for us to think about without exploring somewhere new.

    For our last meal, Will cooked his homemade pizza and we opened a bottle of decent quality Chianti Classico; we thought it was only fitting!
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  • Day188

    Tarcento at New Year

    December 31, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    The day of New Year's Eve came about and Vicky found her confidence a little more on the language front. We went shopping and enjoyed interacting with the market stall holders to buy a 3L bottle of red wine (for only €5), fruit, veg and salad. They were very warm towards us (and tolerant of Vicky's emerging Italian). They asked whether we were English and one even shook our hands and wished us Buon Capodanno (Happy New Year).

    After a meal of hot roasted chestnuts and some delicious lemon mini tagliatelle we'd bought at the grocer's earlier that day we put on some semi smart clothes and returned to town with the aim of toasting to the New Year alongside the locals. The streets were quiet apart from some kids randomly setting off small fireworks. There were a couple of restaurants that were full of families but our plan fell flat on its face when we discovered that all but one bar was shut. Looking through the window at the open place,we saw 4 people (including the barman) sitting at a table playing cards. The atmosphere appeared sombre and they didn't look as if they wanted to be disturbed so we wandered back to the van, raided what was left of the drinks cupboard after Christmas and listened to some of Leonard Cohen's last album.

    2017 came about an hour earlier for us than for those in the UK. Local Italians welcomed it in with individual firework displays. We went outside and watched as colours lit up the sky all around and church bells were rung. There was even a small display from the car park of the dports ground we were staying next to!

    New Years Day was marked in the town by a gathering of people in the small market square. Many of them were in various official uniforms and lots of the men wore green felt hats with a crest from front to back and a long feather or two sticking up on one side. Sorry we didn't get a photo! A low key fun fayre was entertaining the kids and families gathered in the few open cafes.

    Before we left we took one last walk along the riverside with the binoculars and new camera. The sky was bright blue and the sun shone warm, although frost pockets and iced puddled persisted in the shade. We really appreciated being able to access the nature around us and felt extremely positive about the year ahead and the new adventures in store.
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  • Day67

    Travelling north -with a southern detour

    August 23, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Had a wonder stay in Ljubljana and heading to Lake Bohinj to the north in the mountains but first detoured south to Kope and quickly into Italy to Trieste. Great to see the blue water of the Adriatic Sea again. Once we left the coast and headed into the mountains the countryside was beautiful.

  • Day191

    Aquileia, Grado and Aquafun

    January 3, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 5 °C

    We were awoken just after 7am by the beeping of our electric system announcing our two 110 volt leisure batteries had no more power to give. We'd stayed 3 days at Tarcento without electric hookup and not driven too far since, so they hadn't fully charged. They'd been drained by having the air blown heating and the lights on nearly 24 hours a day and and charging our phones and laptops didn't help either. The temperature was 4°C outside and would fall rapidly inside as the heating was no longer able to function, so we started the engine, packed up and set off south towards Aquileia and Grado.

    Grado is a coastal town reached via a long causeway. Vicky had read up about its beaches, the islands off its shores and the fishing industry that supplied its seafood feasts. We'd hoped to find somewhere along the way to stop and eat breakfast but the area didn't seem to have any convenient laybys that were big enough for the van.

    As the distance between us and the Dolomites increased the land became exceedingly flat, reminding us a little for Northern Germany. Ploughed fields stretched out either side of the road, interspersed by tightly packed plantations of bare trees that we thought might be a form of flood defence. Crossing the causeway, the disappointingly urban skyline of Grado island grew higher. When we arrived there was no beach in sight, just road, pavement and flats. Space was tight but even if we could have fitted, there were signs saying vans weren't allowed to stop at any time. It didn't take us long to decide we didn't want to stay, even if we could have found a parking spot. On the way out we did catch a glimpse of the brightly painted, traditional looking fishing boats moored either side of a channel, their pots and nets stacked on the harbourside.

    The first town we encountered back on the mainland was Aquileia. Its basilica was highlighted as a sight to see in the Rough Guide book and we planned to visit. Luckily we spotted a camper van parking area so we had breakfast and headed towards the 11th century bell tower that marked the site of the basilica. The ancinent Roman mosaic floor was the main attraction, but as neither of us have a strong interest in historical sites we hadn't got our hopes up. However, our first glimpse of the inside left us awestruck! Beautifully intact and intricate mosaic images spread wall to wall 40m in front of us and stretched 30m accross the width of the building. Huge pillars supported the arched ceiling that was itself decorated with painted tiles displaying geometric patterns. A glass floor had been constructed above the mosaic so you could see every inch without risk of damaging it. Will was particularly fascinated by the geometrical calculations used to create such a vast design using tiles just 1cm sq.

    We gladly paid the €2 fee to enter the small underground crypt and were again left in awe by the wall and ceiling paintings that were nearly 1000 years old! One of the best things about the basilica was that the balance between preserving the ancient artefacts and allowing access had been arranged with care. You could get close enough to the floor and beautifully painted walls to touch them and get a sense of living history. Our experience here more than compensated for the disappointment of Grado and we left in a bit of a daze!

    Our stopover that night was outside an 'Aquafun' outdoor theme park further west along the coast in Lignano Sabbiadoro. We were growing closer to Venice and the area was so urban that despite being only 1km away from the sea, the only glimpse we'd had if it was at the causeway earlier in the day.
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  • Day120

    Tarcento, Italy

    October 24, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Today's journey brought us down from the high altitudes of the Austrian Alps, across the border to Tarcento, a quiet little town in Italy.

    As we had travelled eastwards through Austia, the mountains stayed everpresent but the valley floors transformed from wide flat plains to narrowing channels, that followed the course of a widening river.

    Crossing the border to Italy the roads ceased to travel along the valley floors and clung instead to sheer cliff faces. At times we felt we were in some futuristic sci fi with so many roads balanced on arch topped columns rising from the depths. They criss crossed each other over an impressively vast but almost dry river bed before diving into tunnels through the rock.

    The day had been overcast from the start and as the altitude decreased the temperature rose and clouds became more prevalent, whisping in lines along the craggy hillsides.

    It wasn't just the geography and temperature that changed, the buildings became less opulent and more utilitarian. Wood cladding and many of the murals disappeared and were replaced with plain pastel painted plaster.

    The free stopover at Tarcento was in a small grassy area beside the river. There were mature trees dotted about and we parked under an oak, only to move after a few hours to escape the giant acorns that sporadically fell on the roof with a terrifying bang.

    We enjoyed a morning walk along the riverside, marvelling at how clear the water was. We spied two Dippers bobbing about on rocks and stopped to watch them to see if we could see them swimming underwater, but they were too quick to keep track of once they dived.

    The humidity was very high and water hung in the air, giving the river a hint of mystery as it hung in a white mist over the water. We walked back along a lane where we saw gardens with fig and pomegranate trees, the fruit hanging from the branches.

    We enjoy being able to speak in the language of the country we are in and believe it is courteous to at least try. In preparation for this tour Will improved on the German he already knew and learned a lot more using Duolingo. Therefore, all the time we spent in Germany and Austria, he has been our communicator. Vicky spent 9 months going to evening class and using Duolingo to learn Italian and so the pressure was on!

    We wandered around town and eventually found a friendly looking cafe that we worked up our nerve to go in. Vicky tried her best but she had got herself so wound up worrying about it, half the words that came out of her mouth were in German - the 'go to' foreign language of the last 15 weeks! The waiter was very patient and even spoke back to us in broken German and we managed to get a delicious espresso, two jam tarts and tea (albeit without milk) but for a first attempt it was acceptable.

    Next we headed to the supermarket and marvelled at the mouth watering range of quality cheese, cured ham and olive oil. We were a bit confused when we couldn't find tagliatelle among the pasta, only to discover it had its own separate section further down the aisle.

    The transaction at the supermarket went well and buoyed up from this and (and a normally caffeine free Vicky probably a bit high from the black loose leaf tea) we decided to try a local bar. There were two close by and we chose the one that looked like The Local, where a group of elderly men were leant over a table playing cards and exchanging banter. Vicky managed to order a glass of red and a glass of white without a word of English (or German!) and we were brought a complimentary bowl of herby croutons to munch on. When we came to pay the bill, we had to double check we understood correctly because it came to a grand total of €2! A hard rain had broken out while we were in the bar and didn't relent for the remainder of the evening but it didn't dampen our spirits. We think we are going to like Italy when we return in January!
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  • Day189

    San Daniele del Friuli (Prosciutto town)

    January 1, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 4 °C

    Driving just 20km from Tarcento to San Daniele del Friuli, we felt dwarfed by the craggy Dolomite mountain range that curved around the lowland we were in. The town is famous for producing some of the world's finest prosciutto, thanks to the microclimate of the area. Soon after we arrived at the camper van car park we climbed up the steep streets to the town centre, an enchanting mixture of cobbled streets, archways, small shops, eateries and ornately carved churches that exuded Olde World charm. Being New Years Day, there were groups of motorbikers and the town had a buzz of visitors. We'd arrived after closing time, but shop windows displayed sparkling jewellery, specialist wines, liqueurs and richly wrapped processed foods like apricots in brandy, olives, chocolates and of course prosciutto at the many Prosciutterias that advertised tasting sessions.

    Dusk fell with a gorgeous pink glow that backlit the barren Dolomites we could see out of our window.

    Before leaving the next morning, we visited the part of town lived in and used by the majority of residents. It certainly was an interesting change, with functional concrete flats, tarmacced roads and everyday shops. We decided to get some prosciutto from a shop that sold it alongside some delicious looking cheeses and other bits and bobs. Although the historic centre was beautiful to look at, we want to experience the reality of everyday Italy too!
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  • Day190


    January 2, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    Udine provided yet another free overnight park with water and toilet emptying facilities. We have a lot more freedom in Italy as it doesn't have the same restrictions on sleeping overnight as Austria and Croatia, but all the places we've visited so far have provided free sites so we haven't felt the need to fly camp. We suspect it may be as a result of the New Year holiday but we've seen lots more vans around than we've been used to.

    The stopover was 2 miles out of the city centre and we were glad we walked in because it gave us a chance to experience the difference between the suburbs and the historic old town. If you were to ascribe a colour to the suburbs it would have to be grey. While there were some interesting pieces of architecture, they were somewhat overshadowed by the prevalent graffiti, piles of rubbish and the shabby appearance of many of the flats we passed that had iron bars protecting the windows. It wasn't like this was the picture you took in everywhere you looked and some of the iron bars were ornate, but there was enough of it to give an impression of a run down area.

    In stark contrast to this, we gradually emerged to the resplendent grandeur of Piazza
    della Liberta with its (according to the Rough Guides book) 'classic Venetian architecture'. It was a large open space with columns and arches of a stone brick palace on one side and a covered white stone cloister running along the opposite side. The cloister fronted a beautiful bell tower that displayed a shining golden sun and was topped with bronze statues of men ringing the bell. It was all a far cry from the neglected buildings we'd walked past to get there!

    Behind the bell tower, steep steps took us up the hill to the Castello and its lawn. The Castle itself was large but a bit shabby. What drew our attention more, were the people who'd climbed above the city shade to enjoy the sun on the grassy area. They were sat in a group having a picnic, playing games with a dog or just walking by themselves, taking in the stunning views of the clay rooftops and various towers or domes below.

    Udine also had a duomo (cathedral), a large and attractive but not overstated building. We'd stopped for coffee and tea at a cafe on the way to see it, giving the sun time to sink low and large. It shone amber rays directly on the the cathedral as we approached.
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  • Day299

    Arriverderci Italia!

    April 21, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    After spending nearly 4 months in Italy, we've had so many varied experiences it is impossible to describe the country as a whole. There is such diversity between the regions that is would be misrepresentitive to label them all as one.

    For us, some of Italy's best features are:
    -The delicious food and focus on real flavours (especially limoncello, coffee, icecream, pastries, oranges, seafood, fresh pasta and greens)
    - The warmth and friendliness of the people, particularly those in the south and on Sicily. Many are very proud of the place they live but instead of wanting to keep it all for themselves, they relish sharing it with others.
    -The ability to wild camp wherever you want (although there are fewer laybys than in other countries we've been to).

    Favourite places:
    - Mount Etna on Sicily comes top of Vicky's list:

    - Will best loved snorkelling in the Venus Pool, at the Cape of Milazzo, again on Sicily:

    - Another place that deserves a mention for its beauty and history is the ravineside town of Matera with its Sassi (rock dwellings):

    - Pisa wins the title of our favorite city for its fun, chilled out vibe and of course the tower of towers!

    Some things we are glad to leave behind:

    - The stress of driving! The quality of so many of the road surfaces, the potholes, landslides, overhanging balconies or rocks, narrow streets, double or triple parking, speeding, closed roads with no diversions... suffice to say it tested our metal and that of the van! We had three minor collisions and feel we got off lightly! Cycling opportunities were seriously curtailed. Funnily enough very few Italian drivers get road rage, they seem just to go with the flow. Vicky thinks this has rubbed off on her as she became less stressed as time progressed!

    - The worry of dangerous drinking water. The homes in many poorer areas don't have safe drinking water and we got ill after filling up at Caltanisetta.

    - The litter and grime. Huge amounts of fly tipping and littered streets and countryside. Even when bins are used, some authorities don't empty them frequently enough and so they overflow.

    As one of the larger countries, Vicky made the effort to learn Italian and we have tried to speak it whenever we can. We feel this made a big difference to the way people received us. Italy is a huge place and even spending nearly 4 months here, we didn't manage to visit all the places we wanted to and found we could have spent a lot longer in some locations.

    It hasn't always been easy but overriding the lows there have been some incredible highs. We are already looking forward to returning when we can and would highly recommend it to others!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Friuli Venezia Giulia, Friaul-Venetien, FVG, Friül - Venècia Júlia, Friuli-Venecia Julia, Frioul-Vénétie julienne, 프리울리베네치아줄리아 주, Friuli-Julisch Venetië

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