Palmanova, Aquileia and its surroundings

Palmanova, Aquileia and its surroundings

A triangular stretch of land south of Udine - bounded to the west by the Tagliamento River, and to the east Isonzo, and crossed by other rivers flowing into shallow ones, sandy waters of the Adriatic Sea - does not seem to be a very attractive region for tourists: miles and miles of grain fields, telegraph poles, streams, roads and new towns. And yet this monotonous area hides one of the greatest monuments of early Christianity and one of the most enchanting bathing beaches in Italy., squatted in a lagoon to the south. Without own transport around the region, you travel by bus - they run every hour from Udine to Grado, stopping at Palmanova, at the Cervignano and Aquileia train stations.


Located half an hour by train from Udine, PALMANOVA is a Venetian fortress built in 1593 r. in the form of a nine-pointed star, and symmetrical streets converge on a great hexagonal piazza. You can visit the tunnels in the fortifications with a guide, and then broaden the knowledge of the art of defense at the Museo Civico. Not counting this military curiosity, there's no reason to come to town.


AQUILEIA was founded by the Romans in 181 r. p.n.e., because its location on the eastern edge of the Venetian lowlands - on the banks of a navigable river, a few kilometers from the sea - it was ideal for defense and commercial purposes. The town has become an important trade junction with the north and east, a w 10 r. p.n.e. - when Emperor Augustus received the king of Judea here, Herod the Great - was the capital of the Regio Venetia et Histria and the fourth most important city in Italy, around Rome, Milan and Capua. W 314 r. the famous patriarchy was founded in Aquileia and the first patriarch, Theodora, a great basilica was erected. Looted first in 452 r. by Atylla, and then in 568 r. by the Lombards, Aquileia lost patriarchy to Grado, because their location in the lagoons saved them from invasions. But it regained its primacy in the 11th century. za patriarchy Poppo, who rebuilt the basilica and built a campanile visible from afar. However, regional power passed into the hands of Venice, a w 1751 r. Aquileia had finally lost her patriarchy, this time for Udine. The sea has long receded, and the river Natissa is now a rush-overgrown stream. Dusty Aquileia

- divided by the main road from Udine to Grado - is counting now 3000 residents, but the remains of its ancient splendor make it one of the most important archaeological sites in north-eastern Italy.

Earthquake in 1348 r. partially destroyed the basilica (codz. 8.30-12.00 i 15.00-19.00), but the rebuilt edifice is still magnificent - gothic elements, such as capitals and bows, they harmonize perfectly with the Romanesque ones. The pride of the basilica, however, is the mosaic floor of Theodora, which covers the entire length of the nave like a patterned carpet. Pawiment was only discovered in our century, the mosaics are joyful and cheerful, combining Christian and pagan iconography; e.g.. hard to say, Does a fair-haired angel with a laurel wreath and a fern in his hand represent Pax Romana or the Christian Victoria. Other mosaics from the original Basilica of Theodore, depicting various animals, found around the base of the campanile (access from the basilica). In the 9th-century crypt under the presbytery, there are extremely beautiful frescoes with delicate colors and a distinctly Byzantine form.

A few minutes from the basilica, on the main via Giulia Augusta, is the Museo Archeologico (pn. 9.00-14.00, wt.-pt. 9.00-18.30, sb. i nd. 9.00-13.00 i 15.00-18.30). Items related to all aspects of life during the Roman period are exhibited here, from surgical needles to statues of the gods. In all likelihood, in the first century. neither. a sculpture school flourished here, which would explain the beautiful naturalistic busts, among which is a real masterpiece - the translucent marble head of Livia Augusta.

Paleochristian Museum (pn.-pt. 9.00-14.00, sb. i nd. 9.00-13.00), in the northern part of the city, can only be recommended to people who have an unsatisfied appetite for Roman monuments. The fifteen minute riverside walk to the museum from the basilica is enjoyable though and leads past the former quays of Aquileia; back, however, you can walk along the main street through the forum, to the basilica and the bus stop. To the right, there is a grocery store at the end of the quay, where you can stock up on provisions.

Office AAST, in Piazza Basilica (IV-X 9.00-12.00 i 15.30-18.00), offers city maps and a list of a few accommodation places. The cheapest hotel is Roma, via Roma 28 (• 0431/91008), with twos from 40000 L. Camping Aąuileia, near the Museo Paleocristiano on via Gemina, is a luxurious camping site open from May to September (• 0431/91042); nearby Camping Monastero (0431/91042) it is a bit more modest. Sometimes you can find accommodation in private houses on the road bend behind the campsite.


Some 11 km from Aquileia, among the lagoons at the end of the dyke, lies the ancient spa town of GRADO, through which Aquileia used to trade with Cyprus, Syria, Arabia and Asia Minor. In the small historic center, the 6th century cathedral is the most interesting., with influenced Byzantine capitals and a Venetian silver stake (XIV w.) on the main altar. The neighboring church of Santa Maria delle Grazie also dates from the 6th century.

In fact, however, Grado is a bathing area that stretches east along the shore of a sandy island. The beaches are endless, bathing is as warm and safe as in a bathtub, maybe that's why, that the water is not much deeper - the name of the city comes from the gentle slope of the island's shores. The free beaches are on the west end of the island; for the cupboard, deckchair and showers have to pay a few thousand lire on one of the beaches at Lungomare Adriatico.

Ten buses a day travel from here to Udine (1 at), There is also a bus connection to the Cervignano train station every half hour, on the Venice-Trieste line. However, it is best to come to Grado by boat from Trieste; at Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the small steamer Dionea calls in the morning and evening at the Torpediniere Pier (see "Reference" in the section on Trieste). From Grado, you can take a boat to Barbana Island seven times a day, and on Fridays there is a course to Venice, departure from Molo Torpediniere o 8.00, return twelve hours later. (Details in Adriamare, Carpaccio Square 5).

AAST office in Grado, przy viale Dante Alighieri 68, provides information about hotels in the city, most of which are quite expensive, and you often have to buy full board. Campers are better off here - Camping al Bosco is located on the eastern side of the island (• 0431 /80485), Camping Punta Spin (• 0431 /80732) in Camping Europe (• 0431/80877). Of the many dining options, Trattoria de Toni has the liveliest atmosphere, in Piazza Duca d’Aosta, i Enoteca da Pino, and via Galilei.


A few kilometers west, behind the lagoons, there is the LIGNANO swimming pool, built from scratch. Hemingway used to shoot the ducks on the sandy one, a pine-covered peninsula at the mouth of the Tagliamento, but today only sunbathers come here, especially German tourists. Almost everyone in the summer 100 000 beds are reserved in advance - check availability at the AAST office in via Latisana 42. If you land here for the night, you can console yourself with wine and pastries in the Enoteca-bar Scarpa, alley Marano 9.

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