by Sara Del Sal
Illustration by Anastasia Bakastikova
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is so rich in diversity that no matter what you are interested in, you will certainly find your place here. Considering food, culture and history, this region has to offer many delicious local products such as raw ham, cheese, oil and honey, more than twenty varieties of wines, an architectural and artistic heritage that goes back to the Romans and a natural landscape that includes mountains, hills, highlands and coasts. In less than 8000 km2, Friuli has it all, and if you don’t know where to start, we are happy to help you out.
Autumn is a great time to discover the region: the stressful summer heat is gone, leaving space to the sweet smells of pumpkin spice and mulled wine; grapes are turning into unique wines and leaves are getting the typical orange and red colors. The magical atmosphere of fall gives everyday places a particular shine and allows you to taste unusual and sometimes unfamiliar flavors.
Festivals, cultural events and local activities are the best way to get in touch with the territory and its people and this season has a great deal of them to offer.
Here’s a few of our favourites:
Sapori del Carso – Okusi Krasa
14 October – 12 November
An event that has been running for twenty years, which puts together Slovenian restaurant owners, producers, artisans and traders of food and wine sectors based in the counties of Trieste and Gorizia. The event focuses on preserving the heritage of Carso, spacing from culinary recipes and wine production to the history of the area. The 2023 edition’s focal point will be reusing and recycling during the cooking process, preferring seasonal and bio products, in order to keep alive and rich the biodiversity that characterize the territory. Sustainability and reducing waste production become the essential goal, while keeping an eye on traditional flavours and introducing creativity and innovation in the cuisine. On the official website you can find the list of the participants, their menu offers and the costs.
This is the perfect chance to get close to traditional specialites and steal some grandmas’ secret recipes: don’t miss this great opportunity!
Pumpkin Festival of Venzone
4th weekend of October
Venzone is a picturesque town located on the east bank of Taglimento river, on the ancient way that led to the Alps. Nowadays it is still possible to spot the presence of many populations and influences, such as Celts and Romans, that conquered and lived in the fortified village.
Venzone is a theatre of a large number of events every year and the most famous is certainly the Festa della Zucca, the Pumpkin Festival: two full days where the orange vegetable (or better fruit) is the undisputed protagonist and you can experience how it was to live back in the Middle Ages.
Medieval music and dances, jugglers and fire-eaters, knights and merchants crowd together along the streets of the walled town; kids decorate pumpkins, street artists swallow swords, arts and crafts’exhibitions and stands where you can taste pumpkin dishes, cakes and medieval wines colonize every courtyard of the hamlet. The festival is as thrilling as it sounds!
Venzone is easily reachable by train and by bus from Trieste, Udine or any main town in Friuli.
Castagne e Ribolla
From the 1st of November
Besides pumpkin, chestnuts are the quintessential flavor of autumn, and in Friuli-Venezia Giulia there is no chestnut without Ribolla wine. Ribolla is a very young variety, that wine makers used to drink just after the harvest was finished. Tradition goes that during autumn, the wind Bora was blowing so harshly to stop fermentation until spring time. Winemakers used to accelerate the fermentation with the usage of the pomace and indeed the name ribolla comes from the verb ribollire, to boil. Nowadays, the double fermentation is not practiced anymore and Ribolla wine is a partially fermented sparkling wine, with a low content of alcohol. It is a fresh wine that needs to be consumed within a short period of time: traditionally it was sold during the last days of October and it was a custom to drink it on All Saints Day.
You might have heard of Ribolla Gialla, which comes from the same grape but has time to ferment and to age, however this is something different. Ribolla is a ripe wine with a fruity bouquet and an aromatic aroma, but more than that, Ribolla, together with chestnuts, are a praise to the past and to the land, to the seasonal products and to the profession of winemakers.
These events take place in the main square of most villages and towns of the region, during the last weeks of October and the whole month of November.
Keep tradition alive and taste an autumn specialty of Friuli!
Thanks to its privileged location, this region is a crossroad of cultures, flavors and traditions and whether you are a food enthusiast or someone that appreciates history and tasty wine, Friuli will leave a mark on your senses.