A Weekend In Udine’s Historical City Center

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Photo credits M Zambelli
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by Althea Mallee

Udine, often an overlooked Italian holiday destination, is a must see on any traveler’s itinerary list. Nestled between the sea and mountains it is blessed with a rich cultural heritage. Only kilometres away from its neighbours Austria, Croatia and Slovenia, Udine is a melting pot of vastly differing cultures. Generally, a city with a slow-paced atmosphere, after a weekend visiting the city’s historical center you will be left feeling fulfilled and enriched.  

As the gastronomical and spiritual capital of Friuli Venezia Guilia, Udine prides itself on its historical flair of medieval and restored architecture. Surviving many wars and an earthquake in 1511 and 1976, the city has retained and restored much of its heritage and Venetian influence. In the principal square of Piazza della Libertà, an architectural ensemble of Venetian arches, Grecian statues and Roman columns awaits. This is truly considered the crown jewel of Udine. The prominent attractions include the town hall, Loggia Del Lionello, in a Ventian-Gothic style, and opposite the blue and gold clock tower, Torre dell’Orologio, constructed in the likeness of, Piazza San Marco at Venice.

Take a stroll up a nearby cobbled path and shortly you’ll arrive at the emblematic landmark, Il Castello di Udine (the Castle of Udine). Once the seat of the patriarch of Aquileia and the Venetian Lieutenant of the Patria del Friuli, today Il Castello di Udine is a revived museum that all can appreciate. The castle consists of three floors that hold four museums and an additional two that can be viewed by appointment. The views from the lawned area are spectacular and really put the city into perspective. With its beautiful scenery it is an ideal meeting spot for couples to enjoy a romantic picnic. 

Casa Cavazzini

After journeying though the castle it’s time to visit Casa Cavazzini the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art). From optical illusions, sculptural pieces and 14th century restorations of fresco walls, Casa Cavazzini is an eclectic feast for the senses. The first and second levels consist of the permanent collections, many by prominent American artists. During the 18th of February to the 16th of July 2023, Casa Cavazzini will host the intriguing exhibition “Insieme” (Together). Some of the biggest names in art like Gauguin, Van Gogh, Munch, Schiele, Klimt, Modigliani, De Chirico, Picasso, de Lempicka, Chagall and Kandinsky will be on display. Seriously not to be missed!

Udine is swimming with religious historical reverence and the cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata and the oratory of Purità are not short of this magnificence. 150 metres from  Piazza della Libertà, the church makes up for its relatively plain looking medieval façade with its internal dazzling display of baroque decoration and marble sculptures. Next door stands the oratory of Purità, considered to be the best monument to see in all of Udine. An intimate oratory with a dramatic ceiling painting of the Assumption by Giambattista Teipolo.Artworks of a glowing Madonna and mischievous cherubs that render you speechless. This is of the most important works in Udine.

The historical and artistic nature of Udine makes it one special hidden gem inside Friuli Venezia Guilia. Around each corner there is square with an abundantly rich culture and enriching view. Whilst enjoying all the sites take some time to relax, have a coffee, watch all the beautiful people pass you by, and revel in the of art of Italian local living.

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Fate recently swept Althea off her feet from the raw lands of Australia and into the romantic arms of Udine. Her and her Italian husband held their official wedding ceremony at the Grotta di Villanova, which became a first for Friuli. She is a visionary artist and studied a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) in Australia with a major in painting and a minor in English. Her enigmatic and intricate paintings encapsulate her joys for the arts, travel, culture and spirituality and can be found in private collections, galleries and restaurant walls worldwide. As a yoga instructor and massage therapist, wellness and living a harmonious life is of most importance. In nature she finds her solace and she is a great lover of the sea. Surfing holds a unique place in her heart, and you can find her chasing her bliss on waves around the globe and even, to many locals surprise, this also includes Friuli Venezia Guilia! Settled now in Udine she relishes in its rich history and outstanding landscapes and is happy to call this unique part of the world home. To view Althea’s art please visit Instagram @spectrum.portal.art

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