Continues from Part I of this article on Friuli Seaside Attractions
Lignano Sabbiadoro: A Truly Great Holiday…
All your dreams come true in this town, flying the “Blue Flag”. There is endless fun to be had, in theme parks, funfairs, and a park zoo. Sailing, windsurfing, horse riding and golf keep sports lovers on their toes and by boat or by bike, you can reach enchanting natural sites.
Ernest Hemingway, who “discovered” these towns at the time of the Great War, famously compared them to Florida. He also visited the resort in 1954, spending much of his time hunting with friends in the nearby marshland. Lignano subsequently became one of the most popular beach resorts in easy reach of Venice.
Perhaps it’s hardly surprising: Lignano is acclaimed for its endless extension of sand and its single minded preoccupation: to give guests a good time. You can find everything you need in Lignano, which has held the prestigious “Blue Flag” European environmental award for some twenty years.
Actually, the name “Lignano” denotes three exciting towns that have grown up around the concept of holidaymaking. There’s Lignano Sabbiadoro, the town with a thousand restaurants, open-air bars, and long strolls through exclusive shopping precincts.
Lignano Pineta, with refined walks and shady gardens that add romance and relaxation to the walk back to the hotels from the beach. Finally, Lignano Riviera is renowned for the festive atmosphere, sports, and entertainment on the beach. And the things to discover, like everywhere else in Friuli Venezia Giulia, are just around the corner. In the space of a single day or even an afternoon you can take a trip inland to alternate the flavor of delicious seafood with the tasty Friuli cuisine. Villages such as Precenicco, Marano Lagunare, Latisana and Palazzolo conceal a wealth of little treasures of art and architecture that amply repay a casual visit. Take a batana – local flat-bottomed boats that are ideal for exploring the lagoon – or hire a bicycle to take a ride along the inviting cycle paths to check out the nature reserve of the Stella delta: the magical light of the lagoon, the ducks, herons and countless other wildfowl will reinforce your impression of being immersed in an authentic natural paradise.
…Fun Seeking and Dream-Catching
The party’s everywhere. But especially in themed amusement parks. Aquasplash, among the top Italian aquatic parks, offers breathtaking water chutes and vast swimming pools. Strabilia is a super funfair studded with lights and an unmissable appointment for thrill-seekers. You’ll only have one problem at the Gommosi and Parco Junior: trying to convince your kids to come with you when it’s time to leave!
When it comes to where to stay, you can choose from a wide range of accommodation in Lignano: large hotels, small family-run B+B, apartments, residential villages and agritourism facilities. The only thing you can be sure of is that the sea and nature are always close at hand in a town that has developed around the concept of tourism. But Lignano isn’t just about chilling out. To maximise the experience you’ll also need to focus on your personal fitness. That’s why sport is one of the top features of the “Lignano vacation formula”.
And sports activities start on the right there on the sand with centres staffed by skilled sailing and windsurf instructors just a short walk from your beach umbrella. Activities also include horse treks – the experience of an early morning ride along the deserted shoreline is absolutely unique. Beach volley games are also on the sports menu. You’ll even get the opportunity to try your hand at golf: the all-year-round Golf Club has some of the most beautiful sea-front fairways in Europe.
Lignano by night is animated by thousands of lights. In the past, there were the big bands with elegant patrons in white dinner jackets; today there’s entertainment wherever you turn: discos, disco-pubs, and fashionable haunts such as the famous Terrazza a Mare. All the fun-seeking and cosmopolitan crowds offer visitors the perfect surroundings to enjoy company and make new friends.
Exploring the water… by bicycle!
Relaxing cycle rides on the back roads that wind through a dense network of rivers and canals, where the sea’s saltwaters mingle with the inland’s freshwaters, are among the many opportunities offered by the Lignano hinterland. Enjoy the magical atmosphere of a perfectly balanced natural environment where the songs of more than one hundred different bird species offer the ideal soundtrack to a day of sunshine and sea. There are two recommended itineraries: from Marano Lagunare to Piancada and from Precenicco to Latisana.
Grado, the sunshine island…
Joined to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, Grado boasts an elegant Venetian historic centre. It is an oasis of relaxation and wellbeing, thanks to its fine spas, its pinewoods caressed by a sea breeze, and its calm, clean waters. And it also offers international events and culinary delights. The Italian poet Biagio Marin wrote about its long istae: the bright summer punctuated with the flight of seagulls, shells and sandy islands. “Grado style” requires an experienced eye and an experienced ear to be fully appreciated. Grado is to all intents and purposes an island, secluded and huddled around its historic town centre with its Venetian elegance. A beach furnished as though it were a high-society lounge, top quality services, painstaking attention to comfort and the safety of your little ones: taking a vacation in Grado evokes the pleasures of the aristocratic Hapsburgs, who came here to take the waters and relax in the marine spa baths since the start of the 19th Century.
The promenade at Grado runs from the lighthouse pier with its spectacular sunset views to the Pineta pine woods district where the deep shade softens the lively seaside life and enhances the overall sensation of relaxation. And the shallow, millpond waters of the sea – always perfectly clean – are a delight for kids, who can bathe in total safety. This is the ideal location for beach volley, sailing, windsurf, basketball and five-a-side football – without even having to leave the beach, thanks to the proximity of a series of modern and unobtrusive sports facilities. The range of accommodation on offer is virtually limitless, from major four-star hotels to small family-run B+B, apartments for rent or agritourism facilities.
…the seaside life in style
The wellness philosophy is the best approximation of the seaside lifestyle at Grado. Wellness, carefully metered physical activity, beauty treatments and mental relaxation are all on offer at the all-new spa baths complex. Recently renovated and equipped with areas dedicated to aesthetic medicine, the Spa centre offers a range of interesting programmes: from thalassotherapy to anti-aging skin treatments.
Windsurfing and top-level sailing with international regattas, water skiing and canoeing are other main entertainment offers to complete a rich range of options for an active seaside holiday. A round of golf on the 18-hole course, with its verdant greens and cool blue waters, is far more than a means of relaxation. It brings a sensation of well-being that has to be experienced at least once to be fully appreciated. In the winter this historic fishing village never fails to surprise.
The colourful to and from of fishing boats measures the passage of time, with the aroma of deliciously cooked fresh fish wafting from the many trattorias and restaurants. Escape here and order a delicious “boreto a la graesana” after a refreshing walk among the circling seagulls on the shoreline, or after a trip to Aquileia, which is at its best in the winter months. The fascination and allure of one of the most remarkable archaeological sites of Italy are sure to find a place in your heart. And there’s no shortage of opportunities for a wonderful weekend. Aquileia is constantly hosting exhibitions and concerts, staged in the magnificent setting of the Basilica cathedral. Visitors from all over the world are drawn by a range of international events. Opportunities for rubbing shoulders with the inquisitive and interesting visitors to the area are provided by the Puppet Festival, one of the most important European events in the field, or LagunaMovies, an international exhibition of cinema, show events, and meetings in the Lagoon area.
A tiny paradise of fauna and flora welcomes visitors arriving to spend a few hours in the Isonzo delta nature reserve. Bicycles are available for hire to allow visitors to explore the fascinating area, or you can choose a pony trek to visit the pastures frequented by wild Camargue horses and wild cattle.
Trieste, a drawing room overlooking the sea
“A trip to the baths”, meaning the beach bathing establishment, is a consolidated tradition in Trieste. And there’s no need to go far, because the Adriatic, glistening with a unique turquoise colour when the Bora wind is blowing, is always just around the corner. At the end of an elegant avenue, at the bend in an historic alley, when departing from a palatial city square, the sea penetrates into the heart of Trieste and brings dynamism and vitality.
In Trieste, after checking out the famous antique shops of the Ghetto or Cavana, specialised in Biedermaier and wartime memorabilia, or after a visit to the Museum of Revoltella, a superb 19th Century villa that has been perfectly preserved with all its furnishings, a healthy swim and walk in the bracing sea air is the most natural thing in the world. From the Pinewood of Barcola to Miramare Trieste, the seafront promenade is uninterrupted. Each architectural detail is in tune with the blue water, just as life is for people in Trieste. The seaside season opens with the first sunshine of March and ends formally at the beginning of November, although in reality it continues all-year-round. The passion and history that ties Trieste to the sea is evident also in the natural marine oasis of Miramare: 121 hectares of coastal land and sea protected and administrated by the World Wildlife Fund.
The Casa Carsica
Just inland from the sea stands a magnificent example of popular architecture in the wild landscape of the Trieste Carso district. The villa is surrounded by the classic courtyard protected from the winter Bora wind by a high wall and the typical farm outbuildings. In the summer the antique building forms the perfect venue for historic plays in costume, exhibitions, literary events and concerts.
Cliffs, Hamlets and Castles
Fairyland castles loom over the sea and trails, like the Rilke Castle, offer stunning views of the white cliffs and the blue sea and sky. Drink Teran wine and learn about ancient customs inland, where enchanting villages are scattered across the rugged, fascinating Carso.
But to get a lasting impression of this unique stretch of coastline you need to visit the castles, a series of historic buildings whose timeless beauty is intrinsically tied to the sea and the wind. The typical itinerary starts from “Miramar” (as it is known locally by the residents of Trieste), standing just a few miles from the city centre: Miramare is an authentic fairyland castle that takes visitors right back to the time of Maximilian of Hapsburg. Whatever the season, the Rilke path will lead you through a landscape of sea, rocks, and sky to the castle of Duino, following the trail of the great Austrian poet who once stayed there. The trail ends at San Giusto, in the heart of the local legacy of memories, where you can observe Trieste from above to gain a fuller understanding of its unique history from the morphological outlines of its districts and its street plan.
In October the city of Trieste is alive with the crowds drawn by the most important regatta of the Mediterranean: the Barcolana. And in the winter the exploration of tiny villages along the coast and in the inland areas offers an endless range of delightful experiences. Stop off in the tiny port of Muggia, at the easternmost extremity of Italy, and pause to enjoy its welcoming trattorias, constantly supplied with delicious freshly caught fish. And just a short distance away you can check out the charming Sistiana inlet, or climb to Monrupino, the Spartan hamlet of the Carso offering a bird’s eye view of the entire territory. Then press on as far as Bagnoli to admire the contrast between the harsh Carso landscape and the perfectly proportioned arches of the aqueduct that once provided water for Trieste in Roman times. Here too visitors will find an inviting ‘locanda’ to welcome them with a range of different flavors: the spicy tastes of Slovenian cuisine, washed down with plenty of Teran dense rich ruby wine with its delicately salty taste that typifies the atmosphere of this harsh and hauntingly beautiful land.
The local accommodation, always welcoming and unforgettable, features a full range offering: four and five-star hotels, charming B&Bs and agritourism establishments.
Agenzia Turismo Friuli Venezia Giulia