Borderlands: Friuli and the Alto Adige
September 19 through 27, 2019
This journey takes us to a part of Italy that feels, well, not altogether Italian. Friulian is the preferred language in Friuli, while in the Alto Adige, or, as the locals call it, the Sud Tirol, it's mostly German that one hears in the shops and on the streets. I love Italian history and culture, but I'm also a sucker for the gemütlichkeit coziness of the Tirol as well as the quirkiness of Friuli, with menus listing dishes that even computers can't translate. Jota? Frica? Cjarsons? And why is everyone wearing red-checked shirts? For me, these regions are richly exotic and truly the best of several worlds.
The Itinerary, in brief:
Thursday, September 19: The tour begins when we meet in the afternoon at our hotel in Verona, a city easily accessible by car, train, or plane. Afternoon tour of the historic center, with its palpable aura of medieval pageantry and knighthood. Think Romeo and Juliet. Participants may choose to arrive a day early to take in more of the city: the stunning public gardens, city museum, Roman ruins, and medieval churches. Group dinner.
Friday, September 20: Depart Verona for Trent, a city ruled for centuries by powerful Bishop Princes under the auspices of the Holy Roman Empire. The Council of Trent, which lasted from 1545 to 1563, brought with it a predictable “urban renewal." Today, 16th century palaces grace the piazzas and line even the back streets. The Castello of Buonconsiglio contains a delightful fresco of the months, with a snowball fight in January. One of my favorite frescoes in Italy. We continue on to Bressanone, AKA Brixen, depending on your language, where we spend three nights at the Elephant Hotel, which, if you'll pardon my overuse of hyperbole, is one of my favorite in all of Italy. Group lunch in Trent and dinner at our lovely hotel.
Saturday, September 21: Excursion to Bolzano/Bolzen with its museum of the 5000-year-old Ötzi Man. This “natural mummy” was discovered by hikers in 1991 in the nearby mountains. They took him for a contemporary climber who'd died on the trail. Found completely intact—including his clothing and gear—Ötzi Man has transformed our understanding of early man. Afterward, we take a breathtaking cable car to a mountain village for lunch. Group lunch in the mountains.
Sunday, September 22: Sightseeing in and around Bressanone, an “episcopal” city during the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Bishop’s Palace has a delightful museum of Tirolean arts. Nearby is the ancient abbey of Novacella with an important library and excellent winery. And if you're feeling energetic, you can borrow a bike from the hotel for a ride along mountain streams and through apple orchards. Or you can buy a dirndl! Group chalet lunch.
Monday, September 23: Depart Bressanone for Arte Sella, an environmental sculpture park in the picturesque Val Sugana. Here, artists from throughout the world have created sculptural works from natural materials, and placed then in a spectacular setting. From there we continue on to our villa hotel near Udine. Lunch at a mountain inn; home-cooked dinner at our villa.
Tuesday, September 24: In the morning we visit Udine, where the 18th century artist Giambattista Tiepolo was offered one of his first commissions, in the palace of the Patriarch, and one of his final commissions, in a modest oratorio. In the afternoon we travel to Cividale, with its rich collection of 6th-8th century Longobard architecture and artifacts. Lunch in Udine; dinner at our villa.
Wednesday, September 25: Today we devote ourselves to World War !. While most of us are more familiar with the Western Front, here in Friuli we find stunning monuments as well as remnants of the Eastern Front, where Italy suffered devastating losses to the Austrians. There is a museum of the war in Gorizia, along with remains of trenches. Redipuglia has a stunningly somber ossuary the size of a small mountain, with the bones of far too many soldiers--from as far away as Sicily. Light lunch; dinner at our villa.
Thursday, September 26: Morning visit to Acquileia, a city founded by Romans in the second century BC. The mosaic floor of the cathedral dates to Roman times and is delightful. Continue on, or should I say, back, to "Italy," where we spend our final night in a beautiful villa hotel in Mira. Light lunch; fish dinner in Mira.
Friday, September 27: The tour ends with breakfast. The Venice airport is easily accessible from Mira, as is Venice, for those looking to round out their trip. In nearby Mestre you can catch a fast train to Rome or Milan, or most cities in-between.
In Friuli, we spend three nights at the Villa Tissano, a family-run estate that will give you a very genuine sense of Friuli.
We finish the trip with superior accommodations at the 5-star Villa Franceschi in Mira, near Venice. A Relais Chateau hotel.
$4500 in Double Occupancy
$4850 in Single Occupancy
Included: 8 nights in hotels. breakfast each morning, one or more additional meals each day with wine and coffee, private bus transportation throughout, all entrance fees as described in the itinerary, guide fees, and tips.
Not included: air and airport transportation, unscheduled meals, room service, items of a personal nature.
Group size: a maximum of 12 people