|This region located
in the northeastern corner of Italy bordering Austria and Slovenia
has changed hands many times over the centuries and Friulian
society is a complex mix of cultures. Half of the population speak
Friulian, a language closely allied to Latin.
During the 18th century, Austro-Hungary commissioned the construction
of a deep-water port at Trieste and so ended Venice’s
long domination of the Adriatic Sea. After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire following World War I, Trieste was ceded to Italy.
The city’s most prominent buildings date from the Hapsburg
era, the most beautiful is the Miramare Castle
which is set amid beautifully landscaped gardens overloooking the
sea, and is open to the public.
On the coast west of Trieste there are several popular beach resorts,
such as Grado. The area inland from Trieste is
known for its Karst landscape and caves. The Grotta
Gigante (Giant Grotto) is listed in the Guinness
Book of Records as the largest accessible cave in the world.
Situated inland are Pordenone and Udine,
agricultural centres on the fertile Friuli plain. Further north
are the foothills of the eastern Dolomites and
the Julian Alps (part of Slovenia), where ski resorts
are now being developed. The road from Udine to Villach in Austria
is an important overland freight route, it winds up the dramatic
valley of the Isonzo, a river rendered an astonishing
shade of blue by minerals leached from the Julian Alps.