A Weekend Guide To Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia (2024)

A Weekend Guide To Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia (1)

At once stubbornly Italian yet entirely unique, Udine is one of the largest cities in the north-eastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. As a result, the city is often celebrated as the heart of Friulian culture. Udine is just a 40-minute drive from the Adriatic Sea, set against the striking backdrop of crisp mountains. Its peculiar geographical position sets it apart from other cities.

Mere kilometers from Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia—not to mention, the Veneto region—Friuli is a tapestry woven from the threads of these vastly different cultures which culminate on the streets of Udine in a celebration of Friulianism. Udine finds the perfect balance between tradition and vibrancy. And its bars and cafés are always gently buzzing with the hum of conversation. The coffee here is savored, and aperitivi, like family lunches, are lengthy. The pace of life may be slow, but there is more to Udine beneath its placid surface than meets the eye.

For a truly authentic taste of life in northern Italy, Udine should be your next port of call. One weekend here is all it’ll take for you to fall hard and fast for its friendly people, comforting cuisine, and breathtaking nature. From wood-clad osterie and candlelit bars to artisan boutiques and elegant architecture. Read on to discover how to spend a weekend in Udine.

A Weekend Guide To Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia (2)
A Weekend Guide To Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia (3)


Check into a Local Bed & Breakfast

To truly immerse yourself into Udine life, there is no better place to stay than the Mercatovecchio Luxury Suites. This elegant bed and breakfast stands proudly in the very center of the city. Udine is home to the region’s celebrated Far East Film Festival, as well as its proudly independent Visionario Cinema. Therefore, it is little wonder that each suite is named after a different cinematic masterpiece. Whether you opt for the ornate decor of their Casablanca Suite or the bright, quirky style of the Gorky Park Suite, you are guaranteed a beautiful ambiance—both inside and out.

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Start with a Neapolitan Pizza at Fratelli Panza

There’s nothing better than a soft, doughy pizza to mark your arrival in any Italian city. The best pizzeria in Udine is undoubtedly Fratelli Panza. Its convivial atmosphere is second only to the flawless quality of its pizzas. You can sit at one of their many outdoor tables, beneath the graceful porticoes of the town hall, or choose to hide out in their warmly-lit dining room. Either way, an evening at Fratelli Panza is the perfect introduction to Udine.

Head Back to the 1950s with Jazz Night at Caffè Caucigh

One of Udine’s most characteristic and historic hangouts, Caffè Caucigh is the city’s home of jazz music. Every Friday night, locals and visitors of all ages flock to its gold-detailed, dark-wood interior to enjoy a free performance from local musicians. With bronze-framed vintage posters, round wooden tables speckled across a marble floor, and an L-shaped glass counter that sweeps the room, you easily feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1950s. Order a glass of whiskey or a house red and settle in until the early hours.

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Coffee and Croissants at Caffè Beltrame

Ask any local Udinese where to find the best coffee and pastries, and you’ll likely be directed to Caffè Beltrame. This pint-sized café sits just across the square from the delicious Fratelli Panza. Beltrame is known city-wide for its unbeatable flaky croissants and creamy cappuccinos. Pull up a chair at one of their outdoor tables in the square, or perch at a window seat as you watch the slow-moving stream of local life flow past you.

Stroll through Piazza Libertà and Via Mercatovecchio

Arguably Udine’s most iconic landmark, Piazza Libertà is the city’s oldest square dating back to the 15th century. A place where varied architectural styles meet in harmony, the piazza is a true testament to the city’s melting-pot culture. Perhaps most striking is the Venetian-style Loggia di San Giovanni. Its white and blue bell tower is inspired by the tower in Piazza San Marco. Directly opposite lies the elegant pink and white marble Loggia del Lionello, Udine’s town hall. The loggia features tall marble pillars that perfectly frame the bright square surrounding them.

Via Mercatovecchio is bookended by this square and links Piazza Libertà to the more modest Piazza Marconi. Hugging the base of the city’s imposing castle, this pedestrian street is decorated with bars and shops with tables that spill out into the wide, cobbled avenue. On the weekends, students and young professionals flock to Via Mercatovecchio for drinks until late.

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Try the Sandwiches at Poco di Buono

Tucked off the beaten path, Poco di Buono is an unexpectedly quaint spot to grab a quick lunch. While its front door can be found in Piazzetta Cristoforo, the café’s outdoor area is located beside the gently-rushing canal in Via Molin Nascosto (or “hidden mill street”). Order a toasted sandwich with a Spritz, and enjoy the view of the canal.

Browse the Artisan Wares of Opificio Harold Maude

Nothing is more important in Italy than upholding traditions and artisan practices. That’s why creators like Elisabetta, who runs and owns the boutique Opificio Harold Maude, are essential to life in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Elisbetta’s compact store is a treasure trove, where every corner and surface shimmers with promise and history. A collection that unites both the refined and the eclectic, Elisabetta’s wares are all crafted by hand. Created either by herself or by local artists and artisans and often made using repurposed vintage goods.

Whether you’re searching for a unique gift for a loved one, or simply browsing for a keepsake, make sure to spend an hour (or more) in Opificio Harold Maude. Most importantly, be sure to ask Elisabetta for the story behind each and every object.

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Aperitivo with the Locals at Pieri Mortadele

They say you haven’t really graduated from the University of Udine if you haven’t celebrated your festa di laurea (graduation party) at Pieri Mortadele. With a grounded yet energetic soul that encompasses Friulian tradition, this osteria is something of a Tardis. As you step inside, the bar appears compact and homely. However, a small archway on the back wall reveals a large, wooden-clad room, perfect for parties, events, and everyday aperitivi.

As proudly implied by Pieri Mortadele’s all-pink décor and fun branding style, this osteria specializes in prosciutto dishes sourced from some of the region’s most celebrated prosciutterie. Large groups should order a charcuterie board, adorned also with artisan bread and cheeses. If you’re stopping for a quick aperitivo, be sure to order their flavorful crostini.

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Traditional Friulian Dinner at Osteria alla Ghiacciaia

Italy takes the gold when it comes to the world’s most beloved cuisine. But, most never look beyond pizza, pasta, and gelato. Friulian food, like every other aspect of the region, is entirely unique, drawing inspiration from neighboring regions and countries. The result? A hearty, homely cuisine crafted using fresh, local ingredients and produce.

There are a number of places in Udine’s center that offer wonderfully authentic Friulian food. But none come close to Osteria alla Ghiacciaia. This restaurant is as picturesque as it is delicious, and is known for its unbeatable dining set-up. With a wooden balcony overhanging the canal, this spot is framed by softly bowing willow trees. Be sure to reserve a table outside and try frico, a local delicacy that resembles a cheesy potato pancake, or a creamy risotto alla zucca.

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Enjoy a Nightcap at co*cktail Bar Gatti e Re

Udine may be teeming with pint-sized, traditional bars and osterie, but it also knows how to do fancy. If you’re pining for a pinch of sophistication, take a nightcap at the sleek, modern co*cktail bar Gatti e Re. With an interior reminiscent of the youthful haunts of London and New York, this hidden gem is one of the best places in the city to sample a range of co*cktails—from the classic to more innovative tipples.

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Refreshing Morning Walk up to Castello di Udine

Friulians are known across Italy for their drinking abilities, so chances are your Saturday night got a little boozy. The perfect remedy to blow those cobwebs away is a refreshing walk up to Castello di Udine on Sunday morning. Enter via the grand archway in Piazza Libertà and follow the sweeping pathway up to the Piazzale del Castello. On a clear day, you’ll be regaled with uninterrupted views of the Dolomites, so close they feel almost painted onto the sky.

Begin your descent towards Piazza 1 Maggio by following the leafy footpath tucked behind the chapel. If you’re lucky, you may just stumble across the scattered stalls of the antique market, which takes place on the third Sunday of each month.

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Enjoy a Hearty Lunch at Trattoria Antica Maddalena

Il pranzo della domenica, or Sunday lunch, is sacred in Italy—and in Udine, it is no different. One of the best spots in the city to savor this tradition is Trattoria Antica Maddalena: a restaurant tucked into the warren of streets behind Piazza San Giacomo. Whether you’re craving local Friulian cuisine or hankering for a generous bowl of pasta, its warm atmosphere and mouth-watering dishes are sure to hit the spot. The menu changes monthly to reflect the flavors of seasonal ingredients, so each visit is a new experience.

Time for one last Coffee in Piazza San Giacomo

Before you bid adieu to your weekend in Udine, find time for one last afternoon coffee. Framed on all sides by pastel houses that are slightly wonky but endlessly charming, Piazza Matteotti (or Piazza San Giacomo, as it’s locally known) encompasses la dolce vita in its entirety. Pigeons flutter through the sky, chased by playful dogs; children splash in the stone fountain as parents catch up with passing neighbors; the tinkling of coffee cups forms the soundtrack to what is an undeniably idyllic scene. It doesn’t matter which of the numerous cafés you choose to sit at—here, bad coffees are few and far between.

There is no better way to wrap up your weekend in Udine.

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See More: Friuli-Venezia Giulia Travel Guide

A Weekend Guide To Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia (2024)


A Weekend Guide To Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia? ›

Udine is a spot worth considering if you want to be close enough to a lot of sites (Venice, Padua, Verona) but off the beaten tourist track socializing with the real people of Italy. Enjoy! Just back from a quick visit to Northern Italy and Slovenia.

Is Udine, Italy worth visiting? ›

Udine is a spot worth considering if you want to be close enough to a lot of sites (Venice, Padua, Verona) but off the beaten tourist track socializing with the real people of Italy. Enjoy! Just back from a quick visit to Northern Italy and Slovenia.

What are people from Friuli-Venezia Giulia called? ›

Friulians, also called Friulans or Furlans (Friulian: Furlans, Italian: Friulani), are an ethnolinguistic minority living primarily in Italy, with a significant diaspora community. Friulians. Furlans.

Why visit Friuli-Venezia Giulia? ›

A splendid region on the border with Austria and Slovenia, Friuli is the perfect destination not only for trips to discover the sea, history and cuisine, but also to rediscover a deep connection with the land and nature thanks to an almost endless list of wonderful parks, lagoons, nature reserves and mountains.

Why is Udine famous? ›

Udine is known for its Venetian charm, ancient buildings and beautiful piazzas such as Piazza Libertà, called “the most beautiful Venetian square on the mainland” and Piazza Matteotti , which is surrounded by building with amazing archways and looks like an open-air living room.

How far is it from Venice to Udine? ›

How far is it from Venice to Udine? The distance between Venice and Udine is 135 km. The road distance is 127.8 km.

What is the number 1 tourist spot in Italy? ›

1. Colosseum. For travelers making their way through Italy, the Colosseum is a must see. This huge Amphitheater is the largest of its kind ever built by the Roman Empire and has remained a model for sports facilities right up to modern times.

What language is spoken in Friuli-Venezia Giulia? ›

Friulian and Venetian are more common in the countryside, while standard Italian is the predominant language in the larger towns (Udine, Pordenone, Gorizia). The region is also home to Italy's Slovene-speaking minority.

What does Friuli mean? ›

Friuli in British English

(Italian friˈuːli ) noun. a historic region of SW Europe, between the Carnic Alps and the Gulf of Venice: the W part ( Venetian Friuli) was ceded by Austria to Italy in 1866 and Eastern Friuli in 1919; in 1947 Eastern Friuli (except Gorizia) was ceded to Yugoslavia.

What is a fun fact about Friuli-Venezia Giulia? ›

FUN FACTS. The name Friuli Venezia Giulia is historic- from its ancient Roman origins as Forum Iulii as well as honoring both Venice and Julius Caesar. A region of polyglots where languages spoken include Italian, Friulano, Slovenian, and some Germanic languages.

What is the culture of Friuli-Venezia Giulia? ›

Situated in the northeast of Italy, with its wide variety of landscapes, Friuli-Venezia Giulia feels as much Slavic and Austrian as it does Italian. In fact, Friulian culture is surely more Central European than Mediterranean as it is a true crossroads of civilizations.

Is English spoken in Trieste? ›

Italian is the official language, but Trieste's multicultural history means many locals also speak Slovenian or German. Even though English is widely spoken in tourist areas, learning a few basic Italian phrases can enhance your travel experience and locals will appreciate the effort.

What does Udine mean in Italian? ›

(Italian ˈuːdine ) noun. a city in NE Italy, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia region: partially damaged in an earthquake in 1976.

What is Udine traditional food? ›

The food is totally traditional – frico (fried cheese), salami cooked with vinegar and brovada (fermented greens, similar to sauerkraut) and delicate cjarsons (sweet/savoury stuffed pasta).

What are some fun facts about Udine? ›

Udine has been the chief city of Friuli since the 15th cent. It passed to Venice in 1420 and to Austria in 1797 and 1814, and it was annexed by Italy in 1866. In World War I the city was the headquarters of the Italian army (1915–17) and was occupied by Austria (1917–18).

What is the most walkable town in Italy? ›

"Topping the list is Florence, Italy — a city that offers Renaissance history and timeless architecture with each step," the findings shared. "Florence's walkability seeps through in its historic center, where narrow lanes lead to landmarks like the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio."

Is Udine in the Dolomites? ›

Dolomites Location

They lie in the most northern regions of Italy, Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige, and Friuli Venezia Giulia. The Dolomites are part of the provinces of Belluno, Bolzano, Trento, Udine, and Pordenone.

Is Puglia Italy worth seeing? ›

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most iconic sites in Southern Italy, the town is worthy of a stop when you visit Puglia. The recognition is for the unique homes of the city, called trulli, which are conical shaped and have symbols painted on the roofs to bring luck to the inhabitants.

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