Thursday we drove the 20 minutes to Udine to meet up with Susan from Colorado who had arrived yesterday. Susan and I have known each other online for years through the SlowTrav website and shared occupations in Early Education and passion for travel. We last saw each other several years ago, so it was a treat to meet up again!
Udine has a lovely historic core once you drive through the modern outskirts. Porticoed buildings, several charming piazzas, interesting churches and museums.
We began in the magnificent Duomo, originally Romanesque but considerably enlanged and altered during the Baroque period. There are several Tiepolos inside, a Pellegrino, frescoes covering the walls and ceilings so that you need to walk slowly to focus on what is in front of you to not be overwhelmed by the swirling colors and figures of the whole.
Then to the interesting little Baptistry, ( Museo del Duomo) with some 14th century frescoes, a beautifully carved stone reliquary, and some 15th century paintings on wood.
We walked the short distance to the Museo Diocesano and Gallerie del Tiepolo. This 18th century building has large Tiepolo frescoes illustrating stories from the Bible, several other rooms including a beautiful library. Downstairs is a collection of medieval wood statues that were taken from churches in Friuli for safekeeping after the 76 earthquake, and a case of fascinating ex-votoes. We were befriended by the museum’s guard, who was only too delighted to show us around. The place was otherwise empty, not even the ever-present school groups here.
The Piazza Liberta has a gorgeous clock tower. We admired Palladio’s arch leading to the steep stairs going up to the Castello. Due to my knee we didn’t hike up there, I bet Susan will do so during her stay.
For lunch, we followed Shannon’s excellent advice and ate at Enoteca Giardinetto, a wine bar with very good food. And in contrast to many of Friuli restaurant menus, plenty of options that weren’t meat-centric. We shared a nice salad of warm octopus and potatoes, then Susan and I had different pastas, (Mine was homemade gnocchi made from purple potatoes, with shrimp and sauced with zucchini puree) and Larry had a special of grilled tuna.
We followed that with a stop at the best gelateria we’d yet found in Friuli, Oggi Gelato for some tiny cups of great gelato.
After lunch we walked back to Susan’s hotel, first going into the Museo Ethnografico del Friuli. I loved this little place, with carefully curated rooms of artifacts from traditional Friuli homes, work, and life. Again, we were coached by a friendly guard who was very knowledgeable about the collection. Gorgeously carved wooden furniture, more ex-votos, textiles, toys, cooking implements, tools, all sorts of things.
We said our goodbyes, and Larry and I headed for home. For dinner, we ate at the neighboring agriturismo restaurant Solder. Eating outside at a picnic table with glasses of their wine and simple, homestyle food to share. We were amused that at 10 pm cars and motorinos zoomed up the driveway–the area young men coming up not for an evening’s beer–but for glasses of bollocini (young local bubbly wine).
Back to the USA in the morning, with a bit of a snafu due to our flight being cancelled, and no notification that we’d been rerouted until we barely had time to zoom to Venice for the flight. We enjoyed laid-back Friuli, and wished we had a few more days to explore. Udine deserves more than a day. We never even got to Trieste, or into the Carnia mountains, Palmanova, or over to San Daniele. We’re home now with a case of Friuli wines, mostly whites but a few bottles pignolo, a rich red we liked a lot.