Monday, November 20, 2006

Quality time with the relos

My family come the region of Italy known as Friuli-Veneza-Giulia. It borders Austria & Slovenia. It's mainly an agricultural area, growing wine & fruits. The region has its own language (Frulan).

A lot of my extended family are still there so I take the opportunity to visit them as often as I can. I was looking forward to this visit as it would give me an opportunity to put my feet up & take it easy for a little while. So that was the plan. My relative, however, had other plans !!

In the short 1½ weeks I was there, I ended up travelling the length & breath of the region (so much for the quiet time I was looking forward to !!). The highlights included:

A degustation of Prosciutto di San Danielle, in the town of San Danielle del Friuli, complete with grissini & a glass of the local red – simple but so very tasty !!

A drive around Friuli, following the Prosciutto trail to the castles of the region (including Rive de Cannon, Fagana, Ville Alta, Mazurro, Susans & the Austro-Hungarian/WWI era fortress at the strategic point of Osoppo: over looking the Tagliamento river & the mountain pass, at Gemona, to Austria)

A day trip to Venice to go shopping for Carnevale masks, hand-crafted diaries & a piece of a Veneto dessert called “Pinza”. We took the car into the city. In trying to get to a car park, we ended up on the road heading out again...which then resulted in us taking the autostrada heading to Padova, taking the Mestre turn off & then back to Venice. We didn’t make the mistake the 2nd time !! I have to say that St. Mark’s Cathedral is looking slightly worse for wear than what I remember from the last time. Thankfully, there wasn’t any of the high water this time

A visit to the town of Aquileia: once, one the most important sea ports of the Roman Empire; sacked by Attila the Hun & then left for ruin. Today, you can wander through what is left of the port & the canal leading to the sea (the river has long since silted over); parts of the Forum & some of the old Roman road leading out of the city. The highlight is the Cathedral, housing an amazing & wonderfully beautiful mosaic floor (dated around 500AD). The scenes depicted are mainly of food (as far as this trip goes, surprise surprise !!!).

A day trip up through the Alps to Austria; to the town of Klagenfurt

A trip to the border town of Gorizia, to explore the old town & the imposing castle overlooking it

A trip to the Grotta Gigante (near Trieste): an underground cave so big, the dome of St. Peter’s in Rome would comfortably fit inside (& still have space left over). What I found interesting at the Grotta, is that is construction work going on (right above the Grotta) to build housing. I’m not sure how they got permission to do that but it’s going on. I don’t know about you but I’d be a little concerned about constructing anything above a giant cavern !!

Visits to numerous relatives, catching up from the last time I was here

Food experiences

Can I just say that I ate very well in this last week & a bit in Italy. There is nothing like home cooking especially a plate of Frico (kinda like a cheese melt with potatoes, maybe some prosciutto); a Gubbana (Friulan dessert from Civedale di Friuli) with a topping of Grappa…all finished off with a café corretto (with a shot of grappa).

The next post will be the last to cover Italy & is a bit of a history lesson of the region.

Until then...take care.



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