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Secret Italy: Trieste and Udine

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So much to discover

  • Enjoy a guided tour of Trieste, Europe’s largest seafront square
  • See the remains of Aquileia, an ancient Roman megacity 
  • Take a guided tour of the Aquileia's UNESCO-listed basilica
  • Discover Udine, a hidden Venetian gem with grand architecture 
  • Visit Miramare, Archduke Maximillian’s castle and botanical park 
  • Tour the prestigious Mosaic School of Friuli to admire this intricate art
  • Visit a traditional producer to see how San Daniele’s delicious prosciutto is cured
  • Sample the Collio region’s white wines on a visit to a renowned producer
  • Visit the Lombard Temple of Cividale, an 8th-century church with art from the Middle Ages
  • Explore fascinating Gorizia, a city once divided between Italy and Yugoslavia

Relax, it's included in the price
5 nights in 4-star accommodation
Bed & breakfast
Programme of daily tours & visits
Expert tour manager
Return flights & transfers
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Few places in Italy remain undiscovered, but the tiny region of Friuli Venezia Giulia – known simply as Friuli – is a treasure trove of historic and artistic gems. You may find your first visit surprising, as there’s so much to explore and it’s so easy to fall under the spell of this unspoilt landscape. Tucked away in the northeast at Italy’s borders with Austria and Slovenia, Friuli boasts enchanting scenery of staggering contrasts. The snow-capped Dolomites and Julian Alps dominate the north, while fertile plains and manicured vineyards sweep across the centre and south in emerald waves to meet the rugged Adriatic coast. 

As a border region, Friuli has a complex and fascinating history: it began with the Romans in Aquileia, then Cividale rose to prominence as the capital of a Lombard dukedom, and the Venetians took control of Udine. However, it was the Habsburgs who had the greatest influence, with Trieste being a jewel in the crown of the Austro-Hungarian empire until it was ceded to Italy in 1918. Gorizia is a fascinating and unique border town once divided from Slovenia’s Nova Gorica – meaning ‘new Gorizia’ – with medieval arcades and Baroque palaces.

Then there’s the extraordinary collection of art: peppered throughout the towns of Friuli are historic highlights from virtually every period of Italian art and architecture, from Roman ruins and early medieval churches, to dazzling Byzantine frescoes and Renaissance treasures.

Gastronomically, the region offers a variety of flavours which reflect neighbouring influences, such as polenta from the Veneto, soups and dumplings from Central Europe, and interpretations of Austrian desserts. Friuli is perhaps best-known for its outstanding wines, particularly the white varietals, and there are plenty of tantalising dishes to sample: the dry-cured ham of San Daniele, frico or savoury crisps made with creamy Montasio cheese, and gnocchi with cherries or plums!

The base for our engaging tour is Udine, an affluent provincial city whose grand historic centre features Roman columns, Grecian statues and Venetian archways. We discover the legacies of Caesar, Charlemagne and the dukes of Lombard in the charming towns of Cividale and Aquileia, and admire Trieste’s splendid Habsburg heritage, art and architecture. We enjoy a coastal drive to Miramare, where we visit the magnificent castle built for Austrian Archduke Maximilian. 

One of the delights of this less-visited – but no less wonderful – region is the absence of crowds often associated with other parts of Italy. This means you can truly take your time to savour Friuli’s very many treasures, and the locals are so friendly and welcoming, you’ll soon feel right at home.

Your itinerary


Piazza della Liberta square in Udine

Fly to Italy and transfer by coach to your four-star hotel in Udine, the historic capital of Friuli.


Trieste overlooking Adriatic Sea


After breakfast we drive through rolling countryside with the snowy peaks of the Julian Alps never too far off in the distance. We arrive in Trieste, the region’s cosmopolitan capital, beautifully situated on the gulf of Trieste overlooking the Adriatic Sea. We will partake in a walking tour of the area, which has a reputation as ‘the city of cafés’. Notably the seafront Piazza Unità d’Italia – Europe’s largest sea-facing square, features the smart cafés, with their inspiring sea views were once frequented by literary figures, such as James Joyce and Sigmund Freud.

During our tour, your local guide will introduce you to Trieste’s highlights and splendid mix of architectural styles in its largely pedestrianised old town. Up above the hill overlooking the harbour stands a medieval fortified castle, which remains remarkably preserved as it has been miraculously spared any significant military activity. At the foot of the hill lie the ruins of a striking Roman theatre, astonishingly unearthed only in 1938! It once had a magnificent proscenium decorated with ornate statues and archways looking out to the sea – in Roman times, the sea reached inland as far as the theatre! Another must-see is the San Giusto cathedral, known for its dazzling Byzantine mosaics, reminiscent of those in Ravenna. 


After our tour, you have free time to wander at your own pace and soak up the café culture for yourself – try a strucolo de pomi, the Triestine take on apple strudel, with a cup of Illy coffee, the famous brand that was founded here.

Next, we follow the coastal road to Miramare Castle, built in 1860 for the Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium. Set dramatically on a rocky promontory above the sea, this fairy-tale castle is a fine example of an aristocratic residence with remarkably preserved furnishings. Entrance is included to the castle, so take a closer look at Habsburg life in the eclectic interiors or stroll through its immaculately landscaped park to admire the impressive variety of plants. If the beauty and serenity of the location haven’t taken your breath away, the stunning views over the gulf will surely do the trick.





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Classic Tours Information

Along with your experienced and knowledgeable tour manager and local experts, you’ll discover so much on our award-winning Classic tours, offering the best value for money way for you to explore the world.

Our tour managers have been rated as the best in the business for their knowledge and experience and will go above and beyond to ensure every aspect of your holiday runs smoothly – so all you need to worry about is your packing.

Small Groups Information

On a range of tours we are delighted to offer the option to travel in a small group of up to 25 people.
You’ll enjoy the same sociable atmosphere of a typical Riviera Travel holiday - but with a smaller number of travellers and a touch more exclusivity.

Available across our range of UK, European and select Worldwide tours; just look out for the icon on holiday pages.

Transfer Times

All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.

Airport Hotel location Transfer time
Venice Marco Polo Airport Udine 1 hr 45 mins
Venice Treviso Airport 1 hr 45 mins
Trieste Airport 1 hr


Why should I choose Riviera Travel?

We care deeply about our customers and the holiday experience they have. We’re passionate about travel and we want all aspects to be perfect, with personal service and attention at every step of the way. Our world-class holidays include everything you need, with no detail overlooked. We carefully curate every aspect of your trip based on our own first-hand experience and expertise built up over decades in the travel industry.

What is included in the price?

The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a room and includes:

  • Return flights
  • Five nights’ accommodation with breakfast
  • All local taxes and transfers
  • All tours as mentioned
  • The services of a Riviera Travel tour manager

We guarantee there are never any hidden costs or surcharges, inflated prices or artificial discounts.

What is not included in the price?

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