Five of Friuli Venezia Giulia's Most Beautiful Villages

Our journey through Italy’s borghi (historic villages) continues in Friuli Venezia Giulia, our featured region of the month. Italy’s Culture Ministry has declared 2017 as the Anno dei Borghi (Year of Italy's Historic Villages), and we’re happy to feature them as they are such worthy destinations, often guarding ancient traditions and incredible, little-known artistic and architectural jewels.

Below is our pick for five borghi not to miss in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

The only example of a 14th-century fortified village in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Venzone was razed to the ground by an earthquake in 1976 and reconstructed exactly the way it was in the Middle Ages. It is a remarkable example of a successful architectural and artistic renovation. Declared a national monument, Venzone won the title of Italy’s most beautiful borgo at this year’s competition of a popular travel show on Italian TV.

In the mountainous area known as Carnia, Sauris, with only 600 residents, is Friuli Venezia Giulia’s smallest borgo, and also the highest, located at 1,212 meters. With German origins, Sauris, which is actually made up of five tiny villages, features Alpine-style houses in stone and wood. Residents still speak Saurano, the ancient language of their ancestors, similar to German. Make sure you try the famous prosciutto di Sauris!

In western Friuli, the medieval village of Cordovado boasts a series of fascinating historic sites including a fortified area known as ‘Castello’ (castle), a Baroque sanctuary, an ancient parish church dating from the 15th century.  

Also destroyed by the 1796 earthquake, Gemona, which lies at the foot of the Julian Prealps, was faithfully reconstructed. It is a medieval village with pre-Roman beginnings. In the heart of the village stands the beautiful Romanesque-Gothic Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta and the Sanctuary of Saint Anthony, the world’s oldest sanctuary dedicated to the patron saint of Padua.

Tiny Valvasone was founded by the Romans as it was strategically places along important communication routes. There are several worthy historic buildings, including the Castle, the Duomo, an ancient 15th century water mill. Just strolling through the ancient streets of Valvasone, among its arcaded houses, medieval and Renaissance buildings will transport you back in time. 

Off the beaten track
Gemona del Friuli