Fruili and Trieste - Domain of Venetian Lion and Habsburg Eagle

Prices from £2,395


13 Oct 2020 - 19 Oct 2020
Duration: 6 nights
Ref: 20FRUI
With: Nigel McGilchrist


Prices from £2,395
Single Supplement: £295
Deposit: £200

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Friuli Venezia-Giulia with its capital Trieste represents a true central-European cultural landscape, stretching between the Carnic and Julian Alps and the vast lagoons of the Adriatic coast. Under the shared auspices of the Venetian Lion of St Mark and of the double-headed imperial eagle of the Habsburgs, the threshold to the Balkans in the extreme north-east of Italy has always stood apart for its own particular artistic, historical and even linguistic heritage, shaped by Italians, Slavs and Germans. One of Italy’s five autonomous regions, it harbours many outstanding artistic treasures from Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the century-long rule of the Serenissima: exquisite Roman and early Christian mosaics in the former Roman metropolis of Aquileia, rare sculpture and goldwork in the Longobard stronghold of Cividale, and brilliant frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo in Venetian Udine. Trieste, on the other hand, is an intriguing combination of Mitteleuropa and the Mediterranean, a slice of Vienna by the sea, as exposed to the southerly Scirocco and the north easterly Bora as it is to diverse cultural and political influences. Smaller towns such as San Daniele are home to splendidly decorated churches and painted palaces, while the varied countryside is dotted with rugged castles and elegant villas, little known even among Italians. In addition, the region offers delicious wines and culinary delights from funghi porcini to prize-winning prosciutto, complementing this tour’s many artistic highlights.


"Friuli is a little-known and unexpedtedly civilised region of great contrasts and deep fascination: Alpine peaks and mountain torrents fall through fertile plains to the calm lagoons of its shores; limestone Romanesque bell-towers mingle with Venetian Gothic palazzi. Its air mixes Austrian and Italian culture, Pagan and Christian art, and a refined mountain and maritime cuisine"

Nigel McGilchrist is an Oxford graduate who lived and worked in Italy (in Rome and in Orvieto) for thirty-five years before he moved to the island of Kythera in Greece where he now lives. He taught for the University of Rome, worked as an external Consultant to the Italian Ministry of Arts, and has lectured widely for museums and universities in Europe and the USA, in both Ancient and Renaissance Art. He contributed to several of the Blue Guides on Italy and spent nearly a decade walking, exploring and documenting the monuments and curiosities of the sixty inhabited Greek Aegean islands, preparing a new survey-guide of their archaeology, history and art – published in a complete version of twenty volumes as McGilchrist’s Greek Islands. He has been a lecturer for Art Pursuits Abroad in Italy for seven years.


Morning flight from London Heathrow to Venice. By coach to Sesto al Reghena, a charming mediaeval borgo situated on the border between the Veneto and the Friuli. Continue to Udine, our base for the three nights.


The delightful city of Udine lies at the heart of the Friuli. Its attractive squares, palazzi and churches, connected by arcades, reflect Venetian influence and the city’s role as the seat of the Patriarch of Aquileia. The cathedral features a chapel decorated by Venice’s 18th century superstar painter, Giambattista Tiepolo. From there continue to the castle of Udine, home of the Civic Museums, with a fine collection of Italian paintings. In the afternoon visit the Palazzo Patriarcale with Tiepolo’s murals, demonstrating the panache of his brush and the luminosity of his colours.


Full-day excursion to San Daniele to visit the Oratory of Sant’Antonio Abate, featuring the most beautiful fresco cycle in the entire region. Continue to Cividale, the Roman ‘Forum lulii’, which eventually gave its name in corrupted form to the entire region of Friuli. This little town has extraordinary treasures: the famous stuccoed Tempietto Longobardo, an elaborate 8th century baptismal font and the so-called Altar of Ratchis with Lombardic relief carvings. Return to Udine.


A full-day excursion to Aquileia and Grado, among Ancient’s Rome’s most powerful ports and subsequently as seat of a Patriarch, one of the most impressive early Christian sites in Europe with breathtaking 4th century mosaic floors and an archaeological museum. Mainland invasions forced Aquileia’s residents to seek refuge in the lagoon of Grado. Continue to Trieste where the final three nights are spent.


The great sea port of Trieste, sitting at the foot of the severe Karst hills, has diverse and contrasting parts. Walk through the centre to explore this eclectic city from the Roman Theatre to the Art Nouveau coffee houses frequented by literati such as James Joyce and Italo Svevo. Enjoy a mid-morning coffee break in the historic Caffè degli Specchi on the main square. After lunch coach to the Castle of Miramare, a few miles from the centre of Trieste, the Habsburgic residence of the Emperor Francesco Giuseppe’s younger brother. The castle was designed by the architect Carl Junker and it is built on a promontory with a spectacular panorama over the Riviera Triestina.


In the morning visit the Museum of Villa Sartorio that houses a remarkable collection of drawings by Giambattista Tiepolo. Walk to the Museo Civico Pasquale Revoltella, to visit the urban Villa of Baron Revoltella, a wealthy businessman who contributed to the opening of the Suez Canal. In his Villa we can admire his rich collection of works of art. During the First World War the castle was on the front line and was badly damaged. It was restored to its original splendour by the Thurn and Taxis family. Conclude our visit with a walk along the Rilke path with breath-taking views over the Adriatic sea.


After breakfast, transfer to Venice airport for an early afternoon flight back to London Heathrow.


Twin/double share: £2395 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £295
Tour without flights cost: £2195 per person
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Venice
  • Private transfers and excursions
  • Three nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Hotel Astoria in Udine and three nights’ bed and breakfast in the Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta in Trieste
  • Three dinners and two lunches
  • Guided visits to monuments and museums listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters

Hotel Astoria, Udine

Astoria Hotel Italia is an elegant building situated in the historic city centre, just at the front door of the pedestrian area. Thanks to this excellent location, Guests can easily discover the artistic, cultural and leisure activities of Udine. The air conditioned rooms are fully equipped and feature a DVD player, telephone, minibar, safe, hairdryer, bathrobe and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta, Trieste

This ornate 1873 hotel in Piazza Unità d'Italia is a 4-minute walk from Teatro Lirico Verdi, 1 km from Trieste Cathedral and 1.1 km from St. Giusto Castle. The elegant soundproof rooms are air conditioned and come with antique-style furniture, a minibar, hairdryer and complimentary Wi-Fi.