Trieste, Miramare castle. North-east of Italy, Friuli Venezia Giulia region.
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Between the Eastern Italian Alps and the Adriatic sea

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a region located in north-eastern Italy with Trieste as capital. It’s bordered by Austria to the north, Slovenia to the east, Veneto region to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the south. It is composed of two historical-geographical regions with different cultural characteristics: Friuli and Venezia Giulia.

Latin, Slavic, and Germanic cultures

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a territory where the ethnic-linguistic traditions of the European continent three main cultures met: Latin, Slavic, and Germanic. Here they communicated and, over the centuries, they also clashed creating multiple differences.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia from the Alps to the sea

The territory extends from the Eastern Italian Alps to the Adriatic coast. It includes most of the Carnic Alps and a section of the Julian Alps. To the south of the Alps and along the central part of the border with Slovenia extend hilly areas largely destined for wine growing. The wines of this region, especially the white ones, are known all over the world for high-quality production.

The flat land of the region

From the hills, the wide plain which constitutes the eastern section of the Po valley extends towards the Adriatic. This flat region is divided into two areas by the line of springs which extends from north-west to south-east. The area of the high plain, located to the north, has a soil formed by coarse and permeable river deposits. While the low plain, located to the south, has a soil formed by fine and impermeable river deposits.

The coast

Finally, the coast that stretches from the mouth of the Tagliamento river to the border with Slovenia. This area can be divided into two sub-areas separated by the mouth of the Isonzo river. From the Tagliamento to the Isonzo the coast is low and sandy with large lagoons (Grado lagoon and Marano lagoon) and with seaside resorts such as Grado and Lignano Sabbiadoro. While from the Isonzo to the border, where the karst plateau meets the Adriatic, the coast is rocky.

The environment of Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Two regional parks and numerous reserves protect the natural environment and its resources. Below is the list of protected areas:

The coastal and lagoon area

Miramare marine nature reserve in the Gulf of Trieste; Canal Novo Valley Nature Reserve; Foci dello Stella Nature Reserve; Valle Cavanata Nature Reserve; Foce dell’Isonzo Nature Reserve; Duino Cliffs Nature Reserve; Grotari and Vulcan Valleys Nature Reserve.

The hinterland of the Carnic mountains and the Karst

Friulian Dolomites Natural Park; Julian Prealps Natural Park; Cucco Natural Reserve; Rio Bianco Natural Reserve; Forra del Cellina Natural Reserve; Cornino Lake Natural Reserve; Monte Lanaro Natural Reserve; Monte Orsario Natural Reserve; Val Rosandra Natural Reserve; Natural Reserve Val Alba; Doberdò and Pietrarossa Lakes Nature Reserve.

In addition, 37 natural biotopes have been established distributed throughout the regional territory.

Historical background

The period between the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age is characterized by the Castellieri culture. They were fortified villages consisting of one or more concentric walls within which the town developed. A territory already inhabited by Italic populations of the Euganei and Veneti, since the fifth century, it has been occupied by the Carni of Celtic origin. In 221 BC the Roman conquest begins and will be fully consolidated in 115 BC.

The Roman Empire

In 181 BC the Roman colony of Aquileia was founded, an important river port in a strategic position for commercial and military purposes. Towards the middle of the 1st century BC, Julius Caesar founds Forum Julii (the current Cividale del Friuli). In the Augustus subdivision of Italy, the territory is included in Regio X (Venetia et Histria). New settlements with colonies and centuriations are created.

The bishopric of Aquileia

In the last decades of the III century, Aquileia became the seat of one of the most prestigious bishoprics of the Empire. It gave a vigorous contribution to western Christianity development by becoming a metropolis for about twenty dioceses in Italy and about ten beyond the Alps. Wanted by Saint Ambrose, in 381 an important council was held in Aquileia to definitively ban the Aryan doctrine and its followers.

The fall of the Roman Empire

Despite the complex system of fortifications created by the Romans in the Julian Alps, in 452 Aquileia was conquered and razed to the ground by Attila. Many inhabitants and bishops manage to escape by taking refuge on the island of Grado. With this episode Roman rule ends in the north-eastern part of Italy. However, Aquileia manages to remain an ideal landmark of exceptional importance even after the collapse of the Empire. In fact, in the VIth century, the Patriarchate was established as a natural successor to the bishopric that preceded it.

The Lombards

In 568 the Lombards occupied the region creating an important duchy with Forum Julii as capital. Subsequently, the Latin name of the city will change to Cividale. While the name Forum Julii will be transformed into Friuli to indicate the totality of the Lombard Duchy. From 774 the region passed under Franks domination which transformed the Duchy into March of Friuli. In the struggles that followed for the imperial investiture in Italy and in the rest of Europe, the patriarchs managed to increase their assets and power from the beginning of the Xth century. An event that will see the birth of the free city-states of the Middle Ages in central and northern Italy.

The Republic of Venice

In 1077 the patriarchal state of Aquileia was created which would last until 1420 when the whole region of Friuli was annexed to the Republic of Venice. While the Free Municipality of Trieste in 1468 and the Autonomous County of Gorizia in 1500 were definitively annexed to the Austrian Empire until 1915.

Under the Austrians

In 1797 the Campoformido treaty sanctioned the end of the Republic of Venice with the assignment of Veneto and Friuli to Austria. Except for a short period, in 1815 the region was included in the Lombardo-Venetian Kingdom, a dependent state of the Austrian empire until 1866 (annexation to the Kingdom of Italy).

At the end of the II World War

And it is in this historical context that the name of Venezia Giulia was coined by the Italian linguist Graziadio Isaia Ascoli in 1863. The area corresponded to the Regio X augustea (Venetia et Histria). Today, the Italian part is represented by the territories of Gorizia and Trieste. Friuli-Venezia Giulia reaches its present shape at the end of the Second World War.

Map of the region