For millennia, the peoples from all corners of Europe lived, traded and fought in this region of Europe. The original peoples of the Bronze-age Castellieri culture were conquered, with great difficulty, by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. The narrow passage between the Alps and the Adriatic has been a coveted trade route ever since.
The journey begins in Istria where all the layers of its incredible cultural and natural history are still visible – from the dinosaur footprints, amazing karst geology and castellieri (hilltop fortifications) to Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Habsburg monuments. The highlights are the great Roman amphitheatre in Pula (a Roman city built on 7 hills!) and the Byzantine Episcopal complex of the Euphrasian basilica in Poreč, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, Istria inevitably charms with small, off-the-beaten-track natural and cultural wonders, many of which will be incorporated in this journey.
Like Istria, Friuli also showcases a cultural and historical mix – Roman, Byzantine and Venetian juxtaposed with the spirit of the Habsburg “Mitteleuropa”. The patriarchy of Aquileia played a decisive role in the spread of Christianity into central Europe, and the journey will explore its three seats of power: Aquileia, Cividale del Friuli, and Udine. Picturesque Cividale, perched on karst cliffs above the river Natissone, was the first capital of the Lombard Kingdom in the 6th century and the seat of the Aquileian Patriarchy from the 8th until the 11th century. Its historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, charming visitors with buildings and sights from Lombard and Venetian eras. Also inland, the town of Udine is the capital of the Friuli region. It is renowned for ‘the most beautiful Venetian piazza on the terra firma’, architecture by Palladio and frescoes by Tiepolo, decorating most notably the palazzo built by the last Patriarch of Aquileia in the 18th century.
Maximum Party Size: 15