Journey through Istria and Friuli17 - 25 September, 2019

Croatia and Italy
Trip Dates:
17 - 25 September, 2019
Trip Price: £1950 excluding international flights
Single Room Supplement: £290
Trip Length: 9 days

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

Trip Leader: Nirvana Romell

Nirvana is a born and bred Croatian. After graduating from the University of Zagreb in Croatia with a degree in Art History (Western art and the arts and cultures of the western Balkans), she moved via South Africa to England, arriving in Cheshire in October 2003. Since then, she has been working as a freelance lecturer on the history of Western art, including Croatian art and culture, giving numerous talks, leading workshops and accompanying tours of permanent and temporary exhibitions for organisations such as the Manchester Art Gallery, National Museums in Liverpool, the Arts Society, the Royal Geographical Society, University of Manchester and others. She has already accompanied several very successful visits to Friuli and Istria for Distant Horizons. 

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Journey through Istria and Friuli Trip Comments:

‘We thoroughly enjoyed travelling to a region pretty much unknown to us with excellent planning and services and with the academic rigour, yet amusingly accessible day to day guidance of Nirvana Romell.’
'This was a most enjoyable holiday in a peaceful and extremely interesting region with excellent local dishes and wine and full of fascinating history'. Nirvana Romell was an added bonus.'
'All aspects of the trip were excellent. Nirvana is an inspirational scholar which made the trip extra special. Many of the places visited were a revelation and unspolit offering a fascinating culture and good food and wine.'
The trip was most interesting and enjoyable. Nirvana a wonderful leader, not only because she could enlighten us about the art, history and culture but also because she was a native of the Balkans and was able to impart so much interesting information about the history, customs, traditions and food and wine of the region and all delivered with a wonderful sense of humour.'