Adriatic and Venetian Civilization

In this itinerary, Venice looms large for the part it played as a mediator between the ancient Roman-Byzantine civilization. whose ideas spread with amazing persistence from Ravenna through Aquileia to the noble city of Parenzo (now in Slovenia) on the opposite shore of the Adriatic, and the Italian Renaissance which it took so important a hand in forming.

The influence of Venice is to be traced in the mountains of the Cadore, where Titian was born, up to and beyond Trent, where it assumed central European inflections and habits. If our second itinerary seems generously inter woven with Venetian life, the third will be almost completely Venetian, even in cities like Trieste which were not a part of the “Mainland territory”, but which were unable to resist the fascination, the almost hypnotic spell cast by the Queen of the Lagoon.

The itinerary:

At least two days should be spent in Venice.

Where to stay in Venice

There are high quality hotels, apartments, guesthouses and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

We still have to visit the islands of Murano, Burano and most of all, Torcello, the most enchanting spot in the Lagoon.

Returning to Venice, we reach Mestre and drive towards Iesolo (27 miles), continuing towards Trieste, except for a detour (6 miles to the right) to see the Adriatic port of Caorle and the extremely rare cylindrical belltower (11th century), like those in Ravenna, next to its Romanesque Cathedral. Returning to the main road, we turn off only at the junction for Portogruaro, a lovely town with fine Gothic palaces (Palazzo Dal Moro, Palazzo Comunale) and a good Archaeological Museum. 32 miles from Portogruaro, in a picturesque setting of pines and cypresses, stand the remains of Aquileia.

Aquileia

Aquileia was a magnificent city in the times of Augustus and again after the barbarian invasions, in the high Middle Ages. In the 5th century, it became the seat of a patriarchate, and then Venetian. After having reached its maximum splendor in the 11th century, it fell slowly into decay, coming at last to its present state.

Standing isolated and austere is the mighty Basilica (1031) its interior built in various periods, with the richest and most elaborate mosaic floor in all western art. We shall also visit the imposing ruins of the Roman Forum, and the fine Archaeological Museum with mosaics, sarcophagi, and Roman heads including an outstanding one of Tiberius.

Where to stay in Aquileia

There are high quality hotels, hostels, campgrounds and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Grado

Grado – Photo © Marvin (PA)

From Aquileia, following one of the great highways of Adriatic civilization, we reach (10 miles) the city of Grado

Grado, the ancient harbor town of Aquileia set on a tiny island between the lagoon and the sea. It declined after the 12th, century and now only has an excellent beach. Here we shall visit the Basilica di S. Maria delle Grazie (6th century), as well as the Baptistery, set in a picturesque position, with medieval sarcophagi in front. We shall also explore the quaint fishermen’s houses and the pretty canal harbor, like those along the Romagna coast.

Where to stay in Grado

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and villas available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Trieste

We might also dine here, before going on our way along the 14 miles to the state highway which, passing through Monfalcone and leaving the Miramore Castle to our right, brings us (15 more miles) to Trieste, worth one day visit.

Leaving Trieste, we pass through Dome, with its beautiful castles, and turning right of the state highway for Venice, and passing through the Carso, drive another 15 miles until we come to Gorizia

Where to stay in Trieste

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Gorizia.

Gorizia, a city founded about the year 1000, a feudal honor of the Counts of Gorizia from whom it descended to the Hapsburgs in 1500. The eastern suburbs of it are, at present, in Slovenian territory. We climb up to the Castle, a massive monument overlooking the city and its surroundings, rich in memories of the Battle of the Isonzo (World War I). Inside the walls, we find the Romanesque Palazzina dei Conti and the lovely little Gothic church of S.Spirito. In the city are the sumptuous Jesuit church of S. lgnazio and various charming house near the Cathedral. The War Museum in Palazzo Attems is worth a visit.

Where to stay in Gorizia

There are high quality hotels, apartments, farm stays and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Cividale del Friuli

Crossing the Isonzo river, we come (9 miles) to Cormons where after some 10 miles more driving through the Collio Hills we reach Cividale del Friuli on the River Natisone, at the foot of the Julian Alps.

Cividale del Friuli. The town is said to have been founded by Julius Caesar. It was for some time the seat of the Patriarchate of Aquileia (8th-17th century) and many traces still remain here of that Adriatic civilization which, moving inland, mingled with barbarian, and especially Longobard, elements. Dating from this barbarian-Byzantine period is the Tempielto Longobardo, with noteworthy carved figures (9th century). The Cathedral, designed by Pietro Lombardo (16th century) contains a Venetian-Byzantine silver Altar-piece (12th century). There is also an interesting Archaeological Museum and a Chapter Museum with sculptures and tapestries. Before leaving, we will pass by and look at the elegant 14th century Porta Brossana. Another ten miles and we are in UDINE.

Where to stay in Cividale del Friuli

There are high quality hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Udine

A visit to Udine takes the rest of our day.

Where to stay in Udine

There are high quality hotels, apartments, guesthouses and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Pordenone

Pordenone – Photo © insea

The morning of the sixth day we leave Udine by Viale Venezia, go through Codroipo, and crossing the River Tagliamento, come (36 miles) to the city of Pordenone.

Pordenone with its fine 15th century Cathedral and Romanesque bell-tower: between the Cathedral and the Palazzo Comunale (1291), containing a small collection of paintings, we will see the lovely old house of Piazza San Marco.

Where to stay in Pordenone

There are high quality hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Vittorio Veneto

Continuing west, we pass by Sacile (7 miles), with beautiful paintings by Bassano in its 15th century Cathedral, and leaving Highway No. 13 before Godega, we reach Highway N.51 at Vittorio Veneto which has a castle standing on a hill.

The city was formed by uniting the towns of Ceneda, which lies down towards the plain, and Serravalle where the road starts to climb among handsome Gothic houses.

The scenery along the ancient Strada di Alemagna, which we now take, soon becomes mountainous. Passing beside the Lake of Santa Croce we reach (44 miles from Pordenone) Ponte delle Alpi where taking State Highway SS 50 Via del Grappa e del Passo Rolle, we go 5 miles further on and reach the city of Belluno.

Belluno

Belluno, set on a plateau at the meeting of the Rivers Ardo and Piave.

This ancient Roman and medieval center preserves, in an Alpine setting, the vigorous aspect of Venetian civilization. Crossing the Ardo on Via Simon da Cusighe and passing the fine Gothic church of S. Stefano, we reach, by way of Via Roma, the picturesque Piazza del Mercam with its 15th century fountain and beautiful Renaissance arcaded buildings. From here, we go on to the square in which stands the Cathedral, designed by Tullio Lombardo; inside, a 15th century Polyptych by Giovanni Francesco da Rimini, and printings by Bassano, Palma il Giovane and Schiavone. In the same square, we find the Renaissance Palazzo dei Rettori, the most beautiful in the city. By way of Borgo Garibaldi, we return to Ponte Nuovo and from here (5 miles) to Highway SS 51 (Passing 15 miles) Longarone, then, climbing up the valley of the Piave, we come (22 miles from Belluno) to the city of PIEVE DI CADORE, situated on an artificial lake. Pieve was the birthplace of Titian, whose house is fondly preserved, as well as a Madonna and Saints, in the Church. Another handsome building is the Palazzo delta Comunita Cadorina with its 16th century tower.

From Pieve it is worth driving another mile up the road to Pozzale (3,458 ft.) to admire, in the Church, a masterpiece signed (1514) by Vittore Carpaccio: the Madonna with SS. Tommaso and Rocco.

Where to stay in Belluno

There are high quality hotels, apartments, guesthouses and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Cortina d’Ampezzo

On the morning of the next day, return to Highway SS 51, through the Boite River Valley, amidst the magnificent scenery of Ml. Pelmo (10,397 ft.) on the left and the Amelao (10,705 ft.) on the right, we reach (18 miles from Pieve) Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, a famous resort for winter sports and mountaineering, with many hotels and clubs, cable-cars, ski-lifts, and possibilities for trips in all direction. We suggest devoting. the afternoon to a drive around Mt. Cristallo: from Cortina, by way of Passo Tre Croci.(Three Crosses Pass), up to the entrancing Lake of Misurina, then keeping to the left, to the small White Lake and, with Mt. Cristallo on one side and the Tribute Range on the other, back to Cortina.

On the next day we leave Cortina and take the marvelous State Highway SS 48 of the Dolomite Passes. After 17 miles, we reach the Falzarego Pass (6,906 ft.) from which there is an incredible view.

Where to stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo

There are high quality hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Bolzano

Descend to Pieve di Livinallongo (4,798 ft.), a charming village at the foot of Col di Lana, and then to Arabba, having the rocky mass of the Sella constantly before us. After the Pordoi Pass (7,675 ft.) we go down to Canazei (34 miles from Cortina in the Val di Fassa. At Vigo di Fassa (44 miles) we turn right onto the road to the romantic Lake of Carezza and from here (70 miles) down to Canazei (34 miles from Cortina)in the Val di Fassa. At Vigo di Fassa (44 miles) we turn right onto the road to the romantic Lake of Carezza and from here (70 miles) down to BOLZANO.

Where to stay in Bolzano

There are high quality hotels, apartments, guesthouses and villas available, check them out and make a reservation here.

The itinerary continues with: Adriatic and Venetian Civilization – Part 2: From Bolzano to Venice.
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