Often built for defense and administration purposes, the castles of Friuli have lost their original tasks over time, but have maintained their fascination and have become material witnesses of the culture and history of our land.
ADVISED PERIOD: all year round, but the best seasons are spring and autumn, above all if you choose a bicycle as your means of transport.
TIMES: one whole day. For those who wish to ride their bicycles around the place, the route is of average difficulty, on a hilly track, completely on tarred roads. Given the length of the route, it is possible to short-cut the ride by limiting the stopovers to your liking.
WHERE: the itinerary leaves from and arrives at the castle of Fontanabona (hamlet of the Pagnacco Town District), easily accessible from the highway exit gate in Udine nord (km 6).
Our tour across the hills of Friuli sets off from the small rural borough of Fontanabona, whose name stems from the water which springs out in the small central square.
The village of Fontanabona is towered over by a castle of Medieval origin, which was rearranged in the late XVIII century, and by its wonderful garden, characterized by rare and centuries-old plants; among these it is the giant Tuja with its hut-like branches, which stands out and is visible just in front of the building which hosts the agricultural estate. The earliest mention regarding the inhabited area dates back most likely to the X century. The castle of Fontanabona has been property of the Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia since 1969, thanks to a donation.
Taking the road that leads to Pagnacco again, we will now head for Tricesimo.
The wall structure, placed on top of the hill from which your sight will reach all round to the surrounding plains and hills, presents features which are typical of the sixteenth century, even if the foundation of an early inhabited area dates back to mid-1300.
This castle of Tricesimo has undergone a long series of ownerships, and this is an evident sign of how this location was particularly sought after for its great strategic importance.
Facing the medieval external walls, the main building features late-renaissance characteristics; inside the fortified perimeter there is also the gentiles’ chapel, with a crypt and sixteenth century frescoes.
Where to stay in Triesimo
There are high quality hotels, farm stays and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.
Back on the main road, you will take the junction for the nearby town of Cassacco and ride on to Colloredo, one of the most famous (also because it was for some time the home of Ippolito Nievo) and best preserved castles – until the 1976 earthquake – on the whole territory of Friuli. Before the earthquake, the whole structure of the Colloredo Castle, made up of a series of buildings dating back to the Sixteenth century, rotated around the superb and imposing clock tower, real and proper central axis of the whole fortified “machine”; today the tower is a symbol of a slow, difficult reconstruction but which is stubbornly deemed to be completed.
Besides the reconstruction of the tower, also the reconstruction of the west wing of the Colloredo Castle has been completed, whereas all the east wing structures are still lying in a state of ruin and unfortunately only a very small part of the valuable stuccoes and frescoes by Giovanni da Udine, famous painter and decorator and pupil of Raphael, have been recovered.
Once again on the main road, you will turn right in the direction of San Daniele, and then you will follow directions for Fagagna. In a continuous flow of woods and fields on the right you will see the castle of Rive d’Arcano, a monumental structure which is one of the most well preserved on the entire regional territory; on the top floors the architectural and decorative stratification, of late –Romanic origins has been kept intact, whereas the sprightly decorations and frescoes in the dining-room are products which date back to the XVIII century.
It is worthwhile to recall that the wine-farm inside the borough usually takes part in the event “Cantine Aperte” (Open Cellars), where it presents its products in the suggestive framework of its landscape.
And now we will head for Fagagna, ancient seat of a castle which is today only just a few ruins, from whose terraced location you will in any case enjoy a spectacular panorama at 360 degrees overlooking the plains ; from this really privileged point of observation you will get a glance of o your next destination: the castle of Villalta. It was declared a national monument in 1976 and this estate is undoubtedly one of the largest in the Region, as it includes not only the main house, with sumptuous frescoed halls dating back to the Sixteenth century, but also double external walls, a suggestive entrance with a draw-bridge, two characteristic yards and a gentilitial chapel named after Saint Michael.
The castle of Fagagna was founded in Roman times and the first document which mentions it dates back to the Twelfth century; just like many other defensive structures in Friuli, it underwent numerous expansions and modifications between the Thirteenth and Sixteenth century, the age in which the Counts della Torre gave it its current structure and characteristic look.
Where to stay in Fagagna
There are high quality hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.
We will now take the uphill road again, leading towards Moruzzo, and then turn right following the indications for Brazzacco, last stop-over of our itinerary.
In ancient times there were two castles in Brazzacco: one called Lower Castle, of which very little remains, and the other called Top Castle, where you can still admire the fortifications with the guard’s building and the ruins of the main tower, which may be dated back to the mid- Thirteenth century.
By following the indications for Pagnacco, on the left you will find, after a few kilometers, the cross-roads for Fontanabona, starting point and arrival of our itinerary.