Italian Winter Holidays – Visit The Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region

You shouldn’t think of Italy as only a summer destination. There are so many things to do and to see during the Italian spring, fall, and even winter. This series of articles provides ideas for your Italian winter vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, and sometimes skiing and other winter sports. Italian winter holidays have several advantages: You won’t fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find, and every region has its own winter festivals. When we say winter, we mean November to February; spring comes early in Italy. Don’t look here for information about Italy’s marvelous Carnevale; we are planning a separate series covering regional Carnevale celebrations. Talk about planning; start organizing your Italian winter holidays now. Keep reading.

The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy borders on Austria and Slovenia. This lovely Alpine region shares more than a border with these two countries, Friuli is one of the most multicultural areas of Italy. You will taste and see the difference in Friuli’s food, wine, and festivals. Given its location don’t be surprised that there are lots of opportunities for excellent skiing. This article presents other winter attractions.

Trieste, the regional capital, holds its Christmas market, Fiera di San Nicolo, in the first week of December. Many Alpine towns and hamlets celebrate the Krampus festivities during the first two weeks of December. Young men disguised in hideous masks roam the streets and frighten little children. Unlike Saint Nicholas who gives gifts to good children, Krampus warns and even punishes the bad children. You’ll also see traditional Nativity Scenes everywhere in Friuli. New Year’s Eve festivals include Alessio’s Twenty Year Festival, La Koleda in Resia, and Cicigolis (Pulfero). Or you may prefer celebrating this holiday in Trieste at the seaside Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia (Italian Unity Square), which happens to be the largest seaside plaza in Europe. I can’t promise you good weather.

January 6 means the feast of Epiphany. Many of the towns and villages hold traditional, colorful celebrations. Gemona del Friuili hosts the Epiphany of the Thaler, a historical parade of dames and knights who accompany the town’s Mayor to the Duomo (Cathedral) where a special Mass is recited. Paularo hosts a bonfire called La Femenate. Tarcento’s Pignarul Giant Bonfire Festival dates back centuries. A venerable old man tells stories and at the top of a hill lights a bonfire. Legend says that the direction of the smoke serves to predict the nature of the year to come. Other local Epiphany events include Cividale’s Historical Pageant and Costume Parade and Gemona’s Messa del Tallero (Medieval Pageant).

In February the town of Pordenone holds a Costumed Kangaroo Court. Pracchiuso is well known for its celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Friuli wines including Ramandolo.


Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but he prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college.

Where to stay in Trieste

Hotels, apartments, condo hotels and villas are available for reservation here.