Udine / Friaul - Italy
The city of Udine in northeastern Italy has a population of around 100,000, and is the second largest city in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The elegant city center around the Piazza della Libertá brings to mind a glorious past with its architecture, towers and fountains.
On the Palazzo del Comune, also called the Loggia del Lionello, the clock tower with its Lion of Saint Mark harks back to the era when the city was under Venetian control. Udine is well-known and loved for its shopping opportunities, not just because of its atmosphere, but also due to the multitude of elegant shops and boutiques.
A wander around the city allows you to marvel at churches decorated with fascinating frescos by artists such as Tiepolo and Quaglio. The castello on the hill offers a wonderful view over the city and the mountains in the distance. Udine is also well-equipped when it comes to sport. The Udine basketball team has been playing in the top league for many years, and the city’s football team, Udinese Calcio, is one of the oldest clubs in Italy, having been founded in 1896.
The city was first mentioned in 983 in a document issued by Emperor Otto II. A market was established in the city in 1223. In 1420, the city and the entire Friuli area was taken over by the Venetians. Most of the city’s historic buildings were constructed during this period, which give the city its present-day look. Throughout its history Udine has witnessed the war between the Venetians and the Hapsburgs, Ottoman invasions, the occupation of the Friuli region by Napoleon and various, sometimes devastating earthquakes.
Numerous legends are centered around the castle on the hill. Probably the most interesting of these claims that the soldiers of Attila the Hun carried earth in their helmets to create a hill in order that their feared leader would have a better view of Aquileia while it burned. In fact, the hill is a moraine dating from the ice age, on top of which a castle was built. Its main hall played host in times gone to the Friuli parliament, which was one of the first to be founded in Europe. Today the Museo Civico, the Galleria d’Arte Antica, a library and a photo gallery are contained within its walls.
Education and culture
The University of Udine was founded after the huge earthquake of 1978. Nowadays it offers 17,000 students from Italy and all over the world a broad spectrum of faculties.
Residents and visitors alike can enjoy a range of events throughout the year in the city’s theatres, churches, halls and on its numerous squares. Whether folk music, organ concerts, jazz or theatre performances, there is something to suit everybody’s tastes. Every year in September, a riding competition takes place on the Piazza Primo Maggio, while craftsmen, farmers and winegrowers pamper visitors with their products at the Friuli DOC Festival each October. The art museum in Udine Castle enjoys a nationwide reputation. Its collection features paintings and sculptures from the 15th Century up to the present day, including works by Tiepolo, Ghirlandaio, Caravaggio and Canova.
Economy and tourism
The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is particularly known as a wine-producing area, which is renowned both in Italy and abroad. Its white wines are some of the world’s best. World-famous San Daniele ham has a unique taste, which it owes not least to the Adriatic climate and the rough storms in the nearby mountains. The ham is hung for at least one year in large, ventilated buildings. Agriculture dominates the area’s lowlands, while cattle are grazed in the mountains for the production of milk and cheese. Metal processing and furniture production also play an important role in the local economy.
From a tourist’s point of view, Udine is especially a magnet for keen shoppers. Many tourists come to Udine for the day, above all from Villach in Austria and from Slovenia.