Grado - Cividale del Friuli - Udine - Aquileia - Trieste - Lipica - Slovenia

Cultural Friuli Venezia Giulia & Slovenia

Destination
Grado - Cividale del Friuli - Udine - Aquileia - Trieste - Lipica - Slovenia
Dates From
23/09/2019
Duration
10 Nights
11 Days
Price From
$5500
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SMALL GROUP TOUR

Romans, Lombards, Huns and Austrians highlight our visit to the northeast Italian region of Friuli. Four nights in Grado with lagoon view rooms. A boat trip to Isola Barbana. Visits to a small winery in the hills of the Collio, the ancient Roman city of Aquileia, charming Udine and magnificent Trieste!  In Slovenia we stay 3 nights in the capital Ljubljana, your next favorite city and the Green Capitol of Europe 2016!  We’ll visit Ptuj, the country’s oldest settlement, the small villages of Kropa and Škofja Loka and take a train ride through the Postojna Caves. Stunning views from your lakeview rooms on beautiful Lake Bled, a pletna boat ride, an optional hike through Vintgar Gorge and great food and wines complete your three night stay in Bled.

Inclusions

  • City walking tours in Udine, Cividale, Trieste, Ljubljana and Ptuj
  • Transfers from Trieste airport and city center at scheduled times
  • 10 nights' 4 & 5 star hotel accommodation
  • Tourist accommodation tax
  • All ground transportation and porterage Days 2-10
  • All breakfasts, 5 dinners and 2 lunches, beverages included
  • All activities and admissions listed in Highlights
  • Full time professional tour manager
  • Drop off at Ljubljana airport or train station

Itinerary

Day 1

The northeast Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia derives its long name from Julius Caesar, who founded the city of Cividale del Friuli (forum Iulii) in 53 BC, and from Venice, of whose territory it was once a part.

The Grado lagoon, part of the north Adriatic coastal floodplain, is a unique nature reserve, home to numerous species of aquatic birds and a great variety of vegetation. The island of Grado, a port during the Roman era, was settled by refugees fleeing the barbarian invasions of the 5th century, then became an important commercial and political center during medieval times. Grado has a charming historic district, wide swaths of sandy beaches and a long promenade.

Our lodging is the waterfront Laguna Palace Hotel (4 nights). Included transfers from Trieste airport and Trieste city center followed by late afternoon orientation tour of Grado, aperitifs and welcome dinner.

Day 2

The Lombards completed a centuries-long odyssey from Scandinavia to Italy, arriving opportunely just at the end of the devastating Goth-Byzantine wars in 568 A.D. Finding the peninsula exhausted and depopulated they took over most of it and ruled for two hundred years, restoring civilization and leaving behind a unique cultural heritage. Cividale del Friuli became their first capital and, this morning, their archaeological museum will recount to us the fascinating story of the Longobardi.

This afternoon we’ll explore the Collio, the predominately white winemaking region in the Gorizia Hills that extends into Slovenia. We’ll tour a cantina that sits on the border near Šmartno and have lunch with a taste of their wines which include Chardonnay and the traditional Brda vines Sivi Pinot, Tokaj, Sauvignon and Beli Pinot.

Day 3

Legend says that Attila watched Aquileia burn from the hilltop where now stands the castle of Udine. Certainly the castle predates its first historical mention in 983 but the town was of little significance until the beginning of its near four century domination by the Republic of Venice in 1420. Appointed to govern the province of Friuli it soon transformed itself into a splendid city of noble palaces and notable works of art still visible today.

Our local guide tour of Udine takes us through the elegant and lively historic center followed by free time to explore on your own and an included lunch at a local trattoria.

The visit continues at the marvelous Patriarch’s Palace, home of the Museo Diocesano, an enormous 15th century library and the wonderful Gallery of Giambattista Tiepolo, the foremost Venetian painter of the 18th century.

Day 4

Aquileia was founded as a Roman town and port in the 2nd century B.C. and over the following six centuries became the fourth largest city in Italy. Its strategic location was the terminus of the trading route that linked the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea and was the Imperial gateway to Asia Minor. With a population of 100,000 it flourished as an agricultural, crafts and cultural center for centuries until the calamity called Attila the Hun arrived in 452 A.D. Aquileia regained prominence in the medieval period through their great Patriarchs when Friuli was a part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Basilica of Aquileia has its origins in the 4th century, was rebuilt several times, but most of what you see now is Romanesque – Gothic style 11th century construction. One hundred years ago the original 4th century mosaic floor was discovered and brought to light – 760 square meters of some of the most wonderful mosaics of the ancient world!

Our local guide will take us on a walk through 1500 years of history that includes the Roman forum, the ancient port, the Basilica and the archeological museum.

Afternoon boat trip through the Grado Lagoon to the Isola di Barbana. Included dinner.

Day 5

Castle Miramare, called the upper Adriatic jewel of the Habsburg Empire, was built in the 1850s as a residence for the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, later the ill-fated emperor of Mexico. The castle is a lovely period piece, highlighted by the Duke’s bedroom and office that were modeled on the cabin and stern wardroom of the warship that he commanded to circumnavigate the world.

Our next stop is spectacular Trieste, one of Italy’s most impressive cities. After warring with the Republic of Venice for two centuries, Trieste, in 1382, petitioned the Habsburgs to become part of Austria, of which it remained until annexed by the Kingdom of Italy following the end of World War I, but, in a long and contorted history, did not officially and finally become a part of the Republic of Italy until 1954. Our local guide will illuminate all this and more.

Slovenia is a small, scenic country of less than 2 million inhabitants bordering Friuli. It has a dynamic culture, welcoming people and a wonderful geographical diversity. Slovenians descend from the Slav tribes that migrated to the region after the fall of the Roman Empire, passed centuries under the rule of various counts and then the Habsburgs and, finally, broke away from the former Yugoslav Federation in 1991 to form their own nation.

This afternoon we’ll visit the Lipica Stud Farm, home to the famous Lipizzaner horses since the 16th century. After a walk through the estate we’ll be treated to a performance of the Classical Riding School.

Late afternoon transfer to Ljubljana, the sparkling capital city of Slovenia. We’ll be staying three nights at Hotel Cubolocated just a short walk off the main square.

Day 6

Ljubljana has the most beautiful historic center, contained within a sprawling pedestrian zone that flanks both sides of the willow-lined Ljubljanica River, with animated cafés and restaurants, magnificent Baroque buildings and bridges. This morning our local guide will proudly walk us through the old town, highlighted by the works of Slovenia’s greatest architect, Joze Plecnik, the outdoor markets, and loomed over by the Ljubljana Castle which houses a fine multi-media historical museum.

This afternoon you’ll be free to explore the winding streets and quaint shops, walk through the immense Tivoli Park, take a boat ride or just park yourself at a riverside café and watch a different version of life pass by.

Included dinner.

Day 7

Morning in beautiful Ptuj, the oldest city in Slovenia and once an important Imperial Roman commercial and administrative center.

Hermann Potočnik Noordung (1892-1929) was a rocket scientist and space pioneer architect who first conceived and designed the orbital wheel-shaped space station in 1928. This afternoon we’ll visit the fascinating Space Technologies Museum in Vitanje dedicated to Potočnik’s work and furthering progress in space colonization.

Evening free.

Day 8

Morning departure for the picturesque, magnificent, defiant, mysterious, and impregnable Predjama Castle. Built into the side of a vertical 123-metre high cliff 700 years ago, it entered into history under control of the Patriarch of Aquileia and later passed to the dukes of Austria. Our local expert will take us through the fascinating history of the castle, tell stories of its colorful inhabitants and describe how people once lived and worked there. Included lunch.

Just a few kilometers away from the castle is the world famous Postojna Caves where we’ll be taken a kilometer and a half deep into the earth by electric cave train. The length of the entire two-track circle line is 3.2 km. The cave train, with a top speed of 13/km per hour, has been taking visitors around the caves for 140 years. At the Great Mountain you will continue the tour on foot through awe-inspiring passages, tunnels and spectacular halls. After viewing the human fish in the aquarium we’ll re-board the train for our return to the surface.

Transfer to enchanting Bled where we’ll spend three nights at the truly Grand Hotel Toplice.

Evening free.

Day 9

Some 14,000 years ago a receding glacier left in its wake the beauty now called Lake Bled. Surrounded by high mountains, a dramatically placed 11th century cliffside castle and its tiny island with 99 steps leading up to the exquisite Church of the Assumption, the lake presents a fairy tale setting like no other.

Optional early morning hike through the spectacular Vintgar Gorge, a narrow wooden path overlooking the rapids and waterfalls of the emerald green Radovna River.

Mid morning walk to Vila Bled (Tito’s Villa) to ponder Socialist realism murals and mosaics and to taste the excellent kremšnita cake. We’ll take a pletna boat ride to Bled Island where you’ll discover to what purpose men attempt to carry their brides up the daunting steps. In the church you can ring the wishing bells to bid someone good health or fortune.

Late afternoon visit to Bled Castle and its fine museum.

Radovljica is an attractive town perched defensively 250 feet above the Sava River Valley. At its center is the medieval Linhartov Square showing off both Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Gostilna Lectar, a 180 year old family-run inn and restaurant will host us for a very entertaining evening.

Day 10

For hundreds of years the small village of Kropa was a major producer of nails and railroad spikes for southern Europe. This morning we’ll have a guided visit to the Iron Forging Museum & Vice Forge where the history of metalworking and local life and customs will come alive.

After time on your own to explore Kropa and lunch on traditional Slovenian dishes we’ll go to Škofja Loka for a guided visit to a typical 15th century Slovene home.

Late afternoon free to explore the 1000 year old town of Bled, take the two hour walk around the lake or go by horse-drawn carriage or tourist train.

Included farewell dinner.

Day 11

Morning transfers to Ljubljana airport and train station.

DATES & PRICES

Starts Ends Price Status Book
23/09/201903/10/2019$5500 p/p twin shareOn Request
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Exclusions

Single supplement (is available if required)
Optional excursions/sightseeing
Meals and beverages other than those specified
Tips/Gratuities
Everything which is not clearly specified under inclusions