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Undiscovered Italy - Carso region near Slovenian border

Wondering if anyone is familiar with the Carso Region between Venice & Trieste, and can share their experiences.

While we wait for international travel to resume, I've researched some "off the beaten path" destinations for our next trip to Italy.

The Carso Region, apparently virtually overlooked as a tourist destination, has registered here as worthy of consideration, for perhaps a 3-4 day visit as part of a longer Italian, or European itinerary.

It looks to be a blend of Italian, Germanic, & Slavic cultures.

Hiking on hillsides overlooking the Adriatic, walking on trails linking numerous towns, unique regional wine, castles to explore, a rich folk history, & sampling a network of local taverns (i.e. "osmizas"), are among the rewards that await the curious traveler.
With a bonus of freedom from hordes of tourists.

Would appreciate hearing about towns that are "must see", travel & lodging tips, any potential language issues, the ease of traveling here, etc.

Thanks in advance!

Richard

Posted by
59 posts

Yep, you named most of the reasons to go there, the closer you get to the Slovenian border the less it seems like Italy and the more it seems like you're in Slovenia. Trieste locals don't even really consider themselves part of Italy. The osmizas are a great experience, if you haven't discovered it yet this app is the best resource to finding these little advertised options. http://www.osmize.com/ tells you what's nearby and what their hours are which is what's important as they pop up individually for about a week or two and disappear.

Trieste is a good base to explore the area putting you within a hour or two of almost everything. This is where we stayed as it's the biggest city in the area with the most to do and the most going on.

Udine is of course at the top of the list with the beautiful Loggia di San Giovanni

Padua for its Astronomical Clock

Gorizia is tiny and quiet, I liked the castle and it's square

Marostica - the chess village is worth seeing

Cividale del Friuli would be on the top of the list, its beautiful bridge to enter the town, the mysterious Celtic Hypogeum cave you need to ask for a key to see at the local tavern, Monastero Santa Maria in valle to see the Lombard temple...

The ruins at Aquileia with the Bascilica with it's amazing mosaic floor and the underground crypt

Grado for the seaside ambiance

If you like caves the Grotta del Gigante

Palmanova is most exciting from the air, seeing the fortress towns shape, but less exciting on the ground in person

I loved the area and would never regret spending time there

No more language barrier than anywhere else in northern Itlay. It's going to be the same thing as everywhere in Italy, the bigger the town the more touristy the location the younger the person the more likely to speak English.

I travel by rental car so that's what I would recommend, easy to get around and do what you want to do when you want to do it.

Posted by
16 posts

Wow Mike, what a tremendous response supplying so much useful information.....thanks so much.
It’s been difficult to find the kind of detail that you have provided.

What time of year did you visit the Carso ?

Your reply proves again what a valuable resource for travelers that Rick offers on his Travel Forum, & how knowledgeable & helpful his fans are.

Thanks again.

Richard

Posted by
1600 posts

hey he richard
we rented an apartment in rome and our "landlord" was from trieste, she talked alot that area and the love of it. we didn't have time to visit but it's on my ucket list. also had customers from udine and said it's so different from the touristy places everyone has on their list to see with the crowds of tourists. they gave me some sites to check out that i will send to you.
nytimes.com/36 hours in trieste
tripsavvy.com/friuli-venezia-giulia map and travel gude
electircbluefood.com/trieste
theguardian.com/local guide to trieste
these places get put on the back burner, best place to see different parts of italy without much tourists. do you speak italian, if not put your google translate on phone. hope it all works out for you and enjoy
aloha

Posted by
63 posts

We have a trip to the region planned for September of this year (perhaps overly optimistic). For research, I have been using a Bradt travel guide - Friuli Venezia Giulia, by Facaros & Pauls. It covers most of the places Mike mentioned and has been very helpful. Enjoy your planning.

Posted by
17890 posts

The NY Times had an article about Gorizia in the Travel section on December 16, 1990. Unfortunately, that was before the digital era, and the only way I found to read it online was to follow this link and scroll manually to page 581: https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1990/12/16/issue.html. The article might available at your local library on microfilm or microfiche, I suppose.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks to princess pupule,Michael, & acraven as well.

So much helpful info, I have some homework to do!

Much appreciated.

Richard

Posted by
400 posts

I think it would be a great off the beaten track area to explore. I have been to that area twice, when visiting friends who were stationed at Aviano. In March 2018 weather was beautiful, sunny but cool, not cold in the daytime. Some drizzle. We used jackets, not winter coats. Our friends did the driving but the roads/highways were in good condition. We visited the star fort town of Palmanova, which , as Mike said, needs to be appreciated from above for the full effect but if in the area I would stop to see it. Aquileia was very pretty. At one time it was actually on the coast. The church mosaic floor is beautiful and there are ruins beneath the church for viewing. The roman ruins in town give you a sense of what it was like in the past. Take a look at the cemetery directly behind the church. We also visited Grado on a Sunday, a pretty little coastal town with lots of folks eating at outdoor cafés. We did not get to Udine, but the photos of it that I have seen on Instagram are attractive and if I were going to that area I would consider it. I have Trieste and nearby Muggia on my wish list of places to visit someday and they are relatively close to the places mentioned above. Friends that live in the area also recommended Chioggia but that is a little south of Venice. As you move northward in Friuli Venezia the mountain and natural scenery is beautiful. Lago di Barcis area is scenic and should be good for hiking.

Posted by
1745 posts

There is a WSJ article too in case you are a subscriber. Also try the UK papers, which generally have good travel coverage.
Sounds like a perfect postcovid trip!

Posted by
59 posts

Richard, we were there in Sept.

Just to be specific the osmizas aren't really local taverns, more like local farmhouses.

Here is the description from my travel journal:
"Osmiza (Eight) is a wine selling tradition that dates back to the 9th century, granted by the king to wine farmers/producers the right to sell their surplus wine tax-free over an eight-day period to get rid of the surplus wine and make space in barrels for the next years new vintage. Eight days has grown however it takes some work to figure out which Osmiza's are happening and where. The Osmiza are the best place to sample Slovenian Karst fare (many of Trieste’s surrounding villages are still primarily Slovene-speaking). There’s rarely a menu: just turn up and ask for a pitcher of local wine and whatever meats and cheeses are available."

We were the only Americans the two different nights we ate at an Osmiza. They were rather informal affairs almost like crashing someones family backyard party, but we felt welcome at each of them. Parking was on a grassy area in front of a farmhouse. Mostly local families and locals who all seemed to know each other at communal tables. 'Menus" were basically just generic in terms of how you ordered, white wine or red? Liter? Cheese? Yes please. Meat? Yes thank you... and so on. Then plates of local traditional foods would appear magically at your table, sausages, eggs, cured meats, vegetables. The food was tasty and the wine was plentiful and prices were very inexpensive, I think we had a hard time spending over 20 euros for the two of us. It was mostly about just having a different experience and exploring another local culture.