We spent the weekend visiting family in Northern Italy in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. We flew into Venice airport in an hour direct from Stuttgart and rented a car to save time. It didn’t really save time on the way there as we waited for the rental car for over an hour in line, but it was good to have a car to get back on our own. It was only 40 euros for the weekend too, not including gas. The toll road we discovered is another 10 euros, but on the plus side, they take credit cards. The drive from the airport to Gorizia was only 1 1/2 hours.
We met at my cousin’s house for a snack: melon with prosciutto and olives, and a homemade Hugo spritz, then a quick trip to the local market for wine. When we got back, we ate homemade fried sardines, chicken bites and more snacks before heading out to town to a new development on the Sistiana Bay, south of Trieste.
Sistiana Beach – A rocky beach with a harbour, the area just past the public beach where you can rent beach chairs for 25 euros (my cousins think that is ridiculous since it used to be a free, open beach) is being built up with completely new, expensive complexes, complete with infinity pools, shopping and condos. The yacht harbour was beautiful to walk through at night. I would definitely do a week there just to lay at the pools and watch the boats. There were also several bars right on the water with lounges and food.
Grado – The next morning, we got up early to go to Grado for a few hours before heading to see more family the rest of the day. Grado is an hour from Gorizia. There is absolutely no parking there. We arrived at 9 a.m. and had to be dropped off, it took us 30 minutes to walk to where the car was parked when we left. The beach is huge with healing mineral sea water and sand. The water is super shallow for a distance until the drop off, with many sand bars. In the summer of course, it is crowded. There are public areas and areas to go to pay for a sunbed/umbrella that are all clearly marked and sectioned off.
There is a wall along the water with a walking path to go between the two beaches and the old and new towns of Grado have everything you’d expect a beach town to have, only prettier. There is also another beach, my cousins prefer, an hour further south from Grado called Lignano. Maybe next time.
For lunch at the house: huge fresh bufala mozzarella and tomato with basil, Pugliese bruschetta, melon and prosciutto.
My other cousin was making fresh tomato sauce and jarring it for her daughter’s family when we arrived.
How to Make Fresh Tomato Sauce Recipe:
- Boil the whole roma tomatoes until they crack.
- Run them through the tomato grinder into the jar.
- Add whole fresh basil leaves.
- Salt/pepper optional.
- Add olive oil to the top, seal.
- Boil the jar in water for 20 minutes.
After visiting everyone, we went into town to Gorizia to walk around and see the castle before dinner with more family. The restaurant we went to was family owned named Trattoria da Gianni. They are famous for family style portions so large a serving for one can actually serve four people.
After dinner, there was an International Dance Festival going on in the main piazza with traditional dancers from every country. It was a big mix of costumes and entertainment with outdoor grills and a big area for kids rides etc. The next day, there was a parade throughout the streets for the festival too.
The next morning, we all rode bikes through the vineyards a short distance from my cousins house to a winery overlooking the countryside. My bike had a basket so I was happy. I am not however, a fan of casual riding, or going down hills. Adjusting my settings to the hardest level made it better to ride. The vineyards were beautiful and for four glasses of wine with a prosciutto or salami snack it was only 8 euro.
We headed back to Venice airport with a plan to return again in November so we can plan ahead and get a checked bag to bring back more wine.
Tip – Box wine is the next big thing in Italy – only it is actually local, high quality wine, with a better seal for travel.
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