Time travel in real: the UNESCO cities of Palmanova, Cividale and Aquileia

The soil here in Friuli-Venezia Giulia is steeped in history. Not only our sunny island itself, but the whole area around Grado is practically overflowing with cultural wealth. Wherever you go, you will find (silent) witnesses of the past and imposing remains of past empires. An autumn holiday in Grado is made for endless rambles, long city walks and discovery tours into the past. So, are you coming? Today we'll show you the UNESCO-listed towns of Cividale, Palmanova and Aquileia.

Aquilieia Cividale del Friuli - Devil's Bridge

Aquileia - the better Rome?

The year was 186 BC: Celtic settlers settled on the river Natissa, about 10 kilometres from the Grado lagoon, and founded a settlement. Their happiness here was not to last long. In the confusion of the Roman-Gallic War, the general Marcus Claudius Marcellus expelled the Celts and made Aquileia a Roman city. Its location is perfect and so Aquileia will remain one of the most important transport metropolises in Europe until the Middle Ages. We don't want to hide from you the fact that this area was actually already settled in the early Iron Age and also played an important role in modern times. It's just that if we wanted to tell the whole story of Aquileia, we'd still be sitting here the day after tomorrow. And some historians even think that Aquileia was as important as Rome. At least. That's why we can only warmly recommend it to you: Come and see this splendour live and in colour. Since 1998, the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta with its enchanting mosaic floors has been one of Italy's 58 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Cividale del Friuli - a multi-metropolis for centuries 

All out, we are in the year 776 AD. The Lombard Empire has to admit defeat to the Franks of Charlemagne. The city of Friuli, located about 50 kilometres north of Grado, is henceforth called Civitas Austriae - the city of the East. From this, in turn, Cividale (Italian), Cividât (Furlanian) and Östrich (German) have developed over time. This colourful mixture of names is a nice sign of the cultural richness of this city. Here you can not only stroll over to Slovenia, but also marvel at the legendary Devil's Bridge with its mysterious vaulted cellar. This still raises questions: Is it a Celtic storage cellar, a Roman dungeon or a prison of the Lombards? Also worth a visit: the National Archaeological Museum on the Piazza del Duomo. It houses part of the Reichenau writings, which are part of UNESCO's World Documentary Heritage.

Palmanova: round thing and baroque bulwark
Welcome to the year 1593! It is the 7th of October and it is an exciting day! The city of Palmanova is officially inaugurated. The Republic of Venice has gone to great lengths to make this fortified city as imposing and effective as possible to protect it from the Turks. Today we know: The good Venetians overdid it a bit, especially the huge main square, which is discreetly too big for the city, which is quite manageable overall. Either way, the "Palm", as the city is called in Furlan, is regarded as the ideal of baroque urban planning and is still an impressive testimony to historical architecture. UNESCO also saw it that way and in 2017 awarded the city, which lies about 30 km from Grado, the title of "World Heritage Site".


Want to enjoy more culture in Grado? Take a look here. There you'll find lots of information about the country, sights and people.

Palmanova del Friuli bird's eye view
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