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travel_udine

Il Sunday Telegraph celebra la città di Udine
Donald Strachan del Sunday Telegraph dedica una pagina Udine dell’edizione domenicale del prestigioso giornale, e la descrive come una città che nel suo DNA racchiude elmenti di Venezia e Vienna

Locals call it il salotto di Udine, “Udine’s drawing room”, though my map calls it Piazza Matteotti. We grabbed a table just as the bell of San Giacomo struck seven, when the Udinese bring the square to sudden life. Local children made a beeline for the square’s 16th-century fountain while their parents filled the cafés under the mismatched arcades. I picked up a snatch of Friulian dialect here and there, but much more noticeable was a lack of foreign voices.

I had been up early to explore this little mountain-ringed city in north-east Italy and immediately detected more than a hint of Vienna. This area was part of the Austrian Empire between 1797 and 1866 and there’s still a dash of the Habsburg in its thriving café society. The prosperous centre is compact, clean and organised – those Austrians again – with a warren of tiny piazzas and a pleasing ratio of bakeries and butchers to postcard vendors.

Everywhere I walked, I also met Venice, the city that ruled the region for almost 400 years. Piazza della Libertà, Udine’s architectural set-piece, is dominated by the Loggia del Lionello, whose Gothic arcades, dressed in pastel-pink banding, mirror the Doge’s Palace. The Lion of St Mark, symbol of Venice, is carved prominently on Andrea Palladio’s Arco Bollani and the Renaissance Loggia di San Giovanni.

Udine has yet more Venetian DNA, in the shape of the 18th-century painter Giambattista Tiepolo, who, in the 1720s, aged just 30 and still unproven, was summoned to Udine by its then patriarch, Dionisio Delfino. The work he created here in the course of four years catapulted him to superstardom.

We viewed his frescoes and panels in the Gothic Duomo, and then moved to the former Patriarchal Palace, now the Museo Diocesano, which houses the greatest concentration of his work.

Udine is generally delightfully flat and made for pedestrians, but I strode under Palladio’s arch for the short trek up pretty much the only hill, past the 13th-century church of Santa Maria di Castello to the city’s castle. This houses the city’s 13-room Galleria d’Arte Antica, where the highlight is a painting called the Blood of Christ, the work of another Venetian, Vittore Carpaccio, from 1496.

At the Museo del Duomo I jumped back another century, to the frescoes of Vitale da Bologna of Scenes from the Life of St Nicholas, painted as the Black Death raged around him.

Then it was back to Tiepolo at the baroque Oratorio della Purità, a former theatre by the cathedral, which neatly bookends the painter’s career in Italy. He returned to Udine in 1759 with his son Giandomenico to paint a ceiling fresco of the Assumption. A couple of years later, he was called to the Spanish court and died in Madrid.

Having drunk our fill of northern Italian art, we stopped on Via Sarpi for a glass of ribolla gialla, a fine sparkling wine that everyone here knows and appreciates, but which rarely makes it on to the radar of outsiders. Which pretty much sums up this delightful city.

GETTING THERE

Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) flies from Stansted and Birmingham to Friuli Venezia Giulia Airport (Ryanair and others call it “Trieste”), midway between Trieste and Udine; the latter is 26 miles to the north-west.

Bus 51 links the airport with Udine (€3.90/£3.40), with departures approximately hourly (more frequent in the middle of the day). Get off at the terminus, on Viale Leopardi, a short walk from the best central hotels.

There’s also a railway station, Monfalcone, a €15/£13 taxi ride from Arrivals with a direct half-hourly link to Udine.

The information office on Via Savorgnana (closed weekends) is more for residents, so use the Turismo FVG office (Piazza I Maggio 7; 0039 0432 295972; turismofvg.it).

THE INSIDE TRACK

Most of Udine’s best sights are free, including the Duomo and Museo del Duomo (Piazza Duomo). Visits to the Museo Diocesano (Piazza del Patriarcato 1) and Galleria d’Arte Antica (0432 295891) cost €5/£4.40 apiece. Each year between June and December, the latter runs a Tiepolo exhibition on a different theme.

For a Friulian wine tour without leaving the city, head to the lively wine bars of Via Sarpi; try grapes such as schioppettino, an earthy red, and friuliano, an aromatic, light white with a satisfying mineral bite.

Roberto Calasso’s latest book translated into English, Tiepolo Pink, gets under the skin of the last great Venetian painter.

The best stop for a mid-morning cappuccino is the Liberty interior of Contarena (Via Cavour 1).

Don’t play safe with food. Friulian cuisine is far from “standard Italian”, and local gastronomic treats include smoked meats; cjalsons, a hearty variant on ravioli; frico, fried Montasio cheese; and San Daniele, a cured prosciutto much like Parma ham.

Questo l’articolo completo http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/artsandculture/9017512/Udine-Italy-a-cultural-guide.html

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