The geographical complexity of Friuli-Venezia Giulia – alps, limestone plateau, alluvial plain and shelving coastlands – is mirrored in its social diversity.
This area has always been a bridge between the Mediterranean world and central Europe.
It has been invaded from every direction, by Romans, Huns, Goths, Lombards, Nazis and even the Cossacks. The result is a variety of local flavors: An Alpine, mountainous north; the old peasant culture of Friuli; Venetian Udine; Adriatic Grado; Aquileia, still redolent of its Roman past; and Trieste, the regional capital, shares more with Slovenia than with Italy.
There's no doubt that the people of Friuli have their own ways, traditions, and a strong sense of identity.
The local dialect, friulano, is undergoing something of an official revival. Many road signs are bilingual in Italian and friulano, and studies of the dialect's history and variants are published by the Society Filologica Friulana in Udine.
Tourism is growing. Trieste is convenient to the cave-riven landscape of the Carso; Udine boasts excellent art collections; Cividale del Friuli preserves an historic center and some fascinating Lombard remains.
Aquileia has some of the most important Roman and early Christian remains in Italy, and is fifteen minutes from the lagoon resort of Grado, which conceals a tiny early Christian center amid the beach hotels.