Archeology, popular tradition, graphics, design, Tiepolo's frescoes ...

Links to theatres in Udine, "Giovanni Da Udine", Theatre Club, Contact...

The "Visionario", a place for culture in the city; cinema, media ...

Library "V. Joppi" historical memory of the city, Modern and Childrens' Sections and ...

Hotels, bed and breakfast, farm stays ...

Udine, a city to discover

panorama - Photo by Ulderica Da Pozzo............... Italians from the South, on the other hand, tend to believe that it is some remote, inaccessible outpost buried somewhere in the mountains, cut off from the outside world. Yet the town of Udine is in fact situated at sea level and has quite a mild climate. With the exception of the hill on which the castle is located, Udine is also flat, making it ideal for bike lovers. The Alps can be seen, but only on the horizon, and are more or less the same distance from the town as the Adriatic Sea, with its popular tourist beaches such as Lignano, Grado and Jesolo. While far from both Rome and Florence, the Slovenian border is only twenty kilometers away, and Austria one hundred.  On the same day you can have breakfast in Udine, lunch in Ljubljana and dinner in Klagenfurt - thus visiting three different countries of the European Union by nightfall! Trieste is just an hour away by train or car, and Venice can be reached in just under two hours. The airport of Friuli is just forty miles away and has three daily flights connecting you to Munich, and from there to the world.

piazza matteotti - Photo by Ulderica Da PozzoUdine may be on the fringes of Italy, but is fairly central within Europe, even if our state railways do not seem to recognize the fact or at least warrant it any consideration. Of course, its centrality is not in itself a reason to visit. But there are many others. First of all, there is the old town which, with its network of medieval streets and elegant buildings, mostly in the Venetian style, is charming and a pleasure to explore.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that at least two of the town’s squares would not be out of place in a list of Italy’s most beautiful Piazzas.

There are civil and religious monuments of all descriptions, such as the Cathedral, whose construction began as early as the fourteenth century, or the Palazzo Antonini, designed by the great Palladio during the Renaissance. There is the castle with its magnificent Romanesque church and square, which overlooks the city and provides panoramic views of the Alps; as if by magic, churches and palazzi open up to reveal splendid courts and cloisters. Some façades retain the frescoes that once decorated the streets of the whole city and if you enter one of the many palazzi in the centre, you can admire the wealth of frescoes that adorn their interiors. There are numerous porticos and loggias to protect pedestrians from the rain – which, to tell the truth, is not something Udine has a shortage of, and these give the city an unmistakable touch of class. The Urban landscape is blessed with numerous beautiful public and private parks as well as man-made water courses that run through the town, creating picturesque canal-side settings.

As soon as one digs deep below the surface, pre-Roman archaeological remains emerge, suggesting the existence of ancient settlements. Everywhere one goes, one finds traces of history.

Many celebrated architects learnt their craft in Udine, right up until the twentieth century, as in the case of Raimondo D'Aronco, who introduced an Italian variant of Art Nouveau. The literary landscape is equally rich and illustrious in its associations. In the eighteenth century, Goldoni sojourned in the town, and in the nineteenth, Ippolito Nievo, author of one of the greatest novels of Italian literature. Many celebrated artists also worked in Udine, among them Vitale da Bologna and Julius Quaglio, but the most important of all was the great Giambattista Tiepolo, who left  his own indelible mark on the town with one of his most important series of frescoes, which can still be admired today in the Palazzo dei Patriarchi. Indeed, no lover of art history could ever get bored in Udine. There are paintings by Carpaccio, Palma il Giovane, as well as other works by the aforementioned Tiepolo, but there are also examples of works by celebrated Italian artists of the 20th century such as Modigliani, Mafai, SavinioDe Chirico, Vedova and Guttuso, and of course the Basaldella brothers, who originated from the town.

facciata museo etnograficoThe network of museums run by the Udine Town Council includes an ethnographic museum, dedicated to Friulian culture and folk traditions,  a gallery housing examples of antique paintings, which is located in the Castle, a modern art gallery, which next year will be transferred to a new purposely restored building in the town centre, and an architecture and design archive. In addition, later this year, the Council will be opening a new museum section in the Castle devoted to the history of the Risorgimento, and next year another dedicated to archaeology. A small photographic gallery and a former 14th century church complete the town’s exhibition space. The latter, a vast and impressive building of great charm and beauty, hosts temporary exhibitions. We also have a large collection of natural history artifacts but unfortunately do not as yet have a venue in which to exhibit them. I addition to the exhibition spaces directly managed by the Udine Town Council, there are also those owned and run by the Church, these include the Cathedral museum (Museo del Duomo) and the Diocesan Museum, whose exhibits include the cycle of frescoes by Tiepolo I mentioned earlier.

Udine boasts a large theatre space, completed in 1997, which seats up to 1200 spectators and is managed by a foundation which includes the Town, Provincial and Regional Councils as members. The theatre season offers a wide variety of opera, music, and theatrical productions and hosts leading Italian and international artists and performers. The Theatre is run by the director and playwright Cesare Lievi, one of the leading names of European theater. Over the past year, under his direction, the theatre, together with a local theatrical company keen to experiment with new forms of artistic expression, has produced several of its own productions, which have subsequently toured throughout Italy.

Udine-Palazzo-PatriarcaleIn 2009, as part of a package of initiatives aimed at promoting the town’s cultural and historical heritage and enhancing tourism to the area, the Udine Town Council launched the Udine città del Tiepolo project. The idea behind the initiative was to create a unique cultural hallmark for the town, one that would become recognizable worldwide. To this end, the Civic Museums produce an annual programme of events celebrating the artist, the highlight of which is an exhibition exploring one particular aspect of the artist. Last year, the focus was on Tiepolo’s sketch work, while the theme of this year’s exhibition, Il giovane Tiepolo: la scoperta della luce, explored the work of the young Tiepolo and was dedicated to his early experiments with light. The exhibition opened on June 4 and will remain open until December 4. To compliment the event, there was a series of concerts celebrating the music of the Baroque period, as well as a host of other initiatives including lectures, seminars and even a staged reading of an imaginary dialogue between Caravaggio and Tiepolo. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners also contributed to the events programme and amongst the many initiatives there was even a cake inspired by the colours and figures painted by Tiepolo.

Udine has been a university town for thirty years and there are now sixteen thousand students enrolled in its ten faculties. This has renewed and enhanced interest in the town and has fostered a series of initiatives aimed at the younger generation. One of these is the Udine Far East Film Festival, now in its 13th year, which is dedicated to popular Asian cinema and is perhaps the most important of its kind in Europe.  With the support of both the Town and Regional councils, the event is organized by a local cultural association, which also runs a multi-screen cinema in the town centre with an adjoining bar and media library. Also in the spring, we have the aptly titled Vicino/Lontano cultural festival - vicino/lontano meaning ‘near’ and ‘far’ - which provides a public forum for debating global contemporary issues, with philosophers, journalists, political scientists, writers, anthropologists and historians among the guest speakers.  The festival, which is run in conjunction with the Premio Tiziano Terzani, a literary prize awarded to a work dedicated to current affairs, is also organized by a local cultural association and supported by public bodies.

Udine is distinguished for its excellent quality of life, as evidenced by its high ranking in quality of life surveys published in national business newspapers, and the localFriuli DOC food and wine certainly have their part to play in this. In mid-September, the old town is transformed when it hosts the annual food and wine festival, Friulidoc, a major event in the local calendar dedicated to regional products, such as the world famous San Daniele ham, Montasio and other local cheeses and, most importantly, the white wines of the Collio, which are not only among the best in Italy, but arguably in the world.

Italian is not the only language spoken in the town. In addition to a variant of the Venetian dialect, Friulian, the historical language of the region, is spoken. Friulian, which is derived directly from Latin, belongs to the group of rhaeto-romance languages and even today is favoured by local writers, filmmakers, playwrights and avant-garde music groups as a language of expression. To celebrate this aspect of Udine’s cultural identity, we will be hosting a music and film festival dedicated to Europe’s minority languages in November.

Cultural, historical and artistic heritage can be important vehicles for promoting tourism and Udine’s film and theatrical events certainly make a significant contribution to the urban economy. Yet, we should not forget that culture has its own innate value - when we refer to culture we speak of the unique identity of a place and of the continual growth and edification of its community. And this is the real value that local authorities must protect and nurture.


Last update : 23/11/11 - Print page Print page