A perfect itinerary traveling among the most fascinating castles in Friuli. Let yourself be seduced and discover this wonderful region.
Squeezed between the Dolomites and the upper Adriatic, set between seas and mountains, Friuli Venezia Giulia due to its position was often an area of conquest and this made it the Italian region with the richest castles and fortifications in the Middle Ages. The castles in Friuli are very numerous, we have chosen for you an itinerary among the most fascinating ones that will allow you both to see wonderful legacies of the past, but also to get to know the Friuli region rich in nature, food and wine specialties and beauties. Come with us among ancient castles in Friuli through a special itinerary.
Castles overlooking the sea or heirs of an imperial past such as the castle of Miramare which hosted Franz Joseph I of Austria and his wife Elisabeth of Bavaria, known as Sissi. Stately homes, courtyards and lounges that in a flash make you imagine ladies and gentlemen intent on dancing or absorbed in gazing at the infinity of the sea. Castles have always aroused fascination and evoke our imagination.
We point out that the Consortium for the Safeguarding of Historic Castles of Friuli-Venezia Giulia has been carrying out the Castelli Aperti initiative for years now, manors, castles, residences, normally closed to the public, are made visitable twice a year in autumn and spring.
Castles in Friuli: Visit Italy itinerary
For our itinerary among the castles in Friuli, the recommended means of transport is the car, a means that will allow you not to have scheduling impediments that could limit visits, but above all to enjoy the freedom to make extra plans in view of a trattoria or a beautiful landscape.
We have thought of a route which, passing through eight stupendous castles, will at the same time allow you to get to know the region from the Adriatic Sea to the Alps. Each castle will give you one more piece to get to know Friuli.
The Visit Italy itinerary among the castles in Friuli starts from the city of Trieste, where the magnificent white castle of Miramare stands, leaving Trieste you will coast along the sea up to the Castle of Duino, a residence overlooking the sea known for having been the residence of the poet Reiner Maria Rilke, from here you will head inland reaching the castle of Gorizia and then Cividale. Finally, head north where you will find the marvelous castle of Villalta and finally the castle of Colloredo di Montalbano, built in the sixteenth century defined as the castle of writers and storytellers. In our itinerary you can also stay overnight in two castles transformed into exclusive residences open to guests.
Therefore, having reached the end of the itinerary, you can decide to continue the journey by moving towards the beautiful Venice, which is always worth a visit.
The roads of Friuli are comfortable and fun and choreographic to travel, an itinerary of castles in Friuli by car will add value to your experience. In Trieste it will be easy to rent one
First stage from Trieste to Duino
The first stage of our itinerary among the castles in Friuli starts from the castle of Miramare. We advise you to start your itinerary in the morning. The beautiful castle of Miramare juts out over the sea and dominates the Gulf of Trieste, the material with which it is built: the white Istrian stone makes it unmistakable and incredibly elegant. Miramare castle was once the private residence of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg, still retains all the original furnishings, inside the castle there is also an eclectic collection that brings together works and styles from all over the world, a collection precious and heterogeneous put together by the archduke who was a passionate collector. Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and his wife Elisabeth of Bavaria, known by all as Sissi, have been guests several times in this majestic white castle. Sissi loved Trieste very much and every time she went there, she stayed in the castle of Miramare. The white castle of Miramare has a vast park of 22 hectares full of precious botanical species, sculptures, fountains, and ponds. Historical Park that has maintained all its beauty since it was conceived around the mid-1800s, thanks to great care.
Even if reluctantly, leave the castle of Miramare behind you and take the coastal road in the direction of the hamlet of Duino until you reach the castle of Duino.
The castle of Duino immersed in nature, between history, culture and nobility will amaze you from afar, it rises on a spur of wild rock, it is the private residence of the princes della Torre and Tasso, it has been open to the public since 2003, from March to the end of October, except Tuesdays. Many exceptional guests have passed in this incredibly beautiful residence: the musicians Strauss and Liszt, Gabriele D' Annunzio, Paul Valery and the Bohemian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, author of the Duinesi Elegies, who take their inspiration from his stay in the castle. More than 18 rooms can be visited and guided tours can be booked (in advance) in various languages. Do not miss the Palladio staircase, the piano where Listz played and the extraordinary panorama that can be admired from the ramparts.
From here you must leave the coast and go inland passing through Ronchi dei Legionari and going towards Gradisca until you reach the castle of Spessa, where we advise you to spend the night. The castle of Spessa is leaning between the hills in a nature that looks like the panorama painted on a painting. Here in your itinerary of the castles in Friuli you can appreciate the beauty of the sunset while enjoying a glass of local wine. Exceptional guests such as Giacomo Casanova have also passed through this castle. The restaurant will satisfy you with regional delights.
Second stage from Gorizia to Cividale
On the morning of the second day, head towards Gorizia, it's a twenty-minute drive from the castle of Spessa. The castle of Gorizia represents the ancient heart of the city whose name it bears, it is located on a hill from which you can appreciate an extraordinary panorama of the city. The castle dates to the 11th century but was modified several times and also used for different functions, from administrative center to barracks up to becoming a prison. Inside, it houses the Gorizia Museum of the Middle Ages, where are interesting reproductions of white weapons used in the medieval period, while in the music room you can appreciate reproductions of ancient instruments, whose melodies can be heard thanks to modern technologies.
From Gorizia take the SR56 heading towards Cividale for an hour, then go towards Rocca Bernarda and you will reach the castle of Rocca Bernarda, between Cividale and Cormòns, it is the first example of a villa castle in Friuli. The fortress has an enviable position among secular cypresses and pleasant vineyards. The building has four cylindrical towers of different shapes, but it has never had a defensive function but was created for private use, a residence of high architectural value born at the behest of the Valvason Maniago counts in the 16th century. A curiosity: the cypress placed at the entrance of the building by virtue of its four centuries of life has been declared a historical monument. Since it's on the road, we suggest you take a short tour of the town of Cividale.
Castles in Friuli: third stage from Villalta to Colloredo di Montalbano
For our last stop, the one further north, we will wander in the countryside north of the city of Udine, not far from San Daniele del Friuli, famous throughout the world for the production of San Daniele raw ham.
Let's start from the castle of Villalta. From Cividale to Villalta you can easily take the state road 54 and in half an hour's drive you will arrive at the castle of Villalta. This castle is in a dominant position on the Friuli plain, surrounded by a double wall. The castle has been besieged, destroyed, and rebuilt several times and had its monumental structure enlarged in the 1500s. An ancient love story continues to hover in the castle and the legend want that on full moon nights a ghost wanders around the battlements of the castle. The castle is the private residence of the Caporiacco family and can be visited by reservation, or it is possible to visit it on the Friulian event Castelli Aperti. The castle park surrounds the walls, and its boundaries are lost on the horizon.
Leaving the castle of Villalta and taking the provincial road 100 in twenty minutes by car you will find yourself in Cassacco. The castle of Cassacco is located along the ancient route that led beyond the Alps, the castle therefore had a defensive function. Arriving at the visitor a magnificent panorama is offered, the castle with its towers and its history behind him the mountains with the almost always snow-capped peaks of the Alps. The castle is composed of two quadrangular towers, the walls are also excellently preserved with the patrol walkways. A story tells that this castle and that of the nearby town of Tricesimo were connected by an underground tunnel. The castle can be visited by appointment.
Also via the provincial road 100 in just nine minutes by car you will be at the castle of Colloredo di Montalbano, from a distance you can already see the tower with the clock, the long straight road that leads to the castle which winds in an enchanting up and down, built in the 500 for exclusively scenography reasons. Defined as the castle of writers and storytellers, here lived, and passed poets and writers, including the great nineteenth-century Italian writer Ippolito Nievo. In the background of the castle, we see the Alps and Pre-Alps, the panoramic position and the surroundings make the castle interesting to visit even only externally.
To conclude this itinerary among the castles on a high note, we recommend that you stay overnight at La Brunelde, a 13th-century fortress owned by the Counts d'Arcano and still inhabited by the original family. Inside the fortress there are still traces of the ancient past, such as the library. On the top floor is the vast room with loopholes and walls painted in red-and-white chess from the early 15th century, in this room you can still hear a two-century-old but still functional piano. Sleeping in this splendid residence steeped in history will add something unforgettable to your journey, but if instead you just want to visit it, the Counts d'Arcano will lead you through the rooms and explain the stories of this house to let you discover how a noble family lived.