The Friulian village of Venzone stands on the Tagliamento river, near Udine, emerging as a gem of rare beauty in the wonderful alpine landscape.
Immersed in the wonderful North-Eastern alpine landscape, along the Tagliamento river stands Venzone, one of the most beautiful villages in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and among the most fascinating in Italy for its aesthetics, its history and its traditions, especially those related to its two symbols: pumpkin and lavender.
Venzone is a small and ancient village of a few thousand inhabitants in the province of Udine, enclosed like a gem of rare beauty within its fairytale medieval walls. It is no coincidence that since 1965 the whole town has been acknowledged as national monument for its historical and artistic value. But its history, unfortunately, was tragically marked by the terrible earthquake that devastated the region in 1976. Fortunately, today it is still possible to visit the village where and how it was thanks to the accurate reconstruction work: one more good reason to leave right away for a trip discovering this little Italian marvel!
Venzone: one of the most beautiful burgs in Friuli-Venezia Giulia
The medieval village of Venzone rises 230 meters above sea level at the confluence of the Tagliamento valley with the Venzonassa stream. With a rich history behind it, characterized in particular by the influence of the Venetian era, in 1965 the village was declared a National Monument as the only fourteenth-century fortified village in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, as well as one of the most extraordinary examples of restoration in the architectural and artistic field.
In fact, following the seismic phenomena of 1976 which brought this marvel of the Italian Middle Ages to its knees with severe damage, within less than 20 years Venzone literally rose again through the anastylosis restoration methodology, a technique for reconstructing buildings and ancient structures only through the use of the original pieces and materials: exactly as it was and where it was.
You want to find out more, right? So let's check out right away what the history of Venzone tells and the attractions and curiosities kept within its walls!
The history of Venzone
Since 500 BC circa, a time when the Celts inhabited most of the Alpine region, the position of current Venzone represented a key and extremely strategic place for the passage towards North and East through the mountains.
Later, the Romans made it their defensive and control post along the route of the Via Julia Augusta, which from the very important site of Aquileia led to what is now central Austria. However, the first real urban center dates back to a much more distant era, during the Carolingian domination in 923 AD.
In 1200 the Patriarch of Aquileia entrusted the Land of Venzone as a fief to the Mels family, who increased its prestige, and in 1258 Glizoio of Mels had the town fortified with a double walls, preceded by a deep moat, which is still possible today to admire. Control of the walled citadel then passed into the hands of Venice at the end of the 14th century, remaining under the dominion of the Republic until 1797, when it was occupied by Napoleon's French troops.
Finally, in 1866 the town officially became part of the Kingdom of Italy; today, over a century and a half later, we're certainly happy and enthusiastic to boast Venzone among the most beautiful hidden gems in Italy!
The earthquake in 1976
A series of seismic phenomena in 1976, from May to September, severely hit Friuli-Venezia Giulia, seriously damaging the village of Venzone and the entire region.
After less than 20 years, with the strength and will of its inhabitants, the town was reborn thanks to the reconstruction of the town hall in 1984, of the historic center in 1988, but above all with its magnificent cathedral in 1995, from one side a symbol of the earthquake, of its destruction and ruin, but also and above all of rebirth or, better said, of resilience.
The city was rebuilt stone by stone; about 9500 stones were replaced in their place exactly as and where they were, according to the anastylosis method.
The cathedral of Venzone and the historic center
The middle of the village is Piazza del Municipio, characterized by the presence of a fountain in its centre. Overlooking it are the Palazzo Comunale, in Gothic-Venetian style, and Palazzo Radiussi, a luxurious noble residence, both dating back to 1400.
The symbol of the town and its post-earthquake rebirth, however, is its Roman-Gothic cathedral from 1300, the church of Sant'Andrea Apostolo. Venzone is also surrounded by a large moat and an fascinating double walls from 13th century, thus making it the only fortified medieval village in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. If you love history and castles, check out here the most magical in the region!
Furthermore, the beautiful alpine panorama that surrounds Venzone, enriched by the flow of the Tagliamento river, gives the village an authentic fairytale vibe: a perfect setting for an out-of-town trip within an ideal mix of beauties shaped by nature and others, instead, made out of the creativity and work of humans.
The mummies of Venzone
To find mummies it is not always necessary to travel to Egypt, looking for the pyramids and the pharaohs. In the front parvis of the cathedral there's the chapel of San Michele built in 1200 and current seat of the museum dedicated to the Mummies of Venzone, belonging to a period between the 14th and the 19th century.
These mummies were discovered in 1647 during the works of enlargement of the cathedral, and are the result of a mummification process which doesn't come from the intervention of humans, but it's a completely natural phenomenon related to particular environmental conditions that occurred inside of tombs.
The Pumpkin Festival in Venzone
The Pumpkin Festival in Venzone is held on the fourth weekend of October and it is one of the most important pumpkin festivals in Italy. As if by magic, the historic center of the medieval village comes alive thanks to musicians, jugglers, fire-eaters, princesses and knights and sets up everywhere with pumpkins of all kinds.
At the event it is possible to taste pumpkin-based dishes and take part in the contest for biggest pumpkin. The next edition is scheduled for 21 and 22 October 2023, a weekend to be experienced between music, folklore and good food.
The cultivation of lavender in Venzone
Another symbol of Venzone and its territory is certainly lavender, the wonderful flower with an unmistakable purple color and a heady scent, one of the favorite ingredients for the preparation of perfumes, soaps and other cosmetic products.
The Friulian village celebrates the lavender blooming every year, in the month of August, decorating itself with purple and filling its alleys with fantastic fragrances, taking on the appearance of a fairytale setting even more than usual, worthy of the most beautiful fables or the most beautiful paintings.
How to get to Venzone
The simplest way to reach Venzone by car, starting from the provincial capital, is to drive on the SP4 North of Udine, and then the SS13 near Tavagnacco, continuing straight up to your destination.
If instead you leave from Trieste, the ideal way is following the RA13 up to Sistiana, then proceeding on the A4 highway up to Palmanova and on the A23 up to Udine. Here we suggest you enjoy a break like a true local, before continuing your road to Venzone by driving North along the SS13, as previously described.
Leaving from Venice, instead? In this case, starting from the Venetian hinterland you must follow the Mestre beltway until you join the A4 highway driving up to Palmanova and then continue, as before, on the A23 up to Udine and finally on the SP4 and SS13 up to Venzone. Have a good trip!
Travel itinerary from Venzone to Venice with the Venice Pass
Speaking of Venice...we have just learned how to reach Venzone starting from the capital of the Veneto region, but what if we now retrace the journey back in reverse? Yes, here we are departing from Venzone, destination: Venice!
The Serenissima certainly needs no official presentations in terms of beauty, majesty and artistic and cultural richness to discover in every corner of the most admired city on the water all over the world. Do you want to visit the most precious pearl of the Adriatic with a top travel experience? Discover Venice Pass, the perfect city card to access the city's best attractions and explore it as a protagonist!Discover Venice as a protagonist with Venice Pass❯
A final treat on the return way back from Venice
What a sight Venice, huh? If you liked the Venice Pass experience – and we're sure you did! - then we have wonderful news for you: surprises aren't over yet!
After having been so close to the sea, so much that you could almost literally walk on the water in the magic of Venice, perhaps it could be interesting to try pointing and touching the sky with a finger at high altitude. What are we talking about? Reach the car park at the airport Marco Polo: the Cortina Express awaits you, a very comfortable coach journey from the Serenissima that will take you discovering Cortina d'Ampezzo, one of the wonders of the Alps! Find out more by clicking the button below and enjoy your trip to North-Eastern Italy!