Discover an unsung jewel of Italy
DAY 1: Arrival day in Venice
DAY 2: Day on the Adriatic Sea
DAY 3: Collio wine tour and tasting
DAY 4: Mosaics, prosciutto experience
DAY 5: Roman jewel of Aquileia
DAY 6: Udine with the most beautiful piazza in Italy
DAY 7: Gorizia, Gradisca d’Isonzo
DAY 8: Departure Day
Planning to spend more time in Italy before or after the tour? This is an excellent region if you are looking to visit other regions in Northern Italy. Audrey offers extensions to Croatia, Slovenia, Austria & Germany.
A travel experience like no other
- Experience a delightful journey enjoying Italy with the locals
- Intimate group size of 7/8 like-minded travelers
- Explore unique places your friends have never been to
- Sample some of Italy’s most distinguished wines
- Savor traditional meals with a variety of local recipes
- Boutique experiences in off the beaten path locations
NEXT CHANCE TO GO: September 12 to 19, 2022
PRICING: From $3,500USD pp (double occupancy)
Arrival airport: Venice Marco Polo (VCE) or Trieste Airport (TRS)
8 days/7 nights (7 nights in Buttrio, Friuli Venezia Giulia)
Are you looking for a holiday in beautiful Italy off the main tourist trail? You found it!
Your first question is undoubtedly "Where on earth is Friuli Venezia Giulia?" It may be hard to believe, but there are still fantastic places in Italy that are not overrun with travelers. Relatively unknown outside Europe, Friuli Venezia Giulia is a wonderful place with incredible food and wines. The New York Times called it "Italy’s secret garden".
With five languages, four national parks, cultured cities, sandy beaches and Alpine mountains, fascinating history, exceptional walking, gorgeous towns and fabulous food and wines, the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia has all the ingredients for an unforgettable vacation. With its mountains, plains and seashores, all less than an hour's drive apart, Italian writer Ippolito Nievo fondly described Friuli as a "little compendium of the universe". The only thing missing are the tour buses!
Day by Day Itinerary
DAY 1: Monday - ARRIVAL DAY
Upon your arrival, your host will pick you up at the airport (Venice or Trieste), and bring you to your picturesque Italian countryside accommodations near Buttrio known as "La città del Vino", your home for the duration of your vacation with us. After a warm welcome by your host, and some time to get settled, enjoy a visit to the cellars and vineyards of a nearby winery followed by a delectable Italian dinner. Over the next amazing days you can look forward to sampling the wonders of this exceptional region.
DAY 2: Tuesday - REDIPUGLIA, MIRAMARE CASTLE, TRIESTE
On the way to Miramare Castle, visit the World War One memorial of Redipuglia, one of the largest in Europe. Next, visit Miramare Castle, where Charlotte of Belgium and Maximilian of Hapsburg spent the few happy years of their lives.
After lunch, enjoy a guided tour of Trieste, the capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia, set between the blue waters of its gulf, the green hills and white rocks of the Carso Plateau. The city bears hardly any resemblance to other Italian cities. Having being governed by the Habsburgs for centuries, here you can feel a typically “Mitteleuropean” atmosphere, and its stunning buildings, historical cafés and the cuisine have retained all the charms of that era. On the top of San Giusto Hill, you will admire the remains of the Roman basilica and the beautiful Cathedral.
Break for a coffee in one of the many historical cafés of Trieste, meeting point of writers and intellectuals.
DAY 3: Wednesday - CIVIDALE DEL FRIULI
After breakfast, we spend the morning at Cividale del Friuli, a UNESCO heritage village, known for its lovely atmosphere when strolling around the narrow cobble-stone streets leading to the charming main square. Beforehand, we enjoy a visit to a local producer of the Friulian cake, "gubana". Upon arrival in the town, we enjoy a guided tour and visit the main attractions such as the Devil's Bridge, Piazza Paolo Diacono and the Longobard Temple.
In the afternoon, after lunch in a lovely local restaurant, we visit a distillery in Nimis for grappa tasting, and close out the day with a tasting in the famed Collio wine region.
DAY 4: Thursday - SPILIMBERGO, SAN DANIELE DEL FRIULI, VALVASONE
Today, enjoy a guided tour of the frescoed buildings, the Cathedral and the famous Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli, the mosaic school that has fostered artists from all over the world.
In the afternoon enjoy an excursion to San Daniele, well known for the incomparable taste of its exquisite prosciutto, which is said to be the most delicate in all of Italy. After sampling this prosciutto in a local restaurant, we visit a prosciutto producer.
Before returning to Buttrio, we stop in Valvasone, one of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy, with the typical medieval lanes, the Castle and the Cathedral, where a wonderful Venetian sixteenth organ is preserved.
DAY 5: Friday - AQUILEIA
After breakfast, we head off to departure to Aquileia (UNESCO heritage site) for a guided visit of this Roman jewel, the most important archaeological site in northern Italy. You'll see the forum, remains of public baths and private houses, Roman roads with visible chariot tracks and the ancient Basilica which hosts stunning Byzantine frescoes and one of the largest and most spectacular early-Christian mosaic floors of Western Europe! Savor lunch in a local restaurant with appetizers and samplings of local delicacies and wine.
On the way back, we stop at a family-run balsam producer located in the hills of the Colli Orientali del Friuli in a typical Friulian farmhouse, specially renovated to create an Asperum house. Enter the musty aging rooms between the barrels to discover the unique and artisanal processing method of the balsamic Asperum. Then sit down at a table in the welcoming tasting room and taste the various Asperum condiments, at different stages of the natural ripening process, accompanied with typical local cheeses, chocolate and local wines.
DAY 6: Saturday - UDINE
Today, we visit Udine, the historical and geographical heart of Friuli. With your local guide, we visit the main monuments: Piazza Libertà, the city’s “living room” in typical Venetian style, Via Mercato Vecchio, with its elegant shops, Piazza San Giacomo, where the locals gather in the surrounding cafés, and the Archbishop Palace, where you can admire the masterpieces by Gianbattista Tiepolo, a painter that started off in Udine and became known as a young and gifted talent.
Spend the afternoon at your leisure, shopping at the beautiful boutique shops in town.
DAY 7: Sunday - GORIZIA, GRADISCA D’ISONZO
After breakfast, we depart for Gorizia to discover the footprints of the ancient Austrian aristocracy. With your local guide you will visit the main monuments such as Piazza della Vittoria and the church dedicated to St. Ignatius, with its distinctive onion-shaped bell towers. All around you, you will see damage sustained during the First World War. Not to be missed is a visit to Piazza della Transalpina, where you can still see traces of the local “Berlin Wall”, which divided the city between Italy and Slovenia (once part of Yugoslavia).
After lunch, embark on a guided tour of Gradisca d’ Isonzo, a town-fortress that was erected by the Venetians in 1479 against the attacks by the Turks. Before returning to your accommodations visit a local cheese producer for a tour and tasting.
DAY 8: Monday - DEPARTURE DAY
Transfer to the airport included for today.
On this day you may choose to fly back home (included transfer to Marco Polo Airport), spend a few days in Venice, take a Prosecco hills tour with me, spend a few days in Slovenia or extend your vacation for another 4 days in Croatia. I can also help you with a private tour itinerary for an extension into Austria and Germany.
Stunning locations, historical cities & charming villages
With its pristine forests, aqua-colored lakes, national parks, and the majestic peaks of the Friulian Dolomites, Friuli allows you to experience nature in its purest state. Because we average just 4 to 8 guests on each vacation, our footprint is small. We can take our time and appreciate the wonders around us.
- Visit Cividale del Friuli, a UNESCO world heritage site founded by Julius Caesar in 50BCE
- Tour the opulent rooms of Miramare Castle where Charlotte of Belgium and Maximilian of Hapsburg spent the happiest years of their lives
- Visit Gorizia and its Piazza della Transalpina, where you can still see traces of the local “Berlin Wall”, which divided the city between Italy and Slovenia
- Participate in a mosaic workshop at a world-famous mosaic school in Spilimbergo, a charming medieval hamlet
- Follow in the steps of the Romans in Aquileia including the magnificent Basilica, which contains the largest mosaic floor of the early Christian age in Western Europe
- Visit Trieste, the little Vienna by the sea
- Visit Udine, the historical capital of Friuli with what is considered to be the most beautiful piazza in all of Italy
- Enjoy guided walks with your host on one of the many hiking trails in the Julian Alps, Carnian Alps and Friulian Dolomites
Savor regional foods
The food of Friuli is as diverse as the region itself. Friuli also produces some of Italy's finest ingredients, particularly San Daniele ham and Montasio cheese, while the farmers’ markets of Gorizia and Pordenone are legendary.
- Stop at one of the few laboratories in Italy where you can take a journey into the world of chocolate from seed to chocolate from seed to confection
- Visit a farm to taste the local cheese of the region
- Soak up the atmosphere in small traditional trattorias, called osmize or frasca, that only the locals know about
- Discover why Friuli is called "Heaven for white wine lovers"
- Embark on a sensory journey at a family-run Acetaia for a tour and tasting of balsamic vinegar made from Refosco and Friulan grates and aged in barrels of different precious woods
- Visit a local Gubana producer to learn all about the typical Friulian cake
- Learn all about Grappa followed by a tasting at one of the oldest distilleries in Friuli
- Taste the famous D.O.P. San Daniele ham at a local producer
- Enjoy the Habsburg café culture by sipping coffee in one of the historical cafes in Trieste, a meeting point of writers and intellectuals
- Unwind for 7 nights in charming, hand-picked accommodations that offer Italian hospitality, comfort and local character (standard rooms, including daily breakfast)
- Relax in the care of your host, Audrey, who is fluent in Italian and English
- Private transfers to and from Venice Marco Polo airport
- Private transportation for the duration of your tour
- All entrance fees for excursions
- Hand-picked experiences and insider access to the Italian way of life
- Information packet before departure
- Taxes & Fees: Local VAT taxes and government fees, City Tax, gas, highway tolls, city access licenses and permits, parking fees
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
- Passport fees, visa fees, immunization costs, entry clearing fees (when applicable)
- Optional enhancements like room upgrades
- Additional sightseeing, activities and experiences outside of your itinerary
- Early check-in or late check-out from hotels
- Personal charges such as laundry, phone calls, SIM cards or room service
- Lunches, dinners and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), unless specified in the itinerary
- Travel insurance (strongly recommended)
- Your international airfare
- Porterage: Please note that you'll need to carry your own luggage up and down stairs at hotels and across cobblestone.
OUR GOLD STANDARD
We've personally tried, tasted and tested every single experience, ensuring quality and authenticity. If it doesn’t meet our personal Stamp of Approval, it won’t be on your tour! Zero tourist traps, subpar service, or second rate food.
Activities to Consider
Want to do more? Do you have specific interests? If any of the additional activities listed here capture your interest, just ask Audrey!
Some of the most treacherous battles of WWI took place in the Italian mountains. The battles in the mountains and valleys bordering Slovenia and Austria, were like nothing the world had ever seen or has seen since.
Sip your way along the Strada del Vino
The Strada del Vino, a wine route of Friuli's Super Whites Wine Area, which is an area focused on a small group of high-quality wineries. Here, you will find wines inspired with the tastes of Chardonnay, Malvasia Istriana, Riesling, Pinto Grigio, Sauvignon, Tocai and more—all inspired by the Celt, Roman and Austro-Hungarian influences in the region and resulting in a delicate and tasty recipe. Colli Orientali D.O.C. (controlled designation of origin) area produces among the most prestigious wines in the world.
Grape Harvest Experience
Partake in the grape harvest in the Colli Orientali D.O.C. (controlled designation of origin) area, that produces among the most prestigious wines in the world (for vacations in late August into September only).
This is also the best time of the year to discover the wineries and meet its passionate winemakers. The fragrance of the grapes will enchant and awake your five senses.
Olive Harvest Experience
Olives are harvested between the end of October and the beginning of November, and cold pressed on the same day of the harvest. In the morning, pick your olives (2 to 3 hours), followed by lunch with the owners, and in the afternoon partake in the actual production of olive oil! Sample the fruits of your labor: an excellent oil with a golden green color, characterized by an intense fruity aroma and an unmistakable taste: hints of fresh grass, almond and artichoke notes with an initially pleasant sweet taste, followed by a bitter spicy aftertaste. Don't forget to take home a bottle or two!
Truffle Hunting Experience
Available from Fridays to Sundays, from 1st October to 31st December.
Full Day Excursions
Full-day excursion to either Slovenia or Austria, give you the possibility of tasting the gastronomic specialties of these neighboring areas, which have for many centuries influenced the cuisine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
SLOVENIA: located only 20 minutes away from the estate, Slovenia is a small country renowned for its beautiful coast and charming little port towns, stunning caves, characteristic alpine lakes and a wonderful middle European capital. Our day in Slovenia includes a visit to the spectacular Postojna cave complex, which can be explored partly on foot and partly by electric train, and a visit to Ljubljana, Slovenia's attractive medieval and cosmopolitan capital. We'll visit the cathedral, the Triple Bridge, the famous open market and the medieval historic center before heading back to your accommodations in Friuli in the late afternoon.
AUSTRIA: the Austrian border is only one-hour drive from your accommodations, so let's take a chance to spend a fantastic day in Carinthia, visiting the enchanting medieval town of Villach full of shops, lovely courtyards and outdoor cafés where you can savor the exquisite Austrian cakes. After lunch (not included) a short drive will take us to the charming lakeside town of Velden, Carinthia's most elegant holiday resort. We'll have some time to stroll along the splendid promenade and take an optional boat ride for a delightful cruise on the calm waters of Lake Wörth, against a backdrop of snowy peaks. Return to your accommodations in Friuli in the late afternoon.
Travels with Audrey RECOMMENDS YOU BOOK EARLY Hotel availability may occasionally be an issue due to popularity, capacity of unique accommodations, and/or high season. A supplemental fee may be applied if our normal set of hotels in each city is not available. Hotels are booked based on availability at time of booking. If a specific hotel is not available, a similar quality or location will be chosen. Your hotels will be finalized about 90 days prior to the tour (after receipt of full payment) and will be available in your pre-tour documents mailed to you within 30 days prior to your tour.
There is frequent confusion over the terminology used for hotel rooms. A “double” room is recognized as meaning a room with a double bed, which may be two single beds pushed together. A “twin” room is a room with two single beds. A “single” room tends to be smaller than double or twin rooms. Triples are usually two-bedded rooms plus a roll-away cot and not recommended for comfort. Some properties offer 1 double and 1 single bed, or 1 double and 1 pull out sofa
Please note that the hotel staff assigns rooms to guests. Some rooms may include stairs. A specific view is not guaranteed. As we work mainly with luxury historic inns and small upscale boutique hotels, rooms differ in size and layout. In general, Italian bedrooms and bathrooms are smaller compared to US standards. Each room has its own en-suite bathroom with shower and/or tub, hair-dryer, and basic toiletry set. Please contact us if you have specific requests/needs.
Prepare for Your Trip
European travel in general involves a lot of walking, much more than we are used to in the US. Most of our tours include city walking tours, visits to hilltop towns and villages, and meandering through cobbled streets. Keeping active and incorporating long walks into your busy schedule in the weeks before your departure will make your vacation much more rewarding.
- Don’t Overpack: A challenge even for some experienced travelers! Plan to wash or dry clean some clothes during your travel. Some hotels and villas we choose offer laundry and dry cleaning services and towns and cities have laundromats. Most also provide hair dryers. Toiletries and cosmetics can also be purchased at your destinations. Please contact us if you need some assistance.
- It is your responsibility to obtain the required documents to travel to Europe. Please verify with your own country's travel laws and government agencies. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after your return date.
The first day on tour is your arrival day into the city in which we meet. So you would be flying no later than the day before from the United States or Canada. It is your responsibility to get to the city and hotel where and when the tour begins. When making flight arrangements, please allow sufficient time to claim luggage and clear customs in order to join the tour on time. For all recommended pre-designed tour packages, we meet for our first orientation walk of the tour at 3:00PM (15:00) on tour start date in the hotel lobby. The tour ends when you check out of the hotel on your last day on tour.
Note: Please make note or inquire with us as to the meeting time on that first day on tour. This should be done prior to you making any flight or train bookings so that it is clearly understood that the arrangements will fit in with our times. Your train or flight should arrive between 09:00AM and 12:00PM-noon (no later) on Day 1 of the tour to allow you enough time to check in to your hotel, freshen up and meet for the orientation walk with our other group guests.
Remember, airfare is a completely separate arrangement from your land tour. It is your responsibility to arrive at the point of tour origination.
- All prices are subject to change until a deposit has been made for your tour. Please bear in mind that each hand-crafted pre-packaged itinerary showcased on the website represents a typical itinerary, and the actual details may vary due to season and special events. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances may arise. Itinerary changes are also made to improve the tour and your experience. Prices are subject to change with global exchange rates. Please be aware that equivalent dollar costs are based on exchange rates and are contingent upon a fluctuating currency market.
- All quoted prices are subject to changes based on Euro dollar/US dollar exchange rate, until balance is paid. Once the deposit has been received, the price is locked, regardless of exchange fluctuations prior to the tour . Variations in price will be made only if Euro value increases 5% or more from the time of reservation to the time that balance is due. Any variations in price, which may or may not increase your balance, will be communicated by email.
- Air Conditioning: Hotels and mini-buses/vans used are air-conditioned for your comfort. European air conditioning should be considered as a climate-control system; most have three settings for the fan, plus a "cool" setting. Very few of the European systems actually have a temperature setting. In general, the amount of cool air that is produced from a European air conditioning system may be less than what you may have in your own home. Some hotels in Europe do not operate their air conditioning systems on a year round basis, but only during certain months of the year.
- Mobility: All of our tours involve walking and require our guests to board and disembark our vehicles several times a day making this tour unsuitable for those with reduced mobility. You must be able to walk up and down hills, on uneven surfaces and stand for extended periods of time.
- Itinerary Changes and Price Flexibility: We pledge to make every effort to operate all pre-designed tours as advertised. We reserve the right to alter or curtail the itinerary, or substitute sightseeing, hotels, and/or transportation as deemed necessary.
Please note: while we do our best to adhere to our published itineraries, they may be changed at the discretion of the tour leader (local host) due to weather conditions and any other unforeseeable circumstances.
- Holiday and Museum Closures: Museum visits and personal shopping time may be disrupted due to unforeseen circumstances or the many state, religious and civic holidays locally observed.
- NO SMOKING: Sorry but there will be no-smoking allowed in the vehicle or during guided tours. Italy, France and Spain have banned smoking in all public buildings, including hotels and restaurants (enclosed spaces only, with the exception of sitting outdoors while eating). Some hotels may be able to provide smoking rooms if necessary. You will need to let Audrey know ahead of time.
- Currency and Exchange Rates: The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany. Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange bureaus and at most of the hotels listed on your itinerary, though you will get a better exchange rate at the banks. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Travelers’ checks are less accepted, especially by local merchants; expect to pay a fee for using travelers’ checks. Foreign currency is not accepted.
- Your Credit and Other Bank Cards Abroad: Before your departure, we recommend you contact your bank before departing on your vacation to inform them of your travel plans to ensure that your ATM, credit and debit cards will work and continue to work while you are abroad. The banks have automated security measures in place that flag transactions outside your normal spending patterns. Failure to do so may result in a temporary freeze being placed on your account.
- VAT: Many countries levy Value Added Taxes (VAT) on consumer goods and services. (The tax rate may be higher for luxury items and lower for basic goods.) As a rule, if you are not a resident of the country (or of the country’s intergovernmental economic community, e.g., the European Union) in which the purchase is made, you may be entitled to a VAT refund and should inquire about the refund policy where you shop.
- Electrical Current: The electrical current in France, Italy and Spain is 220 V, 50 Hz, AC. If your electrical devices do not conform to this standard, you may need to bring the appropriate converters and adapters.
- Even though tips to guides, staff and restaurants are included, it is suggested that you put aside approximately $100 (US) in combined gratuities for your driver & tour leader for your trip (and any voluntary additional restaurant gratuities are at your discretion).
The purchase of TRAVEL INSURANCE is strongly recommended to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. A Protection Plan can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.
Discover the Authentic Experiences You've Been Searching For
Local living and boutique hotels - Where you stay matters
All seven nights of your trip will be spent in a beautiful wine area of Friuli. We believe that where you sleep is an important part of your overall travel experience. We choose truly special and unique locations, that reflect authentic local charm.
Pre & Post Tour Options
This is an excellent region if you are looking to visit other countries or regions in Northern Italy during your holiday. From Friuli, you can visit Austria, Slovenia & even Croatia, with just a few hours' drive. And you are only 120 km (74 miles) away from the scenic canals of Venice. Here are a few options to consider:
The Soul of Venice
4 days/3 nights
Beauties of Northern Croatia
5 days/4 nights
Gems of Slovenia
4 days/3 nights
What Audrey's clients are saying...
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