Udine in un giorno? si può!- Piazza dell libertà- Udine- Loggia di San Giovanni- Torre dell'Orologio- Fontana del Carrara- Statua Ercole- Statua Caco

Exploring the Charming Friulian City

Are you wondering if it’s possible to see Udine in just one day? Dive into our article and discover the absolute must-sees in this beautiful Friulian city!

Friuli is a captivating land rich in history and boasting a cuisine that rivals any other region. At its heart lies Udine, often underrated by tourists who favor more famous destinations like Aquileia, Palmanova, and Cividale. Fortunately, we almost made the same mistake but decided to spend an extra day in Udine on our way back from Trieste. Trust us; we have no regrets!

During our visit, we unearthed the city’s ancient origins, possibly linked to the pre-Roman cult of the Undine Nymphs. Udine gained prominence in the Middle Ages as Aquileia and Cividale declined. In the 15th century, it fell under Venetian rule, expanding and embellishing to become the Republic’s fifth most populous city. The Savorgnan family, whose emblem still symbolizes the city, controlled Udine during the Venetian era.

Udine played a significant role in World War I, hosting the Italian army’s supreme command until the Caporetto defeat, earning the moniker “Capital of the War.”

Now, let’s guide you on what to do in Udine in one day!

What to see in Udine: The Diocesan Museum and Tiepolo Galleries

Udine’s medieval old town is easily explored on foot. We parked at Piazza I Maggio, a few meters from the city’s main attractions and the well-stocked tourist office. Before delving into the medieval center, we visited the Diocesan Museum, not for a particular love of sacred art, but for the Tiepolo Galleries. These galleries compelled us to spend our final day enjoying Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Tiepolo, an 18th-century Venetian artist, masterfully frescoed much of the Palazzo Patriarcale‘s noble floor, now housing the museum. From the Scalone d’Onore to the Galleria degli Ospiti and the Sala Rossa, we were captivated by Tiepolo’s depiction of scenes from the Old Testament. Between galleries, we lingered in the museum’s rich Library, a triumph of baroque wooden craftsmanship adorned with allegorical figures.

What to see in Udine - Diocesan Museum - Red Room - Gianmbattista Tiepolo - Frescoes - Patriarchal Palace
Red Hall of the Patriarchal Palace (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

The museum’s lower floor showcases a section dedicated to the rich heritage of wooden sculpture from Udine’s diocesan churches. Here, we witnessed the evolution of this ancient art in the region.

What to see in Udine:  Piazza della Libertà

Our one-day Udine tour continued from Porta Manin, the city’s oldest gate and the last remnant of its medieval walls. Through it, we wandered the historic center’s streets until reaching Piazza della Libertà, also known as the most beautiful Venetian-style square on the mainland. Nestled at the foot of the castle hill, this square epitomizes the refinement and style exported by the Venetian Republic.

Monuments of Piazza della Libertà

Monuments in Piazza della Libertà include the elegant Carrara Fountain and the column with the Lion of St. Mark. In the background, the Loggia di San Giovanni, topped by the beautiful Clock Tower, left us enchanted. At the raised end, two imposing statues of Hercules and Cacus, affectionately nicknamed by the locals as Florean and Venturin, caught our eye. Nearby stands the Monument to Peace, carrying even deeper significance in this Italian region. The fine gravel on the ground adds to the charm, reminiscent of the era of its construction.

What to see in Udine - Loggia of San Giovanni - Piazza della Libertà - Clock Tower - Statue of Hercules
Loggia of San Giovanni, Clock Tower and Statue of Hercules (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Moving to the opposite side, we explored the Loggia del Lionello’s portico, distinguished by the colors of its stones. Once the seat of the Municipal Palace for centuries, it boasts numerous busts, unique items like an antique thermometer, and cast-iron meteorological instruments. A popular meeting spot for locals, it offers refuge during the hottest summer hours.

What to see in Udine - Piazza della Libertà - Loggia del Lionello - Porticoes - arches - columns - capitals
Porticoes of the Loggia del Lionello (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

What to see in Udine: Santa Maria di Castello Church and the Castle

Ascent to the Castle

Our Udine day tour led us to the Udine Castle atop the hill dominating the city. To reach it, we passed through the Arco Bollani, an architectural monument beside Piazza della Libertà, designed by Andrea Palladio in the 16th century. Three paths branch out: a steep staircase on the left, a drivable road in the middle, or the Lippomano Portico. The latter, a long portico in Venetian Gothic style, with ramps and steps, provides sheltered ascent from the weather or heat.

Climb to the Castle - Portico del Lippomano - Arco Bollani - Pebbles
Climb to the Castle and portico of Lippomano (Credit to Stefano Merli -on visualhunt CC-BY-SA)

Santa Maria di Castello

At the portico’s end stands the Church of Santa Maria di Castello, the city’s oldest place of worship. Believed to be built in the Lombard era on an ancient pagan site, it underwent significant restoration and expansion over the centuries. The church merits exploration, especially for the 14th-century fresco of the Deposition from the Cross in the apse.

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Interior of the Church of Santa Maria di Castello

The Castle and Civic Museums

We then reached the Castle’s esplanade, offering a stunning panorama of the city and the Alps.

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Castle Square

The Renaissance palace houses some of the city’s Civic Museums, including:

  1. The Archaeological Museum, displaying artifacts from prehistory to the Roman era, mostly from Aquileia.
  2. The Gallery of Ancient Art, featuring works by local and non-local artists who worked in Udine between the 15th and 18th centuries. Notable artists include Giambattista Tiepolo, Caravaggio, and Vittore Carpaccio.
  3. For photography enthusiasts, the Friulian Photography Museum exhibits a rotating selection of 100 photos from its collection.
  4. The Risorgimento Museum, reopened in 2013 with multimedia displays, traces the Risorgimento period in the Friuli region.

While one day doesn’t allow visiting them all, you’ll surely find one that aligns with your interests.

What to see in Udine: The Cathedral

After the Castle visit, we headed to Udine’s Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Annunziata. Approaching, we noticed the octagonal, stout bell tower. Historical records suggest it was intended to be taller, but the architect faced high costs and a lack of construction materials. The cathedral’s exterior intrigued us with its fusion of Romanesque and Gothic styles, evident in the richly decorated facade and three portals.

What to see in Udine- Duomo- Cathedral- Facade- Romanesque- Gothic
Udine Cathedral (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

nside, baroque dominates, especially in the side chapels adorned with works by prominent Udine and Venetian Republic artists from the 17th and 18th centuries. Giambattista Tiepolo, commissioned by Patriarch Daniele Dolfin, contributed to these chapels, much like in the Palazzo del Patriarca.

What to see in Udine: Piazza Matteotti (San Giacomo) and the Tajut Tradition

Continuing our one-day exploration of Udine, the city surpassed our expectations, radiating tranquility and a welcoming atmosphere.

Our journey led us to Piazza Matteotti, affectionately known by locals as Piazza San Giacomo. This charming square serves as a nostalgic hub, surrounded by historic porticoes and buildings adorned with remnants of ancient frescoes. The backdrop is the San Giacomo church, commissioned by the furriers’ confraternity, featuring additions like an ornate clock and statues of the four cardinal virtues. The 16th-century fountain and a column with the statue of the Virgin and Child grace the square’s interior.

What to see in Udine- Piazza San Giacomo-Piazza Matteotti- Portici- Tajut rite- Church of San Giacomo-
Piazza San Giacomo (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Beyond its aesthetic allure, Piazza San Giacomo takes center stage in Udine’s Tajut tradition—a Friulian aperitif rarely skipped by locals. Immerse yourself in the local ambiance, sipping wine and indulging in a rich platter of typical cured meats and cheeses.

Udine’s Osterias and Culinary Delights

To truly grasp Udine in a day, a culinary exploration is essential. Traditional osterias beckon, offering a myriad of delectable dishes. Noteworthy among them are Cjarsons, ravioli with a delightful blend of savory and sweet flavors. For a quintessential Friulian experience, savor Frico—a savory tart with Montasio cheese, potatoes, or onions. Pair both dishes with a crisp white wine, preferably Friuli Aquileia Chardonnay DOC, produced in Udine’s vicinity.

Understanding the Friulian spirit necessitates embracing the local gastronomy. With numerous delectable options, each dish offers a unique culinary experience. Conclude your meal with Strucchi, sweet treats filled with raisins, nuts, pine nuts, sugar, and grappa—a perfect memento of the city.

Our hope is that this article convinces you not to miss the chance to explore Udine in a day. Should you choose to stay longer, we wish you a delightful and enriching visit!

If the allure of Udine entices you to extend your stay, consider lodging in the city’s best accommodations at unbeatable prices. Click here for a tempting array of options.

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Article Name
What to see in Udine
Discover what to see in Udine in just one day! Uncover the city's hidden gems and must-visit attractions with our guide
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La Scimmia Viaggiatrice