I’ve been a little overwhelmed trying to organize all of the good stuff from our recent bike trip to the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, and now that we are friends with the region, we can call her by her first name, Friuli. I’m just going to give you some highlights, but this is one curiously under-visited part of Italy. It’s physically beautiful with its northern boundary of mountains, and you are never far from the sea so you can find fish AND meat on the same menu! See what living in fish deprived Umbria can do to you. Friuli is also a great wine producing area and although it’s known for their white wine, in the past few years, the reds have dramatically improved.
We rolled into the capital city of Udine on a Saturday night and let me tell you, Udine knows a thing or two about having fun on a Saturday night. The streets and bars were just crammed with people, mostly young people out to have a good time.
We discovered the Café Contarena; housed in an old converted bank, right off the Piazza del Liberta and we treated ourselves to the most delicious Manhattan cocktail that we’ve ever had in Italy. A near perfect Manhattan, made all the more enjoyable by the excellent music the DJ was turning out. I would give my heart and soul to have access to this dude’s music library. How delicious is the first evening of a vacation, when you have the whole week ahead of you? What better way to start our bike-food-wine adventure than by sipping a well made cocktail, surrounded by all sorts of interesting looking people.
But one cocktail is the limit and now we needed food. Turned out that it’s far, far easier to get a drink than it is to find a restaurant.
We finally found an osteria, and we began by eating the prosciutto….oh my. This was melting silk on your tongue, a few chews and the fragile, whisper thin slice of prosciutto simply vanished in your mouth. This is the famed Prosciutto di San Daniele, and it is rightfully famous. Some people need a daily fix of gelato; we need prosciutto.
It slowly dawned us that we were probably the oldest people out on the streets. It is a ‘ragazzi’ town. We passed one university, but there must be more because I’ve never seen so many college age students out having fun. When we got back to our hotel, affectionately named the Fart Hotel because it was such a pain in the arse to find, Jeff shared a little pillow talk with me, “You know I could have fun hanging out with all those kids. I know I could, I just have to go to bed earlier than them.” ….zzzzz…….
Sunday morning we said good-bye to our truck, leaving it safely parked at the train station, and finally we were off on our bikes, exploring the beautiful city of Udine. What a great biking city, lots of dedicated bike lanes and parking places, a real treat. After another simple osteria meal, with two courses of San Daniele, we were ready to leave town and head out for our next destination: Cividale del Friuli.
Osteria Alla Ghiacciaia
Via Zanon, 13
Open on Sundays, which is good to know because not much else is open.
The Art Hotel
Via Paparotti, 11
Tel: 39 0432 600061
Stylish new hotel, comfortable, but over 6km away from the center of town