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Piazza San Giacomo at night, Udine

Via Mercato Vecchio, Udine

Skiing adventures near Udine

Chiesa Santa Maria del Castello

Welcome to Udine
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 96,593 (2005)
Official website:
Wikipedia: Udine
Map: MapQuest

Udine is in the very north east corner of the Friuli Region, in the midst of a  plain adjacent to the Alps.  The city, the second largest in Friuli (after Trieste) is built around an anomalous 136 meter high hill that was deposited by glacial action in the long ago. 

Once encircled by ever widening concentric circles of defensive walls, the City now spills out on all sides, to accommodate its still growing population.  A bevy of medium and small industries, ranging from food processing to the manufacture of machinery, textiles, metals, and chemicals sits around the periphery.

In earlier times, Udine was situated strategically to give some measure of control over movement through the Sainfritz and Pontebba passes to the north, two of the gateways between Italy and northern Europe.  Nowadays, many people who are driving to the Alps to ski, hike, climb, or enjoy other recreational adventures, use Udine as a stop-over or provisioning place.

The area around Udine was settled in prehistoric times by tribal Celts, but the city itself does not seem to have acquired any prominence until the Middle Ages.  The city was on the Roman road, the via Julia Augusta, and would have been known to the Romans, but there is no evidence it was occupied by them.  Instead, they established their regional power base at Aquileia, a short distance away. Nor does it appear that the successive wave of barbarians, the Goths, the Ostrogoths or the Visigoths, had much to do with the city.  At least, they left no surviving footprint.

During the Middle Ages, in the early 13th Century (about 1223) Udine became a more prominent city when the patriarchs of Aquileia moved the seat of their government here.  Under the family's leader, Bertolo di Andechs, who established a market, Udine was a busy, and thriving regional center of trade and commerce.

It was also during this time that the Castello di Udine, and the Chiesa Santa Maria and its campanile (bell tower), which dominate the city from their positions atop the hill were built.  The Cathedral of Udine, on the main piazza, and the large preaching church, the Chiesa di San Francesco, both done in the Romanesque style,  were also built during this era.  The Duomo houses the Museo Civico which contains many interesting and some important artifacts, and a collection of impressive paintings.

In 1420, however, Udine became annexed by the Republic of Venice and the city declined in importance.  The history of the City more or less follows that of Venice from this point on.  The year 1511 is known as an "annus horribilis" in Udine history, the year of a bloody peasant revolt, followed by earthquake and the scourge of a pestilential outbreak.

It was during Venetian times that the Piazza della Liberta (start here to climb the hill to the castle), the Piazza Matteotti (orginally, Piazza delle Erbe) were built, along with many fine palazzo's for the artistocratic and wealthy families of the day: the Torso, Mantica, Antonini-Belgrado, Antivari-Kechler and so on.  These rich families patronized the best architects and artists of the time, including Palladio in the 16th century, and the artist Tiepolo in the 18th.  A few of the latter's paintings hang in the Duomo, Santa Maria della Purita.

Fronting the Piazza della Liberta, one also finds the Gothic Loggia del Lionello (1447-1458) (housing the city hall), the Loggia di San Giovanni (16th Century).  The Torre dell' Orologio - clock tower - which was  built in the "Venetian Gothic" style, is very similar to the clock tower in Piazza San Marco, Venice.

When the Venetian Republic came to an end in with the Treaty of Campoformio, in 1797 (the end of the Napoleonic conquest), the area was annexed to Austria, in whose hands it remained until the Friuli region was ceded to Italy in 1866.  In 1964, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia was recognized as a Region of Italy with special autonomy.

Special note should be made of the fact that during World War I Udine was the headquarters of the Italian army.  When the Austrians defeated Italy, it was occupied by the Austrians for a brief period between 1917 and 1918.  The city was heavily damaged by both Axis and Allied forces during the Second World War, paving the way for a considerable amount of modern urbanization.  A devastating earthquake in 1976 produced even more land for modernization. The city, which began to expand after the war, continues to expand today.

by Vian Andrews, November 23rd, 2005

Friuli Region

46.07 North,
13.24 East


Car: From Venice, east on the A4 about 130 km. (80 mi) From Trieste, north on the SS202 to the E70, north to the A4, north to Udine, approx 80 km (50 mi).
Air: Trieste, Venice
Train/Bus: Trieste, Venice.




Castello Di Udine

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The Udine soccer club plays in the  Series A league - the top league in Italy.