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There is more to Udine, however, than the city’s fine historical, artistic and documentary heritage, closed within the rooms of its monuments. The best way to enjoy this gem of a city is through contact with the everyday life that enfolds on the streets and within the neighbourhoods, taking a stroll through the little squares and a look around the shops, or sampling some local food and wine in one of the many hostelries and winebars it offers.
It is pleasant to take a walk around admiring the little low houses, the charming little doors and tiny windows, the religious-themed frescoes and stylised decorations, just behind the university building of Palazzo Antonini, in the mediaeval neighbourhood, or Via Superiore, Via Leicht and Via Zorutti, superbly renovated after the 1976 earthquake; or to stroll along Via Anton Lazzaro Moro,Via Mazzini and Via Palladio, marvelling at the splendid Palazzo Florio, which houses the Rector’s office, or some of the city’s most important noble residences, such as Palazzo Antonini-Cernazai, or the residence Andrea Palladio designed for Floriano Antonini, or the Caiselli building, originally constructed in the Middle Ages and altered throughout the centuries thereafter.
Visitors then might like to stop off in Piazzetta Antonini to admire the delightful little Church of San Cristoforo, before proceeding up Riva Bartolini, past the old civic library and into the beating heart of Udine: Via Mercatovecchio. Were it not for the porphyry cobblestone paving in place of a canal, visitors might think they were in Venice. The street is flanked on both sides by mediaeval and fifteenth-century buildings, modern re-workings and nineteenth-century constructions, and under the two porticoes shopping fans will find a range of pleasant surprises: from the Zagolin milliner’s, whose activity is documented from as early as the 18th century, to Casa Tonini, more an institution than a shop, with the sort of fine, original furnishings most of us dream of, where Cavalli bedlinen rubs shoulders with a nineteenth-century French bench.
Just a few steps from here lies Piazza Libertà, the very emblem of Udine, with the Loggia del Lionello, thus named because it was built on a design by Nicolò Lionello at the request of the Republic of Venice, motivated by the desire to affirm its power in Udine; the embankment with the statues of Floreàn and Venturìn, the clock tower with the Moors striking the hours, and the magnificent Town Hall building designed by the architect Raimondo D’Aronco, who took twenty years to finally complete it in 1930.
Just off Udine’s main square, alongside Via Mercatovecchio, down a number of charming little lanes, is Piazza delle Erbe, also known as Piazza del Mercato or Piazza San Giacomo, where you can see the attractive Church of San Giacomo, assymetrical compared to the square shape of the Piazza, which is surrounded by tall, narrow buildings from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, each one a different colour from the one beside it, and all of which have been adorned in various ways over the centuries with stucco work, decorations and frescoes. In the middle of the square is the embankment with the fountain, where fruit and vegetables, and indeed antiques, are sold.
As you leave the square and walk in an easterly direction across the roggia (a little artificial waterway) a walk along the ancient Via Poscolle (post collem is Latin for “behind the hill”, in this case the Castle hill) will take you to Piazzale 26 Luglio.
At the centre is the Monument to the Resistance (Italy’s civil war), by the architects Federico Marconi and Gino Valle, built between 1959 and 1969, in front of which is the Tempio Ossario, a memorial to the victims of the Great War, dated 1925 and built by the architects Provino Valle and Alessandro Limongelli. In the same square is the twentieth-century construction that once hosted the brewery where Moretti beer (famous for its label featuring a man with a moustache and a Borsalino hat) used to be made, which today no longer belongs to the firm.
By: Laura Sebastianutti
Photo by: Archivio fotografico dell’Agenzia TurismoFVG
Filed under: Focused on Udine | Tagged: art museum, castello udine, friuli italie, friuli venezia giulia, museum of art, museums exhibitions, Palazzo Florio, Piazza Libertà, raffaello, raphael, salone del parlamento, udine friuli, udine tourism, universita udine, Via Mercatovecchio, Zagolin milliner's | 5 Comments »