Like all the northern regions on Italy’s border that I have written about so far in this series, the regions are heavily influenced by the countries they touch.
Friuli–Venezia Giulia is Italy’s most North-Eastern region and is the fifth smallest region of the country. It borders Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east. To the south it faces the Adriatic Sea and to the west. The region spans a wide variety of climates and landscapes from the mild Mediterranean climate in the south to Alpine continental in the north. The total area is subdivided into mountainous-alpine terrain in the north, hilly areas in the south-east and in the interior the coastal plains area.
The regional capital is Trieste; the other important cities are Udine, Gorizia and Pordenone.
The ancient Romans left many remarkable traces, mainly at Aquileia, which is a famous archaeological center. In Grado and Cividale, there are important architecture examples of the Byzantine style. The Basilica of Aquileia, which is in the Romanesque Gothic style, houses splendid mosaics.
In Trieste, the Revoltella Civic Museum, holds an important collection of sculptural and pictorial works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the Civic Museum of the Sea, shows the history of navigation from its origins to the end of the last century, with models, instruments and projects. The Civic Museum of Risorgimento is an interesting review of Trieste’s struggle for freedom; the Civic Museum of Art History holds a remarkable collection of archaeological relics, from the Paleolithic to the Roman Age with collections of archaeology, sculpture, painting, ceramics, coins and jewelry.
Italian is the official national language. Friulian language is also spoken in most of the region — with a few exceptions, most notably Trieste and the area around Monfalcone and Grado, where a version of the Venetian language and Triestine dialect is spoken instead. The local languages are more common in the countryside, while in the larger towns (Udine, Pordenone, Gorizia), standard Italian is the predominant language.
Take a visit to the Friuli Venezia Giulia region via the video below:
Friuli Venezia Giulia Cuisine
The food culture has been enriched by the historical melting pot of peoples, languages and traditions, with influences from the Mediterranean and Slavic countries detectable in a range of flavors and recipes.
The legendary San Daniele ham and wines from Friuli vineyards have become the ambassadors of Friuli Venezia Giulia food production. There are 8 D.O.C. zones where D.O.C.G. wines are produced, including robust reds such as Ramandolo, Picolit and Rosazzo, the strangely-named Tazzelenghe (do you know how it got this name?). Tazzelenghe, in English, means literally “tongue-cutting or stinging,” which refers to a great combination of acidity and tannins, born from a long, cool growing season. Tazzelenghe is an indigenous varietal that disappeared and only saw cultivation and production as recently as the late 1970s and early ‘80s.
The foremost white wine produced in this region is the Tocai Friulano, as it is called now. Because of a confusion between a Hungarian grape called Tokaj and a French one called Tokay, the European Community had demanded a name change of the French and Friuli grapes allowing Hungary to keep the original Tokaj name.
Seafood dishes include crostacei e conchiglie (a crustacean and shellfish dish), specialities such as boreto from Grado, “scampi a la busara” from Istria, sardoni from the Gulf of Trieste and ribalta vapor from the Marano lagoon.
Montasio, smoked ricotta cheese with the taste of Alpine meadows is the best known cheese of the region and cheeses that are little known but much-loved, are formadi frant and Asìno. Dis
Delicacies such as Sauris cured ham, cured ham from Cormòns, salami, speck (smoked ham), local bacon, brusaola and pitina, smoked meatball of sheep, goat or wild animal are all characteristic foods of the region.
Specialties of the region include frico (a kind of cheese fritter, either soft or crunchy), with musèt and brovade (sausage with soured turnip). Other specialities include cjarsòns (ravioli with a sweet or herb-flavored filling) and gnocchi di susine (plum gnocchi) from Goriziano. You will also find trout (especially the Regina smoked trout from San Daniele), honey, Julia Dop apples, grappas, oils and Slavic desserts such as gubana and presnitz.
If you want to taste and buy typical Friuli products, go to the Farmers’ Market in San Daniele: it’s an open air market organised in collaboration between the San Daniele Agro-food Park and the Slow Food Movement.
Recipes from Friuli Venezia Giulia
Asiago is a good replacement for Montasio cheese.
Ingredients for 1 frico ( 4 people):
- 8 oz (250 grams) of potatoes
- 1 onion
- 9 oz (260 grams) of Montasio cheese, cut into small cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Grated Grana Padano cheese
Place potatoes in a pot of cold water; when it begins to boil cook them for 20 minutes. Drain and mash with a fork.
In the meantime chopped the onion. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and add the onion. cook until lightly brown. Add the mashed potatoes to the pan with the cheese cubes. Flatten the mixture with a wide spatula and cook until the underside is brown.
Slip the spatula under the mixture and flip it over. Cook until brown on the bottom.
Sprinkle with the grated grana padano cheese, cut into four and serve as an appetizer.
Fresh Pasta with Poppy Seeds and Sugar
This is an unusual sweet sauce not usually found in Italy.
For the pasta:
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 pound fresh egg tagliatelle or reginette pasta
For the sauce:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 ounces poppy seeds
- 1/4 cup sugar
Make the pasta:
Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente; then drain, reserving about 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.
Make the sauce:
Warm the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the poppy seeds and warm through until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Keep warm.
Transfer the drained pasta to a large serving platter and toss with the warm poppy-seed butter. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking water, as needed to thin out the sauce; it should coat the pasta nicely. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss again. Serve hot.
Cevapcici with Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Sauce
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 8 ounces lean ground pork
- 1 onion plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Dash cayenne pepper
To prepare the Cevapcici:
In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, 2 tablespoons chopped onion, garlic, paprika, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Roll the mixture into sausage shapes about 3 inches long and ¾ inch in diameter.
Preheat a grill (or heat a large skillet over medium-high heat). Place the sausages on the grill; cook until done, about 5–6 minutes, turning to brown each side.
Serve with the sauce and the onion, chopped.
To prepare the Sauce:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the bell pepper and eggplant on a baking sheet; bake until the eggplant is tender and the bell pepper skin begins to brown, about 30–40 minutes. When the bell pepper is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, stem and seeds.
Slice open the eggplant and scoop out the flesh. Place the bell pepper and eggplant in a food processor, along with the olive oil, vinegar, sugar and cayenne pepper; purée until smooth. Season to taste with salt.
Friuli Chocolate Fondue
- 2 bananas
- 12 fresh, ripe strawberries
- 2 pears
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 1 ¼ lbs (500 gr) dark melting chocolate of excellent quality, chopped
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream, slightly scalded
- 2 tablespoons rum
Wash all the fruit. Slice the bananas and pears into wedges and rub with the sliced lemon to keep them from turning brown. Take care not to use too much lemon as it will alter the flavor of the fruit.
Melt the chocolate pieces in a double boiler.
Remove from the heat and add the rum and the heavy cream.
Serve the chocolate sauce in a warmed ceramic (or clay) bowl and arrange the fruit around it.