The region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia occupies the northeastern corner of Italy and is one of the country's autonomous regions, honoring its unique history and language.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia (which does not include Venice, despite the name) borders the Veneto region to the west, and the countries of Austria and Slovenia to the north and east. In addition to the local Friulano language and the national Italian, Slovenian and German are also spoken along the borders. The region includes flat coastal areas, rolling hills, and mostly the mountains of the Dolomites in the north.
The region isn't far from Venice, but remains largely ignored by tourists. There is one UNESCO site in Friuli-Venezia Giulia—the archaeological excavation of the ancient Roman city of Aquileia, not far from the city of Udine. The capital of Trieste, the primary port city of the Autro-Hungarian Empire, is a gorgeous waterfront city. The beaches are popular in the summer, the ski resorts in the winter, and the great forests and mountains are draws for rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor sports.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia's major cities—including Trieste and Udine—are connected to Italian rail lines, but as you go further toward the north and the mountains it's increasingly difficult to get around without a car.
Photo credits: Alberto Masnovo