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Grado. Friuli Venezia-Giulia’s Island of Sun seaside resort

By Tuesday, 29 November 2022 08:00

Grado is the Friuli Venezia-Giulia region’s Island of Sun, an elegant seaside resort that on 25 June 1892 was proclaimed a “resort and health resort” by the Emperor Franz Joseph, thus launching a success story that continues to this day.  

Lovely views towards Slovenia and Croatia

Like Venice, which is some 130 kilometres away by car, Grado is reached by crossing a causeway on a lagoon. The modern town now dwarfs the historic centre, and from the promenade there are lovely views towards Slovenia and Croatia. It is known as the Island of Sun for its three kilometres of south-facing beach that never gets any shade, and for its special microclimate as it seems that the sun never fails to shine on this popular seaside resort. 

A town with Venetian charm and fishermen’s houses

Its old town centre has Venetian charm with little squares and alleys overlooked by picturesque fishermen's houses. In the Campo dei Patriarchi square the Basilica of Santa Eufemia and the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the oldest church in Grado, dominate the scene. 

Grado was loved by 19th-century aristocrats

Over a millennium ago, Grado, at the end of a curving peninsula, was more important than Venice, and the seat of a bishopric that stretched into what is now Croatia. Then it became  part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and in the 19th century was very popular with the Habsburg aristocracy for its marine spas which are still popular today.

Wide sandy beaches close to town

It is a highly organized seaside resort with excellently equipped beaches on which to relax, with fun for both adults and children, its shallow waters making the coastline particularly suitable for families. The wide, sandy Costa Azzurra is right in town and has a free beach as well as many private lidos, but the best beach is Grado-Pineta which is a couple of miles away and can be reached by local bus. Backed by a pine forest, it is a wide sandy beach and is also popular with kite-surfers. 

UNESCO-listed Aquilea is just ten kilometres away

More energetic visitors will enjoy the efficient network of cycle paths for excursions into the inland areas, and one must-do day trip is to the town of Aquileia which is ten kilometres away and is also served by local buses. With its Unesco-listed Roman ruins dating from 181 B.C., it also has the magnificent Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, the remains of a Roman forum and an Archaeological Museum.

The Radweg cycle route to Salzburg passes through Grado

The Radweg cycle route connects Salzburg in Austria with Grado. The Italian stretch that passes through Aquileia starts in Udine and leads to Grado through beautiful countryside, vineyards, canals, Roman remains and picturesque lagoon landscapes. 

For information: https://www.grado.info

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