Made up of some of the last areas to join the Italian state after unification, Friuli-Venezia Giulia could be seen as a distant backwater - and not a few of Roma's politicians see it just that way. The region marks the front line between the three great European cultural groupings: it is here that the Latin, Slav and Germanic worlds have for centuries run up against each other , often violently. There's little more than a series of lagoons and flat wetlands along the Adratic coast, while the Friulian plains and Giulian plateaux lead up to pine-covered Alps in the north, bordered by the Veneto to the west, Austria to the north and Slovenia in the east.
Relations between Italy and Slovenia are cordial at best. Each side is critical of the other's treatment of their respective Slovene and Italian minorities. Italy is also miffed that its eastern neighbour tends to turn north towards Austria and Germany in order to expand trade rather than looking towards Roma. Heading west from the frontier, the road signs are in Italian and Friulian. Udine bears the marks of Venetian intervention, while Trieste is largely a neoclassical creation of Habsburg Austria.
The region is relatively unexplored, and its cities and towns are worth a few days of your time. You can mix urban culture with nature by heading for the Adriatic beaches, northern ski slopes or forest walking tracks.
Trieste is an atmospheric city, tucked up next to Slovenia, with a long, bustling harbour lined with handsome buildings and lapped by the waves of the Adriatic Sea.
City: Trieste, Gorizia, Pordenone, Udine
Surface: kmq 13613
National Parks :Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio (1935).