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Piazza San Giacomo is a convivial place where the Udinesi come in the evening to meet up over an aperitivo © xbrchx, Shutterstock
If Udine were in Tuscany, everyone would know all about it.
The bosses and the bureaucrats of Friuli Venezia Giulia may live in Trieste, but the sentimental capital of Friuli will always be here. Udine is a charmer, and not half as well known as it deserves to be. Its centre is a patch of calm and urbanity packed into a single square kilometre. If Udine were in Tuscany, everyone would know about it, and the streets and cafés would be as jammed full of tourists as Pisa or Siena. As it is, tucked away in the heart of Friuli, you can enjoy the sights and meet the Udinesi in an air of sweet serenity.
It is a city that, as one local writer notes with despair, che cambia poco – it changes little. That’s not all bad. Like many of the historic cities of Italy that history has left behind, it has polished its graces and learned to become a cosy, convivial world in itself. Its biggest attractions come from the period of Venetian rule. You shouldn’t miss Tiepolo’s frescoes in the Museo Diocesano, and the Piazza della Libertà, the heart of the city, may be the most Venetian thing anywhere outside Venice itself.