Things to Do in Friuli-Venezia Giulia
The extravagant 19th-century Miramare Castle (Castello di Miramare) is set on the Grignano promontory above the Gulf of Trieste and has beautiful interiors and 54 acres of grounds and botanical gardens. Home to the Habsburg family until the 20th century, this sumptuous noble residence offers a fascinating glimpse into royal life.
Trieste’s magnificent Piazza Unità d'Italia, also known as Piazza Grande, facing the Adriatic Sea, is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. This large open space—the largest seafront square in Europe—lined with sumptuous 19th- and 20th-century palaces and historic cafés, is the very heart of the city.
Tucked almost on the border with Italy in Slovenia’s limestone karst landscape, Lipica is an ancient village best known for the stud farm that started breeding white Lipizzaner horses when the region was part of the Austrian Habsburg empire in the 16th century. The first brood mares and stallions were brought here from southern Spain in 1581 and although the stud has been relocated several times over the centuries – thanks to wars, earthquakes and changing national boundaries – the same Lipizzaner strain has been bred ever since.
A visit to Lipica Stud Farm encompasses guided tours of the historic estate, family-friendly “meet the horses” sessions, carriage rides (weather-dependent), seeing the horses in morning training and dressage performances by the stallions in the manège, while the Lipikum Museum showcases the backstory of the stud. For non-equine fans, the farm has a year-round nine-hole golf course.
Also to see in Lipica are mass graves dating from World War II, the Vilenica and UNESCO-listed Škocjan karst cave complexes and the ornate little Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Dolina Valley, which is now a popular Catholic pilgrimage point.
The massive Torri di Slivia Cave is one of the most spectacular natural sights on Trieste’s karst plateau, which sits on the Italian-Slovenian border. Head more than 300 feet (100 meters) below ground to explore caverns filled with otherworldly stalactites and stalagmites formed over millennia.