Small squares, porticoes, palaces and churches, sights of art and history make the historic heart of Udine a town full of charm and a pleasantly surprising place for tourists. Signs of the passage of time can be glimpsed in the Cathedral, with works by Vitale da Bologna, Pellegrino da San Daniele, and Giambattista Tiepolo. And indeed, Udine - the birthplace of Raphael's most brilliant pupil, Giovanni da Udine - can rightly be called the city of Tiepolo, who has embellished it with grandiose frescoes and paintings in the Palazzo Patriarcale, the Cathedral and the Oratorio della Purità.
In Piazza Libertà - a surprising Venice on the terra-ferma - from the 15th-century Loggia del Lionello one takes the ascent, next to the Clock Tower, to the Castle, beneath the golden angel of Santa Maria, on the hill that opens the view as far as the mountains and as far as the Adriatic Sea. Next to the Loggia you walk along Mercatovecchio, the city's most elegant street - where the Cappella del Monte di Pietà is located - and enter Piazza Matteotti, the "lounge" of the city, surrounded by arcades and the asymmetrical face of San Giacomo. Udine offers many treasures to lovers of beauty.
Sites of interest
Casa Cavazzini, the location of Udine’s new Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, is based in the city’s historic center. Acquired by the City Council through the testamentary will of Dante Cavazzini, the building underwent extensive renovation work based on the original design by architect Gae Aulenti and has now become a modern and functional museum, destined to become a cultural hub that will enhance the historic heart of Udine.
The construction that we are now familiar with is the result of the combination, over the centuries, of a series of pre-existing properties that covered the area between Via Savorgnana and Via Cavour. In 1937, Udine merchant Dante Cavazzini purchased the entire building and moved his residence there. It was thus that the first floor of the building was renovated by architect Ermes Midena (1895-1972) according to the principles of modern rationalism, transforming the spaces into a flat with all the comforts.
Inside, part of the original furnishings and the wall murals that Afro Basaldella was commissioned to paint in 1938 to decorate the walls and ceiling of some rooms are still visible. On the first floor are valuable frescoes dating back to the second half of the 14th century. The ground and first floors house the permanent exhibition, a careful selection of the collection of 200 works donated to the Municipality in 1982 by Maria Luisa and Sante Astaldi. Giorgio De Chirico, Alberto Savinio, Filippo De Pisis, Carlo Carrà and Arturo Martini are just some of the renowned artists represented in the collection, which is of national importance due to the quantity and quality of the works and artists represented. On the first floor, a large permanent section is dedicated to the three Udine brothers Dino, Mirko and Afro Basaldella.
Info and reservation
Tel. 0432 1272920
Tiepolo Galleries and Patriarchal Palace
The Palace, residence of the Patriarch of Aquileia and today of the Archbishop of Udine, houses an exceptional cycle of frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo. It houses the Diocesan Museum, with an important collection of wooden sculpture and the extraordinary Patriarchal Library.
Info and reservation
Tel. 0432 25003 | 0432 298056
Piazza Libertà and Loggia del Lionello
The square hosts some of the best expressions of the Friulian Renaissance, from the Bollani Arch by Andrea Palladio, to the elegant Clock Tower designed by Giovanni da Udine, Raphael’s disciple at the papal court, to the 15th-century Loggia del Lionello in Venetian Gothic style, to Palazzo D’Aronco, the work of one of the greatest Italian architects of the 20th century, Raimondo D’Aronco from Udine.
For group visits
Castle and Church of Santa Maria
The Castle houses the Museum of the Risorgimento, the Multisensory Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Photography. It also hosts the Galleria d’Arte Antica with works from the 14th to the 19th century including paintings by Carpaccio, Caravaggio and Tiepolo. The ascent to the hill is flanked by the elegant Loggia del Lippomano in Venetian Gothic style, which leads from the Arco Bollani, designed by Andrea Palladio, to the church of Santa Maria, one of the oldest parish churches in Udine with frescoes from the 13th century. The panorama from the top of the hill, from the Alps to the sea, is breathtaking.
Info and reservation
Tel. 0432 1272591
Oratory of the Purità
The Oratory of the Purità, next to the Cathedral, stands on the site once occupied by the Mantica Theatre and houses some of the greatest masterpieces of the 18th century: Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770) was appointed to decorate it. In 1759 he frescoed the ceiling with the Assumption and painted the altarpiece with the Immaculate Conception; in the same year the walls were painted in chiaroscuro on a gold background by his son Giandomenico, with eight scenes dedicated to the education of children.
Tel. 0432 506830
Cathedral and Cathedral Museum
The 13th-century cathedral, stepping through the austere lines of the façade, introduces us to the magnificence of the 18th-century architecture, commissioned by the Manin family. The presbytery is conceived as a theatre scene on which angels open the curtain. In the side chapels on the right, frescoes and paintings by Giambattista Tiepolo can be admired. In the surrounding chapels, are situated works by Pomponio Amalteo, Pordenone, Pellegrino da San Daniele, Domenico da Tolmezzo, Dorigny and sculptures by Torretti, Canova’s master. The Cathedral Museum houses the enchanting 14th-century ark of the Patriarch Bertrando di Saint-Geniès, and in evocative spaces presents jewellery, vestments, paintings and frescoes from the 14th – 15th centuries, including an important painting cycle by Vitale da Bologna.
Tel. 0432 506830 | 0432 505302
Via Mercatovecchio and Cappella del Monte di Pietà
Leaving Piazza Libertà behind, one enters the city’s most ancient market street: Mercatovecchio. The architecture of the aristocratic palaces marks the path with designs ranging from 13th-century to 20th-century by architect Gino Valle. Halfway down the street is the Monte di Pietà, with its ashlar portico embellished by the three-mullioned windows on the piano nobile, the marble groups of the Pietà and that Baroque masterpiece that is the chapel of Santa Maria, entirely frescoed by Giulio Quaglio, with an altar by G. Comin and E. Merengo.
Piazza Matteotti and San Giacomo
One of the oldest squares in the city, once used for the city market. It is dominated by two of the city’s artistic masterpieces: the church of San Giacomo and the fountain designed by Giovanni da Udine. The church was commissioned by the Confraternity of Furriers in 1378 and features a fine façade by Bernardino da Morcote. The interior features works by Pietro Venier, Fulvio Griffoni and two statues by sculptor Antonio Corradini, the artist who also made the sketch of the Veiled Christ of Naples, later sculpted by Sammartino.
Piazza XX settembre
Also known as Grain Square, long used as a grain market, it offers a beautiful view of some of the city’s most elegant aristocratic palaces. On one side is Palazzo Antivari Kechler, with a neoclassical façade by Giuseppe Jappelli (1833), flanked by Casa Caimo Delfino, which now houses a hotel; on the opposite side is the 15th-century façade of the Casa Veneziana, which until 1929 stood where Palazzo D’Aronco, the town hall, now is located.
Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine delle Grazie
The Sanctuary “delle Grazie” was built in the 15th century to house a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. The lieutenant of the Venetian government in Udine, Giovanni Emo, kept the icon he had received as a gift from the Sultan of Constantinople; his cook, who had been seriously injured while working, addressed his prayers to the Virgin Mary through the icon, finding herself healed in a very short time. The lieutenant then had the image transferred to the small church at the end of Borgo Pracchiuso. Due to the great popular devotion, the small church was enlarged until it was declared a minor basilica in 1922. Next to the Basilica, the Convent with a valuable cloister.
Manin Chapel and Church of Beata Vergine del Carmine
Erected by Ludovico Manin in the early 18th century, probably based on a design by Domenico Rossi, Cappella Manin is one of the city’s Baroque jewels. The interior, with a hexagonal plan, houses valuable stuccos and high reliefs by Giuseppe Torretti, dedicated to the life of the Virgin Mary.
Walking along via Aquileia, we reach the Church of the Carmine. Of 16th-century origin, it features a rich Baroque main altar and a wonderful ceiling with 17th-century frescoes by Giulio Cesare Begni. The left chapel houses the recomposed ark of Blessed Odorico Mattiussi da Pordenone, called the apostle of the Chinese – he was one of the first Franciscan missionaries to Mongolia, China, India and the Philippines.
The museum is housed in the 16th-century Palazzo Giacomelli and is the ideal place to discover the local traditional culture from the 18th to the 20th century through the collections donated to the museum, which present local traditions and lifestyles through a thematic exhibition itinerary accompanied by educational and multimedia exhibits.
Info and reservation
Tel. 0432 1272920
* All museums in Udine have free admission with FVG card
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