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Author: Ruben Meiland

Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Wine, Prosciutto, and Golf

23 October 2023
5 min. read
Ruben Meiland
This year, our “late summer run” passes through Italy. Only an hour and a half flying from Amsterdam we visit the gorgeous Friuli-Venezia Giulia area, the northeast Italian region bordering Austria, Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea. It’s home to the Dolomite Mountains, vineyards producing white wines and of course some fantastic hidden-gem golf courses.
The stunning “Golf Senza Confini” golf course, tucked between the Tarvisio forest and the Julian Alps. Right next to the Italian, Austrian and Slovenian border. (Photo: Ruben Meiland)

Playing golf in Friuli

When you think about playing golf in Italy, you might think of Lombardy, Tuscany, Umbria or Piedmont first. A somewhat overlooked region is Friuli-Venezia Giulia, unrightfully so! The region has plenty to offer; a lot of unique golf courses, fantastic food, great history and of course some of the best wines in the world. 

During our trip we were lucky enough to play 3 completely different golf courses, each with their own unique characteristics.

Golf Senza Confini Tarvisio

Stunning views of the Alps at Golf Senza Confini Tarvisio. (Photo: Ruben Meiland)

It’s quite a ride to get to Golf Senze Confini Tarvisio as the course is situated at the base of the Alps on the plateau of Priesnig, close to the Italian/Austrian/Slovenian border. This gives the course a very secluded feel. It’s definitely “off the beaten track”. From 2013 to 2016 the course was redesigned by architect Marco Croze. It is framed by the thousand-year-old Tarvisio Forest with its ancient trees, which already started to show their “fall colours” when we visited.

Udine Golf Club

The 18th green at Udine Golf Club, including a helipad. (Photo: Ruben Meiland)

Tucked away in the middle of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region lies the lovely Villaverde Hotel & Resort and the accompanying Udine Golf Club. We stayed in the beautiful resort overlooking the practice facilities and club house so we couldn't wait to get going!

Udine Golf Club is protected by centuries-old oak trees, and the light shade of wild cherry and alder trees. The course follows the curves of the hills, treating players to majestic views.

Golf Club Grado

There certainly is no shortage of water (hazards) at Golf Club Grado. (Poto: Ruben Meiland)

The last round of our trip was played at Grado Golf, an 18 hole championship course perched between the Laguna di Grado and the Mediterranean Sea. This can only mean one thing; water (my magnet) will come into play on almost every hole.

History of Friuli-Venezia Giulia

In Roman times, modern Friuli Venezia Giulia was located within “Regio X Venetia et Histria” of Roman Italy. The traces of its Roman origin are visible all over the area. In fact, the city of Aquileia, founded in 181 BC, served as a regional capital and rose to prominence in the Augustan era.

On our trip we visited two wonderful places that truly added to the experience of playing golf in such a historic country; Udine and Aquileia.

The  Basilica in Aquileia. (Photo: Ruben Meiland)

Udine is the historical capital of Friuli. The centre of the city is dominated by the castle, built by the Venetians in 1517 over a Lombard fortification ruined by an earthquake in 1511. The old has lots of interesting architecture, cosy squares, shops and enough restaurants and bars to keep you coming back for a couple of nights.

Visiting Aquileia makes you feel like going back to the Roman era. This lovely town was founded by the Romans in 180 BCE and boasts interesting archeological sites and landmarks. The Basilica is a must-visit, as is the Foro Romano. Top it off with some wonderful Italian ice cream in one of the shops downtown and you couldn’t feel more Roman.

Local cuisine

The region might not be as well known as others in Italy, but Friuli Aquileia has actually been known for its wine production for centuries. The typical wines of this region are less structured and lighter in the body. These are usually made with the grape Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, which is combined with Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. 

Drying hams at the “Museo del Prosciutto” at DOK Dall’Ava. (Photo: Ruben Meiland)

Another thing you can’t skip - unless you’re vegetarian of course - is the local specialty prosciutto. The locals eat this tasty ham with almost every meal. If eating this local treat isn’t enough and you want to know more about its history, make sure to visit the “Museo del Prosciutto” at DOK Dall’Ava where you can learn everything about the whole process of making these hams.

As you can tell; Friuli-Venezia Giulia has a lot to offer. For golfers, people who are interested in the history of Italy and foodies. Combining the three makes this a perfect getaway!

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