Buona Degustazione! A Day on the Strada del Vino in Friuli Venezia-Giulia


A building on a pedestrian street in Trieste

This past weekend, there was a street fair, the Piazza Europa Treiste, with lots of booths of food from different parts of Europe, from local and other Italian specialties to Brittany and Holland and beyond. There were crafts booths as well, and I was able to pick up a nice ceramic bowl from Bassano di Grappa, which I visited around the new year while I was still staying with my brother. I had a bowl of paella for lunch down in Piazza Ponterosso, where the usual mercatino of fish, fruits, flowers, vegetables, honey, and olive oil was also in progress around the fountain.


Ceramics from Bassano di Grappa

Hot weather drives us to extremes

Hot weather drives us to extremes

The weather has been quite warm, and it definitely feels more humid here than it did in Seattle, so even mid-60s weather (about 20c) feels much warmer than I’m used to for that temperature range. I spent a lot of Saturday wandering around downtown Trieste looking for some light, sleeveless tops and a skirt that wouldn’t make me feel like a flower garden or that I was attempting to flash the crowds if I put it on. The tops were reasonably easy, but the skirt took a lot of wandering to find. I’m not a wearer of skirts (kilts, yes; skirts, no) and the idea of dresses appalls me, so actually wearing this was a measure of desperation. I suspect the summers are going to be like this for me from now on. All I can say is, I was really glad I was wearing that Sunday instead of my usual jeans, because it was up in the 80s through much of the day.


Taking the wine road

Taking the wine road

Sunday I got out of town early, on the 9am train to Gorizia, to meet my brother and some of his friends for the Cantine Aperte or open cellars tour of Friuli Venezia-Giulia. Over 70 vineyards participate in the day-long event, from 10am to 6pm. There’s no way any human being would make it to all of them, so we focused on the Strada del Vino of Il Collio in the province of Gorizia, right along the Slovenian border.

Our route took us to five vineyards, and past quite a number of lovely rural restaurants that were entirely booked solid for wedding parties until late in the day.

We began at Fiegl, a vineyard in operation since 1782. We each bought a wine glass for €6, which entitled us to wine samples at all the vineyards participating in the day. As we tasted our first wine of the day, someone in the crowd wished us “buona degustazione!” – “good tasting!” The day itself certainly fulfilled that promise. The only other wine tasting I’d ever been to previously was at an artist’s studio in Seattle, sponsored by a kink club, involving mostly naked people, an extensive wine list, and a well-informed sommelier, but that is a tale for another time.


Opening the day at Fiegl vinyards

The region is particularly famed for white wines, and it seemed fitting to begin with a Friulano. I know fairly little about wines, and am not usually that fond of whites, but it was a nice start to the day, and I found that I really quite enjoyed a number of the white wines on offer throughout the day, as well as the reds. This vineyard, along with several of the others we visited, had a collection of artifacts from WWI on display. I suspect most of them were found on the property, the result of battles fought in the area.

Our second stop along the route was Muzic, where cherries, apple juice, and baskets were also very much on display along with the wines. This winery had a really excellent Picolit available, sweet and strong, made from dried grapes rather than the fresh fruit. I enjoyed the taste so much that I got a bottle of it before we left. We grabbed a snack here, as well, of the local ham; I had the plate with bread and horseradish (kren), while my brother and a couple of the others had small sandwiches made with the same.


Wine tasting at Muzic


In the cellars at Muzic – a 16th-century cellar


Basketry in progress

A snack overlooking the vineyard

A snack overlooking the vineyard

The vineyards of Muzic

The vineyards of Muzic

Next was Humar, located at a bend in the road. The winery was selling cherries, which are in season now, as well as their wine. They had snacks laid out for everyone, including some tasty cherry cake that I quite enjoyed. We had hoped to get a tour of the facility, which was available, but only accompanied by one of the staff. Unfortunately, all the folks there were really busy and so we weren’t able to flag someone down to take us in. All along the route, we found people doing the wine road on bicycles as well as those touring in cars or on motorcycles. There were also a couple of small tour buses taking people along the route, which I think makes a lot of sense and allows everyone to enjoy the tasting safely, even if they end up indulging slightly more than might be advisable.

View from the gates of Humar

View from the gates of Humar

Sign in Italian, Slovenian, and German

Sign in Italian, Slovenian, and German

Further down the road, we encountered Alessio Komjanc, where they were giving samples of the olive oil as well as the wine. I tasted an oil made of black olives, but ended up purchasing a green olive oil, which was spicier than the black. Both the oil and the wine are made there, with an orchard as well as vineyards. The entire region sees a lot of German and Austrian tourists though, apparently, not a lot of Americans despite the base at Aviano being very nearby. It’s sad that people from the base don’t get out more and see the countryside, along with all the wonderful things and people there. Quite a few of the winery websites do offer English text about their cellars and wines. There’s just so much to explore here.

More multilingual signs at Komjanc

More multilingual signs at Komjanc

By this time, everyone was getting hungry, but every place we stopped to look for food had no space for our group of seven people. Not all that surprising, really. Had it been two or three of us, it would have been more likely we’d have been able to be seated. Weddings seemed to be a thing yesterday, though Laura noted that usually Italians tend to get married on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day for it, though, so mazel tov to all the couples whose weddings were making it impossible for us to have lunch!

The heat and the sun were really becoming intense, and I’m a little sunburnt today. Our last stop was an absolute joy, as so much of it was actually inside, and the winery also had a restaurant. The food wasn’t as good as some I’ve had, but it certainly satisfied my need for something solid with the wine! This was the Gradnik winery, right on the Slovenian border. The place was just gorgeous.

Gradnik, on the Slovenian border

Gradnik, on the Slovenian border

Laura and my brother talked with the gent who was serving the wine; he initially thought we were German tourists and was quite surprised to find that most of the group was American. It turns out, though, that he has some family in Washington state, so small world syndrome struck again. It struck in another way as we were paying our bill for lunch; one of my friends from Trieste, Gabrielle, was also there with a friend. She’s a chef and so it didn’t really surprise me that she was out on the tour for the day as well, but to run into her randomly, out of all the wineries that were open yesterday, was quite delightful.


Antiques at Gradnik


More antique winery equipment


The tasting room at Gradnik


Part of their restaurant area

Through the seating area and the tasting room, there was a narrow stone stairwell, with ropes bolted to the walls as handrails, leading up to the outdoor restaurant. The view was panoramic and spectacular, and the scent of jasmine was everywhere, as it is in bloom right now. The place was quite crowded and service was slow, but there were only two people working the area and they were slammed, so I’m not surprised that it took a while to get our food. I had the asparagus lasagne, which was a little more tender than I’d usually like, but tasted okay. It was only €5, with mineral water and coffee each being €1, so I certainly couldn’t complain about the prices. They also had a strawberry mousse of some sort available for dessert, but I didn’t try it.


View from the restaurant


More view from the restaurant

By the time we were done with food and coffee, we were all fairly tired. It had been a long day, though it was only mid-afternoon. I’m sure the heat had rather a bit to do with it, as well, as it was in the low 80s (28c) by the time we were done with lunch. Most of my brother’s friends departed back to the base, and he and Bob and Laura drove me to the train station at Cormòns, as it was the nearest one, and on the route to Trieste. We only had about a 20 minute wait for the train, which wasn’t bad at all, considering we’d just chosen randomly to take me there. It takes about 50 minutes from Cormòns to Trieste, and the view along the coastal part of the route really is gorgeous. You can see both Duino and Miramare castles from the train, though they do go by rather quickly between the trees and the tunnels.

It was a fantastic day, with good wine, and good company, so thanks for bringing me along, Jim!

At the end of the day

At the end of the day





11 thoughts on “Buona Degustazione! A Day on the Strada del Vino in Friuli Venezia-Giulia

  1. Oh, what a frabjous day you had! In spite of the heat and whatnot, such an abundance of gorgeous scenery and interesting wine-related… everything! Heh. I’m so glad you a good time and I’m terribly curious about that wine from dried grapes now. Thanks for sharing all the lovely pics!

  2. I didn’t realize you could get to Cormons by train from Trieste. You might enjoy some more excursions up there. If you fancy a country lunch, you can get a taxi from the train station no doubt, to any number of really delicious places in the vinyards. Picolit is sometimes called a “meditation” wine. There is also a wine shop in Cormons that is dedicated to world peace.

    If you have cheapo outdoor markets in Trieste, you might try looking for some very cool summer palazzo pants or harem pants. They probably come from China or India, and they usually don’t cost more than 15 euros, and while they are not exactly uni-size, they are a pretty easy fit even if you are tall. I like them a bit better than skirts or shorts.

    Right now where I am it is a tad cool and a tad sprinkly with rain. Usually what happens is that somewhere around June 15, it’s like a flip gets switched, and it is summer. Real summer with real summer heat. Apricots and cherries come first, then we get all the great berries and melons. We try not to cook.

    Have the police found you yet? It will be great when you sign up for health care and discover that with your health card, prescription drugs cost less than a bottle of aspirin.

      • I’ve never had him close enough to the water to find out. I can’t trust him off leash around other animals, and can’t predict when they will be in his vicinity, so he usually only goes out for his daily constitutionals.

    • Cormòns is on the route to Venice via Gorizia and Pordenone, which is the train I take to get to my brother. I’ll have to talk to a couple of my friends here in Trieste about the idea of making a day of it, once we find some potential restaurants/agriturismos to check out.

      We’re getting the apricots and cherries right now. There’s something happening next weekend called Likof in San Floriano del Collio with winery tours and cherries and olive oil and free bus transport, though I’m not sure where you get the bus for it. The brochure doesn’t say. I think I found their website last weekend when I was poking around after the Cantine Aperte, but I’m not sure that had the information, either.

      The police just came this morning. I was barely awake, but it only took a couple of minutes. He did speak some English, but I still had to drag out my Italian from a slumbering brain to answer a couple of his questions. My brother’s supposed to come on Tuesday and we should be able to go to get me signed up for the health care system this week.

      Trieste has been wobbly between warm with glorious sun and rain/thunderstorms this week. Even in the rain, the temperature’s been relatively pleasant, so it hasn’t been that bad. I need to remember to just carry an umbrella around though, if the forecast says it might rain. It tends to come in relatively quickly, even if it doesn’t last all that long.

      Also – I found a thrift shop! A fairly large one, in fact. I didn’t get in there today as I got out of the house during pausa and they didn’t open again until 4pm, by which time my feet and knee hurt too much to keep walking, so I’d headed home already. I’m going to try to get there this week and pick up some kitchen stuff, look at the clothes, and poke around at possible small furniture pieces. My chairs and loveseat are supposed to get here in early June and I’ll need a little table for the library, and a lamp, at the very least. Once I’ve had a visit, I may write about it in my next blog. Yay, thrift stores!

  3. Yay thrift stores indeed! i’ll bet in Trieste you can find some true curios. Around where I live, it is still possible to find a few shops that are filled with the stuff that has just been dug out of some deceased grandmother’s house that dates back FOREVER.

    If you get back up to Cormons then the agriturismo La Subida is a really legendary place and for the quality it cannot be called expensive. You can rent a small house on the property if you are going with a group. The restaurant and wines are tops. Gorizia is another Italian small city I would very much like to re-visit. If I am not mistaken, Pordenone has a world class silent film festival at some point in the year.

    For the first time this season, I was able to eat dinner outside tonight. And the fireflies have arrived.

    • I’ll mention La Subida to my brother and perhaps we can go at some point. Thanks for the recommendation!

      Trieste tends to be pretty savvy regarding antiques, so I doubt there will be any low-cost treasures out there, but one never knows.

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