From Lignano it is only a short distance to splendid cities of art like Trieste: one of the oldest parts of the Habsburg Monarchy from 1382 until 1918. In the 19th century, it was the most important port of one of the Great Powers of Europe. As a prosperous seaport in the Mediterranean region, Trieste became the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (after Vienna, Budapest, and Prague). In the fin-de-siecle period, it emerged as an important hub for literature and music.
However, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Trieste's union to Italy after World War I led to some decline of its "Mittel-European" cultural and commercial importance. Enjoying an economic revival during the 1930s and throughout the Cold War, Trieste was an important spot in the struggle between the Eastern and Western blocs. Today, the city is in one of the richest regions of Italy, and has been a great centre for shipping, through its port (Port of Trieste), shipbuilding and financial services.
Udine is the historical capital of Friuli. The area has been inhabited since the Neolithic age, and was later, most likely, settled by Illyrians.
Based on an old Hungarian legend, Attila (?–453), the great hun emperor built a hill there, when besieging Aquileia, because he needed a winter quarters billet: he instructed his soldiers to bring soil in their helmet and shield, because, the landscape was too flat, without any hill. He established the town there, and built a square-shape tower. Important archaeological sites like Aquileia, with the unique appeal of its paleochristian basilica and mosaic floors famous throughout the world.
San Daniele del Friuli is full of artistic heritage and famous for its raw ham, which is only produced here.
A short distance away is Spilimbergo and the headquarters of the Friuli Mosaic Artists’ School whose numerous works produced and scattered all over the world include the “Iridescent Thunderbolt”, displayed in the subway station at Ground Zero, New York.
The polygonal, nine-pointed star-shaped layout and the fortified circles of walls are still evidence of the "military" origin and vocation of Palmanova, which was founded in 1593 to defend the Eastern Friulian borders of the Republic of Venice against the Turkish incursions.
The lagoon layout around Grado and Marano stretches out for about 16,000 hectares between the Isonzo Estuary and the Tagliamento Estuary; the whole system formed between 1400 and 1600, and it is protected from the sea by a dune reef which is more or less covered by a vegetation of trees, grass and bushes.
In Sesto al Reghena, in the province of Pordenone, is a Benedictine abbey with Medieval frescoes from the school of Giotto, while the Longobard era is best expressed in the ducal city and capital of the Longobard kingdom Cividale del Friuli, with its most famous site the Longobard Temple. Cividale is also home to the famous Mitteleuropean arts festival, the Mittelfest.