Gardens and Highlights of Friuli Venezia Giulia

FVG is a very beautiful region in the North Eastern corner of Italy, on the Border with Slovenia to the East and Austria to the North. It was subject to the Absburg Empire up until WWI, and the influences are still very strong, both in architecture, food, traditions and thankfully in gardening, too.

The area of Gorizia is characterized by ancient castles and fortified villas and hamlets surrounded by agricultural land (back then) and vineyards (today). Italian style gardens complement the rigid, defensive structure of these properties. Two amazing castles on the coast in Trieste are very different and offer very romantic gardens. For the rest, we have many small private, contemporary gardens made by amateurs with great passion. During the week we will sample a variety of types of gardens and parks. But Friuli is a lot more, it offer fantastic landscapes, great food and amazing wine. We will sleep in the heart of our Wine making region COLLIO – at the romantic Abbey of Rosazzo, which also happens to host a collection of ancient roses. You will also have time to walk independently in the villages and towns at the end of the day – please note that shops and museums close at 7 here in Italy.  This itinerary aims at showing you the best in terms of gardens, hospitality, food and landscapes. It allows for a slow holiday, the daily transfers are about 20 to 30 minutes so that we’ll spend most of the time in gardens and outdoors, rather than in the bus. The period we have chosen is the highest peak for Roses, but lots of other plants will be in flower. The rose season here is much earlier than in the UK.

Available datesMid May to end of June.

Day 1:

Departure from Trieste airport at 5.30 pm for Sesto al Reghena, where we will settle down at the hotel and have dinner.

Day 2:

After breakfast we depart for Cordovado where we will meet Bendetta Piccolomini, owner, with her 9 brothers and sisters of the medieval Castle of Cordovado. Benedetta is a garden designer with a particular interest for biodynamic methods, healing gardens and naturalistic gardening. She has been restoring historical gardens in Veneto and Friuli, and is now concentrating on the maintenance and development of the Garden of the Cordovado Castle, dating back to 1700. She has recently planted 3000 Rosa Damascena from cuttings for her new project, which she will talk us and walk us through.

We will have lunch at the Castle, under Bendetta’s own pergola.

After lunch Bendetta will take us to a nearby village to show us a small historical garden she has restored, next to it a beautiful museum of country life worth visiting.

After waving Benedetta off, we will drive towards Collio, our famous wine making region, where we will lodge at the Ancient and beautiful Abbey of Rosazzo for the next 5 nights. (50 minutes drive)

In the evening we will walk to the restaurant for dinner, as a group or individually.

Day 3:

After breakfast we will have a walk along the historical rose trail of the Abbey. We will then move along the Collio winding roads towards Gorizia, the botanical jewel of the Absburg empire, thanks to its favourable climate was considered the Absburg Nice.

Here we will visit Giardino Viatori, a one man botanical adventure lasted several decades. Luciano Viatori, the creator has recently died and the garden is now tendered by his best friends, as a trust.

It is a panoramic garden on the side of a hill, with a shady gorge filled with rhododendron and azaleas, the sunny side hosts magnolias, cherry trees, a lush pond and gorgeous drifts with all sorts of mediterranean collections. Several beautiful borders and beds.

Picnic lunch in a vineyard.

After lunch we will cross the Slovenian border and visit Marinka’s smuggled garden. It is a very English cottage garden filled with magnificent roses and perennials, she managed to smuggle through the border during the last war.

Coming back we will stop at a nearby renowned vineyard for a panoramic wine tasting at sunset.

Day 4:

After breakfast we will visit Vito Corgnali’s private garden. He is one of the oldest amateur gardeners in the region, who has created, with his wife, a magnificent garden full of interest year round. Deep mixed borders with annuals, perennials and shrubs, roses, trees, conifers creating surprise and wonder at each corner.

We will then visit a magic, elegant garden made by a lady who specialises in violas and ivys

We will have packed lunch before taking the boat on the laguna of Grado to visit the ancient Monastery of Barbana. We will end the day here in Grado, where the group will be free to wander through the historical centre, see the roman ruins and enjoy dinner in the many good trattorias before going back to the Abbey for the night.

Day 5:

Today we will move up North to visit private gardens of Moruzzo.

A small cottage garden, a large panoramic garden with ancient roses and magnificent trees and shrubs where we will have lunch.

Coming back we will stop in Cividale del Fiuli, a picturesque Lombard town dating back to 50 BC, when it was originally founded by Julius Cesar. Wonderful views from the Devil’s Bridge, one of the finest and best preserved examples of Lombard temples, a welcoming piazza full of friendly bars and tavernas to stop for a drink or dinner, many small alleys taking you back in centuries of history.

You’re all free to dine where you prefer.

Day 6:

Today we will explore the fascinating seaside province of Trieste.

We will start with a panoramic walk above the limestone cliffs between Sistiana and Duino, reaching the ancient Castle where we will visit the private gardens and the Castle itself, its grottoes and ruins on the clear blu sea of Trieste Gulf.

Picnic lunch provided.

We will then sail our way to Trieste, through the most wonderful white cliffs of the region.

We will end the day in Trieste taking in the grandeur of a long lost empire.

Day 7:

On our last day we will visit the most romantic Rose garden of our region and perhaps of Italy.

Eleonora and Valentino Garlant created and tender a collection of old roses of over 5000 specimens, each of which has a fascinating story Eleonora will tell you if you are willing to listen.

On their 30th wedding anniversary, Valentino gifted Eleonora with 30 old roses, sparking a beautiful love affair that has grown deeper and deeper since.

With gorgeous views over the nearby abbey and several orchards, kitchen gardens and borders, this garden is the perfect last visit to our Viaggio Friulano.

After lunch we will drive to the airport and depart.


Costs per person (calculated on two people sharing a bedroom) 1650 EUR including all accommodation, breakfast and lunch, minivan for the whole length of the trip, English and Italian speaking tour manager, all guided visits and entrances as mentioned in the program, gratuities.