The largest island of the lagoon archipelago of Grado hosts the county seat with the same name and since 1936 it has been connected to the mainland by a moveable bridge. A beach with very fine sand facing south makes the “Island of Sun” an exclusive destination that has won the Bandiera Blu (Blue Flag) award for the past 24 years.
Grado has two large beaches: the main lido runs alongside Viale Regina Elena, which then stretches out until it reaches Grado Pineta and Punta di Barbacale, for a total of more than 3 km of beach.
Another beach can be found in the most westerly part of the island, with a pier measuring approximately 600 metres that goes from a dam right up to the western edge of the historical town centre. In the most easterly area, apart from Grado Pineta, it is important to mention the Grado Golf Club, a vast golf course which is magnificently surrounded by the lagoon landscape, two Holiday villages and a few Camp sites.
Since 1237, every year, on the first Sunday in July, a long queue of boats festively adorned with flags travels from Grado entering the lagoon until it reaches the islet of Barbana, where there is a shrine where a precious and miraculous statue of Our Lady is kept and which was driven there by the force of the waves. So, for more than 700 years, the inhabitants of Grado thank the Virgin Mary for having saved them from a terrible epidemic: this is called the “Perdon di Barbana“(The Forgiveness of Barbana), one of the most ancient and heart-felt local traditions. Barbana is one of the largest of the hundreds of islands that are scattered throughout the Grado Lagoon.
The Grado Lagoon stretches out for more than 12 thousand hectares and it extends towards west to blend with the lagoon in Marano, which is the most beautiful within the entire Mediterranean basin, with its coastal belt measuring 25 kilometres long. A maze of canals and valleys among the “mote”, as the inhabitants of Grado call the small lagoon islets, covered with reeds and bushes. A timeless place, a realm of water, wind and silence. It is possible to visit the lagoon by hiring a boat or by availing of the taxi-boat service.
The Valle Cavanata Regional Natural Reserve is situated at the far east end of the Grado Lagoon, in the district of Fossalon. The reserve was originally used as a fishing valley and it was founded in 1996; it stretches out over an area measuring approximately 327 hectares. Valle Cavanata is situated very near to Grado and it can be easily reached by bike, thanks to a convenient cycle path. Inside the reserve, it is possible to see many types of natural environments. The Reserve is open all year round and interesting guided tours can be organised if booked in advance.
WHAT TO VISIT IN FRIULI The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is very interesting from the point of view of its history and landscape. The presence of beaches, splendid mountain landscapes and cities rich in culture, make Friuli-Venezia Giulia a tourist destination suitable for winter/summer sports enthusiasts, excursions and visits to art heritage cities. One of the most interesting from a historical and cultural viewpoint is Trieste. A visit to these places is not to be missed: Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia, the main town square; the Faro della Vittoria (Victory Lighthouse), in memory of the victims of the First World War; Miramare and Duino Castles; the Risiera di San Sabba Civic Museum, evidence of one of the most darkest periods of human history and Basovizza, a district in the municipality of Trieste, sadly known for its foiba. Other historically important sites in the region include: The Ponte del Diavolo (The Devil’s Bridge) in Cividale del Friuli, an important Lombard inheritance; the Military Memorial of Redipuglia, one of the largest military cemeteries in the world dedicated to war victims; The Basilica of Aquileia, near Grado; Piazza Libertà and Piazza San Giacomo in Udine and Gorizia Castle.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is an extremely rich region also from a naturalistic point to view. Ideal for those who love the sea, there are the renowned seaside resorts of Grado and Lignano Sabbiadoro or, near Trieste, there is Sistiana bay and the Karst Plateau, known for its white cliffs dropping sheer into the sea. The Friuli region represents an excellent choice also for enthusiasts of winter sports, hiking and trekking. The Carnia area, in the Carnic Alps is also a well-known destination. Other areas which are often visited are Ampezzo, Piancavallo, Sauris and Tarvisio.