The current size of Aquileia - a small, sleepy town in a barren landscape 15 minutes from Grado away - is the opposite reciprocal of its historical significance. And that is huge. Not less impressive are the mosaics that exist to be admired here.
181 BC, the city was founded as a Roman military colony on the river Natisone, under Augustus the capital of X. Region Venetia et Histria. It was finally given up 699 with the invasion of the Lombards.
The reason of its importance is its geographical location and the fact that Aquileia was the first major city in northern Italy at the end of the Amber Road. And it was by the road leading in the province of Noricum (today more commonly known as "Austria").
By the river Natisone, from which one can still admire today only a sad trickle, Aquileia was connected to the sea, which made it one of the most important commercial centers and an important military base. Today one can still see the remnants of the Roman ports and shipyards - not to mention the striking remains of a Roman temple nearby.
Finally, the column with the she-wolf suckling the square in front of the basilica makes it clear who rules the empire.
Another high point was experienced in the early Middle Ages by Christianity. Since 572 the bishop was also Patriarch and thus the highest dignitary immediately after the Pope. Nevertheless, the city gradually lost its political and religious importance due to its swampy and exposed situation and the rise of Venice.
Hike peacefully in the remains of the Roman city, along the river port to the Forum and the Via Sacra.
The medieval basilica dates back to the the patriarchal period. Its mosaic floor (from the early 4th Century) is the most important in Italy - unique in its size and splendor. You can visit many remarkable art treasures in the National Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Early Christian.
And if you by chance settle in a bar for a glass of wine, perhaps you can manage to determine that so many natives have steel-blue eyes and fiery red hair - a genetic trait from the Lombards.
Basilika: daily from 7.30 - 12.30 and 15.00 - 17.30
Archaeological Museum: Tuesday - Sunday 8:30 to 19:00
(Monday from 8:30 to 14:00)
Admission: € 4 - (€ 2 - for young people)
- Who likes Grado could probably love Caorle.