Grado

  • Grado is a beautiful island, full of sandy beaches and rich vegetation, nestled in the upper Adriatic between Venice and Trieste and tied to Friuli by a narrow roadway which crosses over the evocative lagoon. For the Romans, Grado was an important port for trade with the east, and indeed Grado (from the Latin “gradus”, quay) may well be the most ancient tourist location in the Mediterranean. This tradition was confirmed in 1892 when the city was recalled in the official records of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, being included in the list of treatment and health centres as a seaside thermal spa.

    Here life is easy going, with the relaxed pace of a seaside town. Stroll along the sea front and through the winding streets of the old town, enjoy fascinating visits to Roman and early Christian churches, explore the lagoon- a protected natural oasis and home to many tales from folklore and legend- or let the traditional flavours of the Adriatic tempt your taste buds. Grado offers a wide range of possibilities to fulfil the wishes of anyone with a taste for an authentic and natural way of life.

    Far removed from urban and industrial areas, it is lapped by marine currents on one side and the splendid lagoon on the other. Thanks to this geological phenomenon and the effect of the sun’s rays, Grado enjoys a remarkably beneficial climate, characterised by a high concentration of health-giving iodine. The weather is warm, mild and temperate, never stuffy or humid, and throughout most of the year visitors can be sure of a comfortable stay.

    It’s easy to fall in love with the golden islands of Grado, brimming with colour and the traditions of the sea, and it’s easy to see why it was such an inspiration to writers such as Ippolito Nievo, Thomas Mann, Luigi Pirandello, Pierpaolo Pasolini and Grado’s own great poet Biagio Marin.

  • Ancient Times

    Grado began life as an important part of the port structure in Aquileia, the ancient roman city a few kilometres inland. Grado was the natural stopping point for ships arriving from the Adriatic, before passing up the Natisone river to reach the Roman town of Aquileia.

    In 452 AD the people of Aquileia took refuge in Grado, fleeing from Attila the Hun and his armies, who conquered and destroyed the ancient roman town. At the same time, some of the people fleeing from Aquileia for the same desperate reasons headed further east and founded the city of Venice.

    However, as the centuries passed, Venice came to be more important and powerful, and eclipsed Grado’s historical fame. Nonetheless, Grado remained (with some dispute) as the important provisional seat and residence of the Patriarchate of Aquileia.

    Medieval Times

    With the fall of the Longobard reign at the hands of the Francs, Venice rose to take full power in the area.

    The decree of the council of Mantova (827 AD) brought about the end of the provisional seat of the Patriarchate of Aquileia in Grado. Its place was taken by the Conte Provveditore, chosen from the members of the Maggior Consiglio, who acted as the representative of the central authority.

    From then on, Grado became a tranquil seaside town, enjoying a quiet life at the pace of the sea rhythms.

    Recent History

    In 1815 Grado became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and its administration was connected to the county of Gorizia. With the collapse of the Empire, after its disastrous experience of the first world war, Grado definitively became Italian.

  • The lagoon of Grado, which reaches all the way to Venice is covered with an archipelago made up of over a hundred enchanting islets, covered in rich vegetation. This is the most easterly part of the lagoons, which once included the whole arch of the Adriatic, but which is nowadays mostly covered by the sea. It is an intricate and fascinating network of canals and silent islands, covered in whispering reeds.

    Covering over 12,000 hectares, this natural and protected oasis is the home to innumerable local species in an exceptional ecosystem of flora and fauna which has been left undisturbed over the years. It is the perfect place to observe the abundant variety of sea birds and waterfowl who make their nest here and visit during their migrations. These include ducks and seagulls, garganey and baikal teal, coots and mallards as well as magnificent and regal herons.

    Imagine yourself surrounded by unspoiled nature gazing at a splendid and silent vista over the glittering silver sea, caressed by a delicate sea breeze which wafts the enticing and evocative aroma of the sea and the sun around you. Imagine yourself savouring exquisite seafood fresh from the sea, staying as a guest on a small island filled with lush vegetation and living in a traditional "casone" – the ancient fishermen’s cottages native to Grado, with their characteristic thatched roofs.

    This, then, is the Nature Reserve of the Lagoon of Grado. Beneath the splendid blue of limpid summer skies, filling visitor’s hearts with a sense of genuine peace and reinvigorating wellbeing. A true oasis.

  • Grado’s historical town centre is full of evocative calli (narrow alleyways), picturesque campielli (squares), and gorgeous enclosed gardens. It is here that visitors will find numerous restaurants offering the very finest of Grado’s culinary tradition, their inviting tables set out under airy pergolas.

    The undisputed centrepiece of Grado’s gastronomic heritage is seafood. It is the bedrock of the rich and authentic flavours preserved in the remarkable recipes which have been jealously guarded throughout history and carefully handed down from one generation to the next.

    Grado’s traditional cooking offers a remarkable choice of delectable fish dishes. One of the most famous and delicious of these is "boreto". This is a mouth-watering local soup which is made, according to taste and the fishing season, with one or more types of fish.

    As well as the wealth of local and hard to find fish, there is an almost unending variety of the freshest shellfish from both the sea and the lagoon.