What to do in a day in Aquileia, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia?
Aquileia is a small town in the province of Udine. With just over 3,000 inhabitants, it is known as the “Second Rome” and presents itself to its visitors in an unpretentious but very passionate way. Today we are going to meet Aquileia. Let’s go to Aquileia? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”.
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Aquileia is a small town located in the province of Udine, in Friulli-Venezia Giulia, and has just over 3,000 inhabitants. Its historical heritage is impressive and will hardly ever get you bored. The city developed around the patriarchal basilica, over a kilometer long, and merged with remnants of the ancient Roman city that existed there. Aquileia is crossed by the Natissa River and has an agricultural area.
Aquileia was founded by the Romans in the year 181 BC, and served as the basis for the empire’s struggle against the barbarians; due to its privileged location, it also served as an important commercial route by river, in addition to offering excellent roads for the transit of goods by road.
The main trade was in fine stones, such as various gemstones, glass and amber. It reached its peak under Caesar, and became the capital of X Regio Venetia et Hisstria. The city became so important that it became known as the ‘second Rome’. During the sack of the Huns of Attila, it was partially destroyed and, after the crisis of the Empire, Aquileia rebuilt itself through Christianity, becoming an ecclesiastical center.
Today the city preserves its history and its historical heritage in an affectionate and proud way, presenting tourists with true archeological, historical and architectural gems. It is not a city known for the great tourist mass and is ideal if you are looking for a quiet place, but full of incredible attractions! Aquileia is small, so you can visit it on foot easily, in a few hours. Ready for our tour? So here we go!
1) What to do in a day in Aquileia, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia? Visit The Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta!
It is impossible not to start our tour in the heart of the city: the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta. The Basilica is a real masterpiece; there is no other word to describe it! The mosaic floor is impressive and uniquely beautiful: there are 760 square meters of pure generosity of images; furthermore, this is the largest early Christian mosaic in the western world.
In Romanesque-Gothic style, it also has a 73-metre high bell tower. Inside the Basilica, we find a majestic environment! Inside, we can see a row of columns on both sides and an elegant wooden ceiling. The works present at the site also draw attention and, without a doubt, some of the most noteworthy are: the double knot of Solomon, the image of Christ and the symbol used to indicate the Earth in the Middle Ages (the four corners of the world).
Be sure to also see the crypt of the excavations where the foundations of the bell tower are located, the Baptistery with its beautiful octagonal shape and hexagonal basin and the Südhalle, which is the south hall of the Baptistery, which also features a beautiful floor made in mosaics. Also impressive is the frescoed ceiling, located above the main altar, known as the Crypt of Frescoes. Entirely painted with scenes related to the evangelist Mark, the paintings date back to the 12th century; the site was built in the ninth century and was built to house the relics of the martyrs of Aquileia, Hermagoras and Fortunatus. Splendid. The Basilica is dedicated to St Mary of the Assumption and Saints Hermagoras and Fortunatus.
If possible, buy your ticket in advance, especially if you are traveling during peak season. Read also How to buy tickets to the main monuments in Italy?
2) What to do in a day in Aquileia, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia? Know Fondo Cal!
Leaving the Basilica, we head to an archaeological site of great importance, the Fondo Cal. Here, you can see the various ruins of ancient Roman houses built during the empire’s rule in the city. Noteworthy is the Domus Est, which, according to historians, was the colonnaded courthouse. There you can also see the house of Dionysus and old thermal baths, where the mosaic of the Good Shepherd, from the 4th century, is still visible. Do not miss the Domus Ovest too. There you will find an old house with mosaics in black and white tiles, distributed in several rooms and corridors. It is, in fact, a very special place in Aquileia.
3) What to do in a day in Aquileia, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia? Go to National Archaelogical Museum of Aquileia
Near Fondo Cal, you will find the magnificent National Archaeological Museum of Aquileia, which has been in operation since 1882. The site presents us with a true timeline of the city’s history. There you can see the entire history of Roman Aquileia, for example. The building has three floors and offers real relics of the city such as sculptures, statues, coins, precious stones, works of art and much more.
On the ground floor are the statues and sculptures; on the first floor, you can find a number of gold jewels and (beautiful!) amber objects, and on the second floor you can see beautiful mosaics, including some from the 1st century BC This place is really worth a visit! The ticket costs 7 euros. Know here: How much money should I take to Italy?
4) What to do in a day in Aquileia, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia? Visit the Baroque Church of St Anthony of Padua
Leaving the museum, stop for a coffee and take a look at the Baroque Church of St Anthony of Padua. Its exterior does not betray its internal beauty, which, with simplicity, enchants us. Built in 1697, it has a square floor plan, and a facade with four columns and some statues, highlighting St Anthony, of course. Inside the site, we can see several majestic frescoes and the dome fresco, one of the most beautiful, was attributed to Ludovico Dorigny.
5) What to do in a day in Aquileia, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia?
Discover the Roman Tomb
After this brief visit, we followed the tour to the Roman Tomb. The Roman Tomb is an archaeological area that explains many details of the Roman funerary customs. It is worth remembering that, at that time, the Romans did not authorize burials in inhabited centers and, therefore, cemeteries were built outside the walls of Roman cities.
Here you will find several copies of sarcophagi, inscriptions and statues, while the originals are in the Aquileia Archaeological Museum that we visited earlier. Here you can also see examples of the two forms of burial many used by the Romans: cremation and burial. Ah, another thing: the view from here is splendid!
6) What to do in a day in Aquileia, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia? Visit the Fluvial Port
To conclude our short tour, visit the Fluvial Port. This structure is one of the best preserved in the world and is, in fact, very charming. Warehouses, defensive walls and a customs office surrounded the port; in the back, a village where sailors and local officials lived. Well organized, the port had two types of berths: a larger and a smaller one, with berthing depending on the size of the ship; boats were also moored either vertically or horizontally, depending on the tide and the size of the maritime medium used, and this gives us an idea of the genius of the Romans!
ATTRACTIONS IN AQUILEIA- MAP
GOOD TO KNOW….
To get to know in detail all the places mentioned and, if you wish, to include other places of interest in your itinerary, you can visit the official website of Aquileia attractions. The places mentioned in this post are unmissable, but the city offers us, above all, an incredible natural beauty. Therefore, I suggest you take a walk in the streets of Aquileia without fear of getting lost: observe the architecture, the quiet life for locals and rest assured: the city will make you miss it!
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What to do in a day in Aquileia, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia? Aquileia is not a big city, but it has an immense historical heritage that draws the attention of even the most demanding tourists! Historic, the city offers itself in a simple way, but blends a unique elegance and welcomes its visitors in an unforgettable way.
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