Bordered to the north by Austria and to the east by Slovenia there are four official languages recognised in this region, German, Slovene, Friulan and, of course, Italian. The capital, Trieste, is a hugely important commercial port providing an outlet for goods coming from all over central Europe and, indeed, it was the main port for the Austro-Hungarian Empire before being ceded to Italy after the First World War. To the north, the mountains of the Julian Alps with their vertiginous peaks provide spectacular scenery, whilst to the south the Marano Lagoon provides an oasis for wildlife as well as miles of beaches at the modern resort of Lignano Sabbiadoro. Well known to German and Austrian visitors, this region is perhaps less familiar to English-speaking travellers which is a shame because it has a lot to offer.
However, to fully understand how different this region is from the rest of the country try a visit to one of the major centres like Udine, Gorizia or, indeed, Trieste where the traces of all the different cultures that have influenced the development of the area in language, art, architecture and gastronomy can be properly appreciated.