The names Friuli and Giulia refer to Julius Caesar whose armies conquered the territory, which, at the time, separated east from west Ethnically diverse peoples have populated this region: the ancient Veneti tribe, then the Celts, who were later conquered by the Romans, followed by the Byzantines This region was also a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire before joining Italy in the 1800’s World War II devastated the region resulting in parts of Collio, including some of the best vineyards, being conceded to the former Yugoslavia.
The return to glory has been difficult, but today Friulians are able to enjoy tidy profits from their acclaimed white wines Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Nero and Refosco are the dominant reds Traditionally light and fruity, these wines, with the application of modern techniques, are also becoming wines of heightened structure and intrigue Friulians are known to rediscover traditional varieties that have fallen by the wayside.
One of the best examples of which is the delightful, sweet wine made from Picolit Picolit does have the misfortune, however, of falling prone to floral abortion, a malady where flowering buds don’t develop properly and often lowers crop yields, which results in higher prices The cuisine of this secluded region is heavily influenced by the flavors of its Austrian and Slavic neighbors, and consequently meat is prevalent in the diet Prosciutto di San Daniele is a great source of regional pride as are the local cheeses including Montasio and ricotta which is often smoked and aged for grating.
Soups are popular Pastas include the ravioli like envelopes prepared with unusual recipes such as spinach, rye bread, raisins, potato, mint, and sometimes brandy, chocolate and cinnamon Breads are made with rye, barley flour and pumpkin The eastern influence is especially prominent in the stews and goulash of the region.
Not to be forgotten, desserts include strudel, potato biscuits and pumpkin fritters The city of Gorizia is world famous for its chocolate cake rolls called Gubana.