Sitting on the border of Italy and Slovenia, Gorizia makes a great day trip or stopover on a European road trip!
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Gorizia, Italy probably isn’t on your radar. Like much of northeast Italy, it’s one of those small cities that’s still packed with history, beauty, and great food. I’ve gathered up everything you should know to plan a day trip!
Gorizia sits only 90 minutes from both Aviano Air Base and Venice, so it’s an easy drive! I also recommend it as an option to stop for a good lunch a few hours of walking on a road trip – you can get a good feel of the place after spending the afternoon here, and then drive a few hours more to stay in Lake Bled or Zagreb.
A Quick Gorizia History
Like many of towns in northeastern Italy, Gorizia’s changed nationality a lot. It’s been ruled by the Holy Roman Empire, the Hapsburgs (Austrians), Venetians, French, and most recently, it was part of Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) briefly after WWII.
Because of all those border changes, the town has a twin on the other side of the Slovenian border, Nova Gorica (“new Gorizia” in Slovenian). We didn’t get to visit because of the pandemic border closing, but you can see quite a bit of it from the top of Gorizia!
It’s no wonder that the town has a dizzying amount of languages and influences. Italian, Slovenian, and Friulian (the regional dialect) can be seen on all the official government signage, and German is pretty common as well. There’s some English spoken here, but it’s not as common as major Italian cities.
Trattoria Alla Luna
Let’s be real: one of the best parts of day trips is a great lunch! For this, head straight to Trattoria Alla Luna. Their food is super traditional, much of it reflecting the town’s combination of Slovenian, Austrian, and Italian influences.
The place is quirky, with the walls and ceilings covered in random photos mixed in with baby laundry and pots and pans. There’s a bit more PG13 decor tucked here and there if you want a cheeky game of I Spy, also typical of small restaurants in Italy.
It’s very popular with locals so plan to make a reservation, even for a weekday. The staff don’t speak much English but they’re very patient, and the menu has translations available. If you speak Italian, it’s the kind of place where the old men chatting over coffee and grappa will strike up a conversation and ask you how you find yourself in Gorizia!
This is a great place to order frico, a regional delicacy of potatoes and cheese. On their menu, they translate the traditional friulian saying about good frico: “it’s so delicious, it’s resuscitates people,” which I kind of love! We usually share an order of frico, because it’s a bit heavy for a primo/first course.
They offer some unique cured meat options, like goose, if you want a more snacking-focused meal. Another dish we loved was the ljubljanska: veal or pork stuffed with ham and cheese, then pan-fried. It reminds me of a combination of schnitzel and chicken cordon bleu in one!
The main sight to see in Gorizia is the castle, which sits over the city along the Slovenian border. Some form of it has been there for over a thousand years. The version you can see now dates from when the Venetians rebuilt it in the 17th century. You can explore the castle as well as the small Museum of the Middle Ages on weekdays. It’s closed on weekends but you can still walk around the exterior sections and take in the view of the two cities!
It’s also worth spending some time walking around Gorizia. Like many European towns, there’s so much to soak in if you’re willing to wander a bit. The architecture reflects more Austrian than Italian styles, much like Trieste.
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