Grado, a charming lagoon city

2 minutes to read

Grado is a historic seaside town located on a lagoon island along Italy's north-east Adriatic coast, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The town, which has a population of 9,000, is in the Province of Gorizia and is very near the head of the Adriatic Sea. Smaller than Venezia, but with its fair share of charm and history, Grado is lagoon city with 1600 years of history, which can still be experienced by strolling the calli (streets) of the ancient city center. Sandy beaches, clean and calm waters, and several entertainment activities make Grado an ideal family destination. Grado has been awarded the prestigious eco-label ‘Blue Flag’ for 27 straight years. A fun way to explore the Grado lagoon is by going on a boat excursion. For example, you can visit the Barbana Sanctuary, located on a small island, where the original church dates from the 6th century.

Grado has a Venetian Style historic town center where you can wander through the alleyways and squares flanked by picturesquely cluttered fishermen's houses. Its medieval quarter, filled with winding lanes, Belle Époque architecture and the remains of Roman villas, it’s the ideal place for your evening passeggiata and sampling local fare in little trattorie. Along the seafront, the picturesque harbour gazes out on tiny fisherman’s huts, reachable by boat trips out to the lagoon. The centre of Grado is absolutely packed with places to eat and drink, most of them priced very reasonably. Even in winter, when many are closed, there is still a respectable choice. Many smart, atmospheric and appealing restaurants are dotted through the lanes of the centro storico.

Grado deserves to be known also on occasion of its traditional events always rich in typical food and amazing wine. The most antique is for sure the Perdon de Barbana, the main religious tradition festival of the city. Since 1237, on the first Sunday of July, the community of Grado goes in procession on boats, decorated with flags, to the Barbana Island, to renew the ancient vow to the Virgin Mary who saved the town from the terrible plague epidemic. Originally, at least one member for each family of the town had to attend the procession. Perdòn starts in the early morning and it is preceded by the Sabo grando, a day of contemplation and reflection. After the ceremony in Basilica di Sant’Eufemia, the statue of the Virgin is carried to the harbor where it is put on the flagship. The procession of boats leaves the lagoon and reaches the small island that hosts the Sanctuary of Barbana.

Another traditional festival is the Festa del pesce Azzurro that takes place in july and gives you the chance to discover the true soul of the city. Fishing indeed has always been the means of subsistence for the people of this area, and the casoni (typical reed huts), that the fisherman used to shelter in, can still be seen all over the lagoon. Fish cooking is based on time-honoured traditions, the most famous local dish being the boreto a la graisàna.

The author

Eleonora Ruzzenenti

Eleonora Ruzzenenti

I am Eleonora, from Italy. I share with you a frenetic passion for travelling and an insatiable curiosity for different cultures. On itinari, you will find my stories about Italy.

Stories you might also like