For the new One For The Road series, Vice correspondent Pia Hellenthal traveled to the northern region of Italy known as Friuli Venezia Giulia to mingle with the locals, explores the sights, and drink the local spirits—oh, so many glasses of wine.
A vacation destination for intellectual luminaries like James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and Rainer Marie Rilke in their respective eras, Friuli exists as a destination for those who want to get lost in the modern world. According to many Hemingway's biographer these places provoked a sort of enchantment that let him able to express his worries and obsessions, his aging and the dream for a new youth. These ideas were the structure of his well known: “Across the River and into the Trees.”
In Italy's north-eastern most region, it is bordered by Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east, and features a terrain that ranges from the wintery alps to beach-side mediteranean. It was also a hot-bed of war activity during both World Wars as it's location led to many land-battles over who it belonged to. This has led to Friuli Venezia Giulia becoming one of Italy's five autonomous regions with special statute—acknowledging their powers in relation to legislation, administration and finance, but having to finance their own health-care system, school system and most public infrastructures. This has led to a unique culure with varied economies, but one that has become well-known for its cured ham and wines. Lots of wine. Especially white ones.
We took a few moments to ask Pia about her trip, and find out more about what we should expect from the Friuli Venezia Giulia episode of One For The Road. Apparently tattoos were on the docket. Here's what she had to say.
Since the name is Italian, Slovenian and German, what language is most common?
Italian. There is a lot of broken German around though.
With mountainous terrains, beaches, and bordering Austria and Slovenia, Friuli Venezia Giulia is not the typical Italy we think of. What shocked you most, or took you most by surprise by your travels there?
The Friuli People drink three times as much as the rest of Italy. Fan-tas-tic.
[Statue of James Joyce]
As a destination / influence for the likes of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Rainer Maria Rilke and others, what do you think drew so many artists to this region?
Drink. (Well and the fact that there is a lot of inspiration because of its cultural, social and natural diversity.)
Are there still remnants of their time spent in Friuli Venezia Giulia?
Not that I have seen it but I was not looking for it either, so I suppose there are somewhere.
Hemingway's biographer said Friuli Venezia Giulia brought out his worries and obsessions. Did it bring out any of your worries or obsessions?
Not more or less than any other place. Thats interesting though, too bad we can´t ask him why. (Maybe it was just the wine…)
As a main region of operations during both World Wars, are there still remnants of the fighting? Or remnants of all the cultures who fought over this territory?
There is a lot of love for Austria everywhere. Flags and many warm words. And a pride of knowing some German.
We hear the white wine in Friuli Venezia Giulia is pretty good, did you do any tasting while there? Can you give us a recommendation?
I forgot the name – that´s how good it was. So yes, i did quite some tasting. Thats basically the first thing you get wherever you go.
“Here, Girl, have some wine!“
Tune into Vice for more episodes of Pia's One For The Road series.