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The small town of Grado is situated on a peninsula at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea between Trieste and Venice in north-eastern Italy and has become one of the most popular destinations with visitors to the region.
This popularity began due to the role of Grado as a spa town and has continued due to the pleasant environment and high level of facilities provided.
The town is pleasant to explore with an extensive pedestrianised centre and old town with a good selection of shops and cafes, and a pleasant harbour. The main monuments of artistic value in Grado itself are found in the old town, in the so-called 'Campo dei Patriarchi'.
Basilica of Saint Euphemia and the Lapidary
The basilica in Grado has a three-part façade with two doors and three large windows of an early Christian type. To the right of the front of the cathedral there is a 15th century bell-tower, while inside it has an early Christian structure (three naves, columns and capitals).
The building is typical of Byzantine architecture being decorated with mosaics, and it was the cathedral of the Patriarchs of Grado until the mid-15th century.
In the apse of the church you can see a large fresco of Christ surrounded by symbols of the “Tetramorph” (the “Christian tetramorph” presents the four evangelists and four saints). Take a look as well at the altar which is decorated with a big silver painting, donated by the Venetian patrician Donato Mazzalorsa in the 14th century.
To the east of the Basilica of St. Euphemia is the Lapidary, which exhibits many finds from Roman times - these inscriptions are presented chronologically, from the first to the fourth century AD.
Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
Another valuable religious monument in Grado is the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built in the late 6th century by Patriarch Elijah and one of two early Christian basilicas in Grado.
The church was built on the site of a previous basilica that dates from the first half of the 5th century and the south aisle and the apse, covered with mosaics, date from this earlier building.
The Basilica has a square shape, and the interior is divided into three naves separated by two rows of five marble columns from various sources. The left aisle contains a wooden statue of the “Madonna delle Grazie”.
The church overlooks the Campo dei Patriarchi, just north from the Basilica of Saint Euphemia and the Baptistery.
Other highlights around Grado
The nearby lagoon of Grado is very evocative and characterized by numerous islets. Of particular interest are the archaic “casoni” (huts) of straw that were once used by fishermen.
The best known of these islands is the Island of Barbana with the Shrine of Our Lady of Barbana, an important ancient pilgrimage site dating from the 6th century - be sure to look at the frescoes inside the church when you visit.
The varied landscape of Grado is accompanied by a varied culinary tradition and the result is a truly varied and tasty cuisine, with fish from the coastal areas, vegetables and meat from farm animals, and also game and local produce.
Enjoy some of these local specialities with the local wines of Friuli, which are known throughout Italy and which accompany local dishes such as the anchovy “all'aguglia”, “lanzardo alla palamita”, and the tuna.
See also history of Grado.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia guide.