Grab a lounge chair by the beach in Grado, Italy
Stars and Stripes September 14, 2023
The Italian coastline between Venice and Trieste is dotted with small towns that swell dramatically into seaside resorts during the summer months.
Separated from the rest by the Marano Lagoon, Grado isn’t dramatically different from Caorle, Lido, Lignano and Jesolo. They all boast countless beach chairs along the Adriatic Sea and plenty of sun.
For those who aren’t sure whether they want to show a sunlight-starved body in a bikini, show no fear here, because the many tourists from Germany and Austria that come here certainly aren’t.
The Germanic visitors aren’t new to this area; Friuli-Venezia Giulia was once a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, after all.
And various tribes from north and east were moving through the area much earlier than that with the fall of the Roman Empire. Aquileia, formerly one of the Romans’ most important cities, is only a few miles away.
Evidence of that is, in theory, on display in the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology of the Upper Adriatic. A Roman merchant vessel was found decades ago off the coast. But the museum is a frequent target of scorn from reports that say it’s never open, as was the case last time I was there.
Much of the city’s core features multistory buildings for commercial and residential use that can be seen in just about any city in the region. A few of the hotels try to stand out architecturally.
There are numerous pedestrian streets nicely lined with shady trees where tourists can check out clothes, souvenirs or dine on Italian seafood. Ristorante Al Viale gets high marks, albeit from a mostly non-Italian clientele.
But most don’t come to Grado for the shade or the city blocks. That large concrete barrier serves as a walkway between two main beach areas. The beach to the west features hundreds of lounge chairs for rent.
A few more sophisticated ones have nicer chairs and curtains. Daily prices range from 5 euros for a sun chair to 6 euros for an umbrella, to 40 euros for a curtained gazebo. But the real indicator about the nature of Grado is that price plans exist not only for weeks or even months, but seasons.
So, while merchants and residents in nearby Venice complain of day-tripping hordes of tourists, that doesn’t appear to be a concern here.
A day trip from Aviano Air Base remains very viable, though. And for those looking for long days of sightseeing, ancient mosaics at Aquileia and the fortress city of Palmanova – which also boasts an outlet mall – are just minutes away.
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On the QT
Directions: Grado is just more than an hour’s drive from Aviano. Take the A28 to the A4 autostrada and head towards Trieste. Take the Palmanova exit and then the SR252 (through Aquileia) to Grado.
Times: Beaches are generally closed when the sun goes down. Other than some restaurants and hotels, much of the city follows suit.
Cost: There’s pay parking places in spots, but there are free places near the large canal that separates the commercial and residential sectors. Turn left at the second traffic circle, cross the bridge, drive a block and turn right to find a narrow road. Park uphill facing the canal.
Information: The tourist office is at Campo Porta Nuova No. 26, Angolo Piazza XXVI Maggio. Phone: (39) 0431 877111; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Online: facebook.com/grado.turismo