The village of San Daniele del Friuli, a jewel set at the centre of the Friulian territory, offers an always enchanting spectacle in every season, literally. But between the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn, it offers glimpses of beauty even more stunning, if this is possible. To its right the Tagliamento flows, a river that embodies the spirit of this land. After all, our beloved Prosciutto di San Daniele wouldn’t exist without its bends and currents. Behind it the beautiful hills stretch at the foot of the mountains. And as you have learned, San Daniele del Friuli is not only a synonym with prosciutto crudo, far from it!
It is a historic centre full of elegance and history, perfect for tremendous walks (punctuated with recommended refreshments). Wherever you look, you can smell the scent of the past.
The Sistine Chapel of Friuli
You can for instance get lost, around Via Garibaldi, in the incredible frescoes of the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate. In this structure, called the “Sistine Chapel of Friuli”, the walls were painted by the expert hands of Martino da Udine, also known as Pellegrino(pilgrim) da San Daniele, who completed the work between 1497 and 1522. But the story of this building goes further back in history. Even if its current Gothic facade might suggest it was built in more recent times, you should know that this was the church of the Hospital of Sant’Antonio, actually consecrated in 1308, and it suffered major damage in 1348. Following some reconstruction work, it was consecrated once more in 1470. This place of worship gives us way to talk about the church of Santa Maria della Fratta, whose Gothic – Venetian facade is made of Istrian stone and recalls that of Sant’Antonio Abate. This late – medieval construction was built close to a sort of earlier tower, now contained in the apse. With its frescoes and bas-reliefs, this building is definitely one of the most precious gems of “Medio Friuli”.
The beauties of San Daniele: The Guarnerian library
And what should we say about the historic Guarnerian library? This absolute gem is also unique becaue of its birth, In fact, in the 15th century in Italy libraries were usually real private collections. This was the innovative idea: the parish archpriest of San Daniele del Friuli, Guarnerio D’Artegna (hence its name), wanted the library to be open to the public and managed by its own community. On his death, in 1466, the Guarnerian library as we know it now, opened with an initial collection of 172 manuscripts. From Ugo Foscolo to Ippolito Nievo, up to Giosué Carducci, the great masterpieces of Italian literature visited these walls pulsing with history.
Between the Duomo and the Portonat
Or even, still hanging around within the heart of the village, what about the Portonat? Near Piazza Dante, we find this majestic tower with a quadrangular base, facing Gemona, built around 1580. It is grafted on a round arch and it was designed by one of the greatest architects of Reinassance Italy, the Venetian Andrea Palladio.
In the very heart of the village, true epicenter, we also find the Duomo di San Michele Arcangelo. This impressive structure designed in 1700 by the architect Domenico Rossi, is divided into two beautiful domes. In the neoclassical and baroque taste of its facade we even find some artistic statements from Giambattista Tiepolo, already active at that time in the region.
So, as you can understand, San Daniele rhymes with its famous prosciutto crudo. But behind it you breathe a historical atmosphere wich is worth delving into and experiencing with a nice trip to this land where beautiful places are combined with mouth-watering wine and food. The beauties of San Daniele are just waiting for you.