The town of Grado is a 40 minute bus ride through fields of grain from the town of Monfalcone, where I am staying with my Italian relatives. As the bus gets close to Grado, you notice swampy marshes, a distant church on what appears to be an island and canals lined with moored boats. It makes me think of how close we are to Venezia, which is only under 100km further along the Adriatic coast but how completely different Grado is. The bridge that joined Grado to mainland Italy was built in 1936 and prior to that, it was a boat trip away.
Although Grado is known as a beach resort with hundreds of predominantly German tourists making their way south for the summer, the old Medieval quarter of the town is quite beautiful. It is small but has many calle (streets) like there are in Venezia. In addition there is Byzantine church, Sant’Eufemia with lovely mosaics and the Lapidario di Grado, which houses many relics and fragments from Roman times.
We stopped for lunch to taste some local fish at Trattoria Vittoria in the old quarter and had a lovely meal including sarde in saor and seppie in umido con polenta bianca for entree. I make sardines in the same way (fried then layered with onions that have been cooked with olive oil and vinegar and rested at least 24 hours to allow the flavours to infuse) but these were sweeter with a hint of acidic tang. I will definitely try to change my recipe to incorporate the flavours I tasted.
For mains we shared a grilled fish platter of scampi and seppie (cuttlefish) plus grilled local fish Asia’. The grilled seppie were very tender and the Asia’ melted in your mouth – I had never tried this local fish before and it was delicious.
After lunch we took a walk to try to find the Gelateria where I had eaten peach and basil gelato on my last visit to Grado in 2006. Providence was clearly on my side as I found it and happily enjoyed a large cone of it whilst strolling along the promenade near the beach – which was the perfect end to a lovely day before catching the bus back to Monfalcone.
And of course we had enjoyed the beach before lunch, which is what attracts most of the crowds to Grado. I loved walking along one of the many piers that jut out into the Adriatic sea. I looked across towards Venezia on my right and towards our next stop, Istria on my left.