Boasting a rich combination of coast and culture, the gorgeous village of Grado provides a sandy sanctuary for those seeking both stimulation and serenity. An evocative maze of medieval streets constitutes the historical centre, while vibrant beach huts and opulent mansions decorate the sparkling seafront. Luscious lagoons create a beautiful backdrop to this idyllic island, the islets of which house traditional reed huts still used by fishermen. Not surprisingly, seafood is the signature dish in this maritime gem, and intimate authentic taverns serve freshly caught fish to rival that of any gourmet restaurant.
Residing dramatically in the historical heart of Grado’s charming old quarter is the Basilica di Sant’Eufemia, the town’s most iconic landmark. Romanesque brickwork complements a soaring clock tower, upon which rests a spire reminiscent of a witches hat. Inside, a 6th century mosaic blankets the walls and the cathedral’s enthralling Lapidarium, or stone collection, can be discovered by ducking into a cloister.
Hiking is a popular activity in these luscious landscapes, so ensure you take advantage of the stunning coastal vistas on offer. A gentle ascension of one of the town’s many surrounding hills will afford breath-taking views of the surrounding lagoons and islets, upon which the small casoni huts can be glimpsed.
Grada’s historic centre bristles with atmospheric restaurants and rambunctious bars offering fine food and sweet liquor; considered the cosiest of this sparkling selection is Al Balaor, a wonderfully authentic tavern whose signature dish is homemade gnocchi smothered in indulgent gorgonzola cheese. (Calle Zanini, no. 3, 34073 Grado, Italy)