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Stressed and want to unwind? Yearning for a vacation that will soothe your mind and your soul? Then you need to head to the Central European beach where a holiday is a true vacation. Grado is a tiny island in north-east Italy surrounded by the Adriatic Sea that is known as the Sunny or Golden Island. You can just imagine how much light and beauty there is here. I can reach Grado by car in about 40 minutes from my city (Gorizia). On cooler days I’ve ridden my bike to the island and it has taken me about two hours.

Grado is a halfway point between Venice and Trieste, where the beauty of nature and a rich history can be enjoyed along with the delights of a sublime beach and restorative thermal treatments. At one time Grado was the favored getaway for Austrian-Hungarian nobility and tourists continue to flock to the island today.

Italy Grado.

Grado is a perfect place for a family vacation. Not only do the cluster of firs at the back of the main beach, only a few yards from the sea, add a touch of freshness to the sandy shore (perfect for keeping children out of the hot midday sun), but your family can enjoy the clean sand and abundant greenery as well. The cleanliness of the beaches and the area’s respect for the environment are guaranteed by the Blue Flag award given to Grado’s beach by a leading Italian environmental association. Also, thanks to the island’s geographical location, Grado’s year-round climate is usually mild and pleasant.

Grado. Ph. nagerw on flickr (flic.kr/p/7Zh6ed)

Grado also has a mix of natural virtues that add to the health and well being of the body. Aside from the mild, ventilated climate and the clean, iodine-rich air the island’s water and sand are enriched with beneficial salts. This mixture is renowned for having healing properties and is used by some to treat ailments from osteoarthritis and neurological disorders to muscular pain and post-trauma treatment. If you want to improve your health then Grado is probably just the ticket for you.

Beach in Grado. Ph. Michele Federico on flickr (flic.kr/p/8w8eHJ)

Over the years this small fishing village has gradually been transformed into a modern tourist resort. With new attractions like the Parco Termale Acquatico (located directly on the main beach this park boasts a sea-water pool and water massages) to fascinating historical sights like the Piazza Biagio Marin, which was recently refurbished and boasts beautiful mosaics, Grado has something for everyone.

GRADE – Our Lady of Barban.

One don’t-miss sight on the island is its lagoon. A virgin habitat that hides the remains of Roman ruins and the casoni, primitive houses of fishermen that feature domed thatched roofs, the area shouldn’t be passed over. One of the most remarkable aspects of the lagoon is the changes it goes through during the day and its incredible mutability.

Don’t Miss in Grado

– La Basilica of S.Eufemia, Sanctuary of Madonna di Barbana and Nature Reserve of Val Cavanata.

Boat trip among the isles of the lagoon. For further information call 0431-899111.

– The SPA! Grado’s spas became well known during the reign of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef. In 1892 the Emperor declared that Grado be the Official Spa of the Empire. Today this little town is one of the most popular in Italy for thermal tourism. Grado’s spa, which has recently been renovated, offers a rich range of services such as rehabilitation, hydrotherapy and beauty treatments. Grado’s secret is the right mix of modern technologies with natural methods.

Grado. Ph. Darij & Ana on flickr (flic.kr/p/6xi5Ma)

For The Gourmets

– Ristorante Al Canevon is situated in the oldest part of Grado and is famous for its fish.

– Ristorante All’Androna

– Ristorante Tivoli

– Trattoria Alla Buona Vite

– Trattoria da Mimì

– Trattoria de Toni

– Trattoria Alla Pergola

If you’re anything like me you will take particular pleasure in enjoying an evening in one of these restaurants or trattorie on the island, breathing in the fresh night air under a pergola. If you glance at the menus on the island you will notice certain traditions that characterize the dishes. Be sure to taste the Boreto a la Graisana, which is asparagus and fish cooked together in different ways. Most meals in Grado are best topped off with a fine wine from dry land such as Aquileia or Collio.

Lagoon in Grado. Ph. David Orban on flickr (flic.kr/p/8zfMhX)

Hotels in Grado

– Antica Villa Bernt (3 ***) hotelvillabernt.com/hotel.html

– Hannover (4 ****) hotelhannover.com

– Savoy (4 ****) hotelsavoy-grado.it

– Villa Erica ( 4 ****) hotelvillaerica.com

– Grand Hotel Astoria ( 4 ****) hotelastoria.it

By Elisa Bressan

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