By Laura Bonjean

Udine, Udine, Udine. Coming to this small city located in north-eastern Italy, in the middle of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, will make you feel like you are experiencing the authentic Italian lifestyle as you witness terraces filling up by 5pm for the aperitivo, while seeing painters in the streets and the surrounding mountains. Despite the town being ideally situated between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps, the cold and gloomy weather might make you seek for the warmth of nice and cosy places. Indeed, although the streets and the centre of the city match with what one can imagine an Italian town to look like, its weather might make you think you just arrived in Normandy… And, being off the touristic path, it can be a struggle to find a spot where you’re surrounded by locals while enjoying the occasional mingle with international and Italian students. 

Instead of wandering in the streets looking for shelter, the following piece provides an overview of the Euroculture students of the 2022-2024 cohort’s favourite places to face the cold and rainy weather while waiting for summer to come! This is the first of three pieces which provides information over the Euroculture city Udine. This first section is all about food! The second section is all about how to spend your time in Udine, in the moments you are not filling your stomache, and the third piece is sharing practical information on Udine. But let’s start with the most important part, FOOD!

Places to enjoy Italian (but not only) treats throughout the day

Combining the slow lifestyle of Italy with the atmosphere of a small city, Udine is a great place to learn how to slow down and take the time to appreciate the little things. And one of the best things to do so is by sharing moments with the Euroculture students around drinks or food. In the subsequent section, you can find the spots that the first semester students from the 2022-2024 cohort miss while being in their second semester countries! Its divided into drinks (1.), food (2.) and sweets (3.), whereas the first section includes coffee-places (1.1) and places to go out for drinks and aperitivos (1.2), and the food section includes a general section on italian food (2.1), the best pizza places (2.2) and other types of restaurants in Udine (2.3).

1. Drinks

1.1 Coffee to start the day (and to keep you going in the afternoon)

Whether you are a coffee addict or not, gathering around a cup of coffee or hot chocolate is one of the essential things to do when spending a semester in Udine. Although the city is quite small, coffee spots can be found on almost every corner. Sometimes it looks like Udine was made for the coffees and not the other way around! However, despite the number of possibilities, pretty soon the Euroculture students of the 2022 cohort found their comfort places and stuck to it.  Here is the list of their favourite places:

  • The first thing you see when arriving in the city is Udine Castle overlooking the city. But more than a watch guard, the castle actually has some surprises in store for you! Indeed, after having climbed on top of its hill you will encounter a very cute coffee spot. Its panoramic view will make you fall in love with Udine a little more as you lay in your chair enjoying a delicious cappuccino (before 11 am only), or a Spritz (only after 11 am)
The castle coffee
  • Tomartcafé, is the coffee you will get to know living in Udine! Situated right in front of the university, students go there either on their own, or with their teachers for some extended coffee breaks. The owner is extremely nice, and might recognize you by the end of the semester!
View from outside of Palazzo Antonini, on the right there is the Tomartcafé
  • Right in the centre, Mamm Pane is a cute little coffee. There you can chat with your friends around coffee and some delicious pastries. 
    • Euroculture favourite: americano, delicious bread and croissants
  • Although it is outside the city centre, Adoro coffee is a nice alternative for some cheap breakfast. Located next to the huge Eurospar, it can be a good excuse to have a break after going grocery shopping.

1.2 Aperitivo and drinks

Aperitivo is an Italian tradition that you will immediately adopt (and probably won’t let go of when back to your country…) consisting of getting a “pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet your appetite.” Gathering from all over the world, at the same time as the locals, sharing thoughts on the semester, the city, and their homes over drinks, truly brought the Euroculture students of the 2022 cohort closer – and here are the places where they loved to do so:

  • The first place you will probably go to is Frasco Pozzar. Just around the corner from the university, its cosy lights will be too tempting when classes end at 6pm. So for its atmosphere – and for its glasses of wine at 1 euro – this place had to go on the top of the list. Whether you sit outside at their huge wooden table or stay cosy inside, you can have a very nice time with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The owners are kind and will always try their best to find you a table.
  • When going from the university to the city centre, you cannot miss Osteria Pierimortadele. On its terraces, you will find people chilling outside enjoying a drink and a smoke. Italians and internationals, young and older people sharing the space, creating this slow lifestyle so typical in Italy. The inside, and especially the room in the back, has the vibe of a tavern welcoming a huge group or a small friendly gathering.
  • Walking inside of Osteria Al Cappello you will understand why it is named that way even if you do not speak Italian. The main theme of this place seems to be ‘hats’ as the name in English could be translated as  “tavern at the hat.” Inside you will be able to enjoy excellent wines surrounded by hats and other decorations.
  • Having a back covered and opened garden, the Osteria de Teresina is a place to go no matter the weather! The place offers snack options, cheeses and potatoes in a cute environment.
  • Another tradition of Udine that you will probably grow fond of is the Mercoledi Gin. On Wednesday nights, streets are filled by Italian and international students listening to music and drinking together. One of the best places to discover this is the Cantinetta del Borgo where they will sometimes organise games, and be prepared for crowded places and busy bars!
  • Sometimes you might not want Spritz or wine but simply a good beer and some non-alcoholic cocktails… and in that case La Tana Live Pub is the perfect place to do so. A bit away from the city centre, this pub will give you vibes similar to a bar in the Czech Republic, with its music and its people. 

2. Food

2.1. Experiencing Italian food culture

Beyond coffee and aperitivo, Italy is renowned for its food, and Udine is a unique place to try it. Being off the tourist track, Udine provides delicious dishes at a very affordable price. Meat lovers will treat themselves to some tasty pieces in every restaurant. For the vegetarian you can find a lot of options, and it is sometimes possible to ask for a dish without the meat. However, it might be harder for vegan people to eat out in Udine, as they did not seem to have a lot of options in the first semester of the 2022-2023 academic year. 

  • Tucked away in a smaller street of the city centre, Hell’s bistrot is a cute and light place with amazing food. Their menu changes according to the season, and every meal is the perfect combination of comfy and gourmet food.
  • Although Osteria Alla Ghiacciaia might be one of the most touristic places of the city, its location is just too exceptional to not try it at least once. My advice would be to go there on a sunny day and to sit on their terrace just above the river. In this fantasy-like location you will forget all about IP papers or Master Thesis as your brain will be mesmerised by the view and your stomach by the food.
  • Located outside the inner right of the city centre, Ristorante Pizzeria Al Gelso is a nice alternative when looking for a place to eat out. In this restaurant you will find typical Italian food like pizzas, pastas as well as meat dishes. During the week you will easily find a table, however during the weekend it might be safer to book a table if it is for more than four people.
  • One of the delights of being part of the Euroculture Master is the people that you meet and that you get to know around good food. Fratelli Panza is extremely suitable for this, as it is easy to find a big table where everyone can fit! Although their dining room is huge, the fact that a lot of families gather there to eat makes the atmosphere cosy and welcoming.
Tiramisu at Fratelli Panza (alcohol-free)
  • Although it might not look like much, Mordimi Focaccia Gourmet is one of the best discoveries in Udine! This place is more suitable for take away food as they only have a small terrace to sit on, but their food is too delicious and the owner too nice to not be highlighted!

2.2 Best pizza places

Now let’s get to the essence of Italy: Pizza. In Udine, you can eat pizza everywhere and they are all delicious! The city is full of pizzerias, but here are the ones that kept the Euroculture students of the 2022 cohort coming back, and still think about when eating pizza in their second semester countries. 

  • Situated directly in one of the main piazzas, Assaje is the place you will enter by chance on your first day in Udine and come back to for a last dinner in Italy. The place has some family vibes that you cannot resist when you are away from home. Indeed, from their red and white chequered curtains to their wooden ceilings, everything is made to make you eat in a cosy cocoon as the waiters keep the atmosphere friendly with their smiles.
  • Another nice pizzeria is Peperino Udine. Located slightly outside the inner ring of the centre, this place will welcome you with even more choices: it offers a broader selection of pizzas as well as other dishes, like hamburgers.

2.3 Other types of food

  • Obviously pizzas and pasta could be a diet on their own, however, once in a while, a change in your alimentation is appreciated, and Samurai Ramen is there to help you out! Although it is a bit more expensive than the other restaurant options, their ramen is definitely worth it, and you can even find Japanese beer!
The vegetarian Ramen at Samurai Ramen
  • Well-located in the centre, Shi’s offers lots of good sushi. Although it might be more expensive than pizzas, they are still quite affordable. The restaurant is very nice with large windows and warm lights, making this place the perfect place for a Saturday night with friends.
  • Finally, one of the most affordable options in Udine might probably be Ginza sushi. Located outside the city centre, right between Adorno coffee and Eurospar, this place provides an unlimited buffet for 17 euro and their takeaway offer is 6 euros per dish.

3. Something sweet for the soul

Being from France, I might be a bit picky when it comes to pastries and sweets – however, Udine did manage to win me over with its delicious pasticceria. Walking in the city centre and passing by the windows, counters filled with colourful and nice-looking pastries, is a treat for the eyes. These are the best places according to the Euroculture students of the 2022 cohort: 

  • If you are in need of a birthday cake, Pasticceria Simeoni is the best option. Their waiters are extremely nice, and although they do not speak perfect English, they will try their best to understand and help you out when ordering the cake. It is a bit pricey, though, which makes it best for those special occasions.
  • If you are simply craving for a sweet on your way to university or home, Pasticceria Santarosa will provide you with so many possibilities that you will be thankful to have the whole semester to try them out!
  • Coming to Italy, you will discover the delight of taking ice creams whenever you feel like it (and the weather is agreeing with you) and to stroll around the city centre. Oggi Gelato Ice Cream is the best place to rediscover ice cream. It is not a restaurant but an open shop,  which makes it almost too easy to stop by after classes.

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