Formerly the first port stop for ships heading to Aquileia in the Roman era, Grado is now a quaint Italian beach town renowned for its spa treatments and cluster of beautiful lagoons. Though the city promotes itself as a haven for all things wellness-related, tourists also visit the area for its proximity to the coast, abundance of five-star beachfront resorts and incredible seafood. The pedestrianized streets make the city easy to navigate on foot whilst the many rental boats make the lagoons consistently accessible. Buffered by a series of islands and scattered with impressive architecture, Grado strikes an ideal balance between luxury and culture.
Location: A sunny island surrounded by lagoons
Located in Northeastern Italy in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and just 14 kilometres south of Aquileia, Grado spreads across a narrow island that is backed by lagoons and connected to the mainland by a causeway. Commonly referred to as L’Isola del Sole (The Sunny Island), the city faces the Adriatic Sea and is the rough middle point between Venice to the west and Trieste to the east.
Business: A city built on luxurious tourist retreats
Once a prominent fishing town, Grado now attracts thousands of visitors a year thanks to its glowing reputation as a luxurious spa city. Celebrated for its large water park complete with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, health and wellness centre, plus a long list of unique spa treatments, Grado embraces its newfound identity as an international tourist destination.
Culture: Romanesque architecture and medieval history
Acquired by Austria is 1815 and ceded to the Italians in 1918 after World War I, Grado’s charm lies in its combination of beach-town simplicity and medieval history. The city’s winding medieval centre showcases the Romanesque Basilica di Sant’Eufemia and the ancient remains of a church mosaic, in addition to the many delicious restaurants and wine bars that dot the streets. During the first week of July, locals light candles and sail to the 8th-century sanctuary on Barbana Island to honour the Madonna of Barbana, who reportedly saved the town from the plague in the early 13th century.
Activities: Spa treatments and beachside strolling
Lined with thermal baths, early 20th century houses and colourful beach umbrellas, Grado’s shore is the perfect place for a calm afternoon stroll. Visitors can rent a boat to cruise around the nearby lagoons, or sign up for a tour to visit the nearby islands. During the spring and summer months, when Grado is buzzing as a result of the clear, warm weather, the beaches are the place to be. Dip in the Adriatic and dig your toes in the grey-coloured, curative sands. If you need some respite from the sun, stop at a pizzeria in town or indulge in a spa day.