Some 11km south of Aquileia, isolated among lagoons, is the ancient island-town of GRADO, through which Aquileia once traded with Syria, Cyprus, Arabia and Asia Minor. Grado enjoyed its heyday under the Austrians who developed it as a health resort due to the presence of curative sand and waters – and there’s still a spa here today (wgradoit.it). Grado’s historic centre has three early Christian buildings, grouped close together in the heart of a miniature network of old streets. It’s also one of the best places in the northern Adriatic for relaxing on the beach; the water is safe, warm as a bath and shallow – indeed, the town’s name comes from the gentle angle of its shore. The free beaches are at the eastern and western ends. Alternatively, you can take a boat trip round Grado’s lagoon to explore some of its many islands.

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