When you ask someone about San Daniele, the majority would definitely relate the town with its ham. It is not a wrong judgment after all. However, another important fact about the town, which is widely ignored, is the presence of one of the oldest reading institutions of the Italy: The Guarneriana Library!
At the beginning the books in the library and the library itself were a donation from Guarnerio di Artegna. He was a collector of ancient works in the 15th century. In the 18th century the collection was enriched by the contributions of Archbishop Fontanini. Today the library has many invaluable collections.
At present, the antique department of the library has 12.000 old books: it is frequented and consulted by scholars and researchers from universities in this region, academies and Institutions not only in Italy, but also from other countries.
The library is also a symbolic building for the local community, of its oldest freedoms and democratic institutions. It is the first public reading institution in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and one of the first in Italy.
The church is said to be built at the beginning of 1300s. However, it was badly damaged in the earthquake in mid-1300s. Then, it was restructured and widened. The style resembles Venetian Gothic.
Outside of the church is not very attractive but you should definitely step in. Inside, you can admire the most beautiful and harmonious cycle of Renaissance frescoes of this region: Therefore, the Church is called as “Little Sistine of Friuli” - painted by Martino da Udine, known as “Pellegrino da San Daniele” (“The Pilgrim of San Daniele”).
Portonat is the name of the gate in the north of San Daniele. It was built to substitute the ancient fortified tower, which was damaged by an earthquake in 1500s. The construction of the building had started in 1579 by Andrea da Venzone and it was finished by Andrea Podaro after Venzone's unexpected death.
On the 28th of August every year the "palio" of San Daniele is celebrated nearby the Portonat.
Alle vecchie carceri is a nice restaurant in the centre of San Daniele.
The ambience is very refined. There are tables both inside and outside, in the small garden. You'd better reserve in advance if you want to choose your favourite location.
The menu of the restaurant is not that wide, but every dish is tasty and well prepared.
The restaurant offers typical dishes of the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia and, of course, ham of San Daniele which is freshly cut for you as you order it.
I really enjoyed my luch here, and prices are not too expensive. The restaurant was full of international tourists and they all seem to enjoy their lunch.
The menu is written in Italian, German and English. Multilingual staff.
Favorite Dish: * San Daniele ham: sweet and tasty, a must when you eat at San Daniele. It is offered as appetizer, but I think that one portion can be shared (see my main pic). It costs 9 € (Apr. 2007)
* Regional cuisine: cjasson, home made pasta, montasio cheese. A main course costs from 7 to 9 €
* White and red wine from Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Here are the festivals I know of San Daniele (There may be more festivals in the region but I wanted to share the ones I know):
Ladin Festival: It is the festival during which the Ladin communities from Friuli, the Dolomites and the Swiss canton of Grisons come together for a revival of their common heritage. Cultural events, gourmet specialities, crafts and folklore are performed in the historic centre of San Daniele.
Sagra della Madonna di Strada: It is the traditional religious feast dedicated to the Virgin Mary with procession and Palio dei Borghi (horse race). It takes place near Portonat and includes music and fireworks.
A trip to San Daniele is not complete unless you visit a typical "prosciuttificio" where you can see the artisinal production of world-famous San Daniele ham.
My first visit was a bit challenging for me as the smell was quite strong and it was my first interaction to something related with pigs/pork. Coming from a muslim country, I didn't have the chance to see the production of ham or taste it. On our way, I was sure I was going there just to take some photos but I ended up tasting prosciutto with melon. I know it is one of the favourite dish of some millions but not my kind of food. I guess it's because tasting "prosciutto crudo" as an introduction to pork was not the correct start.
In short, it is a "must" to visit a "prosciuttificio" in San Daniele del Friuli.