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This lesser-visited Italian region is offering free transport and discounts to woo visitors

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A region in Italy is encouraging travelers to visit with incentives like free transportation and free and discounted entry to museums and attractions.

Boasting canals and architecture similar to Venice and a food scene regarded as one of the best in Italy, Friuli Venezia Giulia — the birthplace of grappa and tiramisu — is one of Italy’s least-touristy regions, making it a great place to explore one of the most-visited countries in the world without crowds of fellow sightseers.

Once the home of writers James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, who both lived in the capital Trieste, the region has all of Italy’s greatest hits: Renaissance palaces, Roman ruins, Alpine landscapes, great food, and incredible beaches.

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Now to promote sustainable tourism to the region, the local tourist board is paying people to visit. Launched last week, the new tourism scheme will run until May 31 and will see the tourist board reimburse the train fare of anyone who arrives in the cities of Trieste and Udine or the coastal resorts of Grado (otherwise known as ‘Little Venice’ due to its canals) and Lignano Sabbiadoro (home to some of the best beaches in Italy) by domestic rail.

In addition, travelers will receive free public transport in and around their chosen destination and free and discounted admission to museums, attractions, and guided tours.

Boats along the Canal Grande, Trieste
Trieste boasts grand architecture and a fantastic reserve of museums and historical sites © Getty Images

How does the promotion work?

The promotion launched on October 7 and will run until May 23. Any traveler can avail of it provided they travel domestically to one of the following train stations: Latisana-Lignano-Bibione, Cervignano-Aquileia-Grado, Trieste Airport, Trieste Centrale, or Udine. Travelers can use the state-run Trenitalia trains, Intercity lines, or high-speed Frecce lines.

Anyone who avails of the package must stay in Friuli Venezia Giulia for at least two nights. The list of hotels and guest houses participating in the promotion can be found on the PromoTurismoFVG website or the Travel One website. If you want to avail of the offer, you’ll need to book your accommodation and train ticket on the tourism website. The price of the return train ticket will be deducted from the total.

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So if you’re visiting Italy before the end of May, maybe you’ve planned to see the big cities like Florence, Rome, or Milan, and you’d like to add another stop on your itinerary, you can include a little trip to Friuli Venezia Giulia paying for just the price of your accommodation. 

Trieste rooftops
Friuli Venezia Giulia is one of Italy’s most diverse culinary regions © Getty Images

What else is included?

You’ll also be given the FVGCard tourism free of charge, which will allow you to take advantage of free public transport in the destination you’re visiting, as well as free admission to the leading museums of Friuli Venezia Giulia, and, according to the tourism board, free or discounted admission to exhibitions like the major Banksy show running at the Salone deli Incanti in Trieste from November 25 until April 10, 2023.

The FGVCard will also give you special discounts on other tourist services like amusement parks, beaches, swimming pools, guided tours, and the region’s incredible reserve of historical sites like the Duomo in Trieste, the city’s 1st-century Roman theatre, and theaters like the grand Teatro Verdi opera house. According to the Travel One website, participants will also receive discounts on local cruises.

Duino aerial beach scene
The beaches of Lignano Sabbiadoro are some of the prettiest in Italy © Getty Images

What’s the fine print?

The promotion will run until May 23, but not all dates are available. Public holidays and the Christmas and Easter periods won’t be included. To avail of the offer, you must book at least two nights’ accommodation in your chosen destination. The cost of your accommodation is not covered by the promotion. First-class train tickets are also not included.

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For more information, check out the PromoTurismoFVG website