Nation profile

Friuli
Friûl

General information
Population
1,076,000 (2015)
Area
8.240 km²
Institutions
Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region and some municipalities in Veneto
Major cities
Udine, Gorizia, Pordenone
State administration
Italian Republic
Territorial languages
Friulian, Slovene, German, Venetian
Official languages
Italian
Major religion
Christianity (Catholicism)
National day
3 April (Friuli Homeland Day)

Presentation
 
Friul is one of two historical territories that make up the Italian autonomous region with special status of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which was established in 1963. The regional capital, Trieste, is located outside historic Friuli, which has the city of Udine (Udin, in Friulian) as its geographical and political centre. This fact results in a feeling of mistrust among Friulanists as regards the region's authorities, which are perceived as prioritizing the city of Trieste at the expense of Friulan territories, which gives rise to Friulian demands for an administrative division of its own. The authorities of the province of Udine have traditionally played a leading political role in Friuli. But the province is being dismantled since April 2018, following a controversial amendment of the region's Statute.

Historic antecedents

When seeking to argue the continued existence of a Friulian nation, Friulanists usually underline the fact that a Friulian language and literary tradition has existed over time, as well as the memories of the Patriarchal State of Aquileia (11th-15th centuries, also called the “Friuli Fatherland”) as a political entity that predates today’s Friuli. The State of Aquileia was part of the Holy Roman Empire, having its own Parliament —with essentially military functions. It disappeared after being absorbed by the Republic of Venice. After the Napoleonic period, those territories were integrated into the Austrian Empire.

In 1866, when Lombardy and Veneto went on to join rising Italy, Friuli was divided between the new kingdom (western and central zone, centred around Pordenone and Udine) and Austria (eastern zone, centred around Gorizia).

At the end of the First World War, when Austrian emperor Charles I had accepted that his empire be turned into a confederation of nations, the two Friulian Catholic MPs in the Austrian Parliament (Giuseppe Bugatto and Luigi Faidutti) called for the recognition of the right “to self-determination of the Friulian people” and for the “complete autonomy of Austrian Friuli,” including the option of not joining the rest of Friuli —at that time, under a non-autonomous regime in Italy. Their demands did not succeed, and Eastern Friuli (Austrian Friuli) was annexed by Italy with no self-government granted.

Organizations

Present-day Friulian nationalism emerged in the 1960s. One of its key moments was the founding of the Friuli Movement in 1966, the first Friulianist political movement after World War II. Party representatives were continuously elected to the Parliament of Friuli-Venezia Giulia from 1968 to 1988. The decline of the Friuli Movement coincided in time with the emergence of the Friuli League —then the Friulian section of Padania’s Northern League. Former leaders and members of the Friuli Movement, such as Sergio Ceccotti —who would later become mayor of Udine— or Pietro Fontanini —who would later be elected president of the province of Udine—, took part in the foundation of Friuli League.

Since then, the Friuli League-Northern League —since 2001 merged with the Trieste League-Northern League— has been the largest party within Friulianism. Since 2018, the leader of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia League, Massimo Fedriga, is the president of the region. The transformation of the Northern League into an all-Italian party puts into question to what extent is its Friuli-Venezia Giulia section preserving its Friulianist stances.

Other smaller parties, with some institutional presence whether at the provincial or municipal levels, include the Friulian Autonomist Movement —which calls for an autonomous Friulian region without Trieste in the framework of a federal Italy— and pro-independence Friulian Front.

Within the pro-autonomy camp, the existence of the Pact for the Autonomy must be mentioned. The party, led by Sergio Cecotti, defines itself as promoting enlarged autonomy for the whole of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Since 2018 it has two seats in the regional Parliament.

In addition, the country’s Slovenian minority has its own political party, Slovenska Skupnost, mainly aimed at protecting the linguistic and cultural rights of Slovenians of Friuli and Trieste.

(Last updated May 2018)