Without Aquileia there would be no Venice.
The fall of the Roman Empire and the subsequent arrival of the Huns forced the citizens of Rome's second most important city to seek refuge in the lagoons.
They took their Republican spirit with them and having founded Grado and settled on Torcello, they then set up home on the island of Rialto.
But it is still worth a trip to Aquileia today as were lucky enough to do so having been invited by the Consorzio Turistico Gorizia el'Isontino.
A small town of 3,000 inhabitants in the Province of Udine, the Roman ruins of the old capital of the 'X Regio Venetia et Histria', basically today's Veneto, are now UNESCO listed.
Visitors can clearly see the bulwark against barbarian invasion, the point of departure for military expeditions and the great trading centre. It's a pity the coastal road passes straight through the forum, but the atmosphere is not lost.
The Patriarchal Basilica, slightly outside the centre of Aquileia, is of special artistic and cultural importance. There are magnificent mosaic floors inside and outside Basilica leading to the 'Crypt of the Frescos', the latter rare Byzantine examples.
Saint Mark himself may have brought Christianity here having been sent here by Saint Peter. He apparently converted a certain Ermacora who became the first priest of Aquileia who was subsequently martyred. He was not the last.
The original church dates from the beginning of the 4th century and and this fact is recorded in an iscription on the mosaic floor.
Three museums complete a historical journey: the Archaeological Museum for all things Roman; the Paleochristian Museum preserves the remains of a large ecclesiastical building; the Civic Museum of the Patriarchate with many precious religious relics.