TRIESTE PROVINCE

GORIZIA PROVINCE

UDINE PROVINCE

UDINE

CARNIA

TARVISIO

VENZONE

GEMONA

BORDANO

SAN DANIELE

CIVIDALE

VILLA MANIN

AQUILEIA

MARANO LAGUNARE

PORDENONE PROVINCE

 

photo of book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Udine Province

Cividale

Lined with narrow cobblestone streets and perched above the emerald green Natisone River, Cividale del Friuli has been a site of historical importance throughout many civilizations. In fact, it was the town’s original Roman name, Forum Iulii, that evolved linguistically into the name of the region, Friuli.

Julius Caesar founded Forum Iulii in 50 BC, and it remained one of the region’s principal towns for several centuries of Roman rule. During the 6th century AD, King Alboino led his band of fierce Lombard warriors across central Europe and into northern Italy, effortlessly occupying Forum Iulii in 568. The king then gave the town to his nephew Gisulfo, establishing the first of three Lombard duchies in Italy. In 776, Forum Iulii was sacked by King Charlemagne’s Franks, who renamed the town Civitas Austriae. Over time, the two appellations were combined into the town’s present name, Cividale del Friuli.

Of all the cultures that have left their mark here, Cividale is most often associated with the Lombards, as the town is one of the few places in Italy where one can still view tangible evidence of this early medieval civilization. Situated on a cliff overlooking the river, the Tempietto Longobardo is Cividale’s most significant Lombard monument. Inside this tiny church are faded frescoes, intricately carved wooden choir stalls, and six female saints in high relief poised above a grapevine-motif arch. Experts consider these statues to be among the finest surviving works from this period.

Many more Lombard relics are housed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, including a coin collection, eating utensils, swords and other weaponry, ivory ornaments, gold brooches, and jeweled necklaces. The sarcophagus of Duke Gisulfo is also displayed, along with countless artifacts from Roman, paleo-Byzantine, medieval, and Romanesque periods. The Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta houses another museum, the Museo Cristiano. Its most notable 8th-century treasures include the altar of the Lombard duke Ratchis and the octagonal baptistery built for Patriarch Callisto.

The town's Ponte del Diavolo, or “Devil’s Bridge,” was named after a popular legend in which the townspeople of Cividale made a pact with the Devil. The Devil agreed to build the bridge overnight in exchange for the first soul to cross it. The next day, however, the townspeople outwitted the Devil by sending across a cat instead of a human.