Set along the river Natisone, Cividale del Friuli has kept, throughout the centuries, its noble and severe features of strategical town forged and enriched by the passage of foreign populations. The choice of building here a fortified village (“Castrum”), was due to strategical reasons: in fact it was at crossroads between the Alps and the plain regions. The Roman town “Forum Iulii” was founded around 50 b.C. to guarantee the defence of the roads leading to Aquileia.
Remains of the ancient curtain wall of Cividale can still be seen today: a building set in “Borgo S. Pietro” on the river Natisone dating to the Patriarchal age of which remains a round tower and pieces of a corner; some tracts of Venetian walls on the northern side of the town and the defensive walls on the eastern side. The town’s defenses dating to Roman times and late antiquity age are buried or had disappeared.
Cividale also features a number of monuments bearing witness to its three most important periods: the Roman times, the Langobard era and the Patriarchs’ age. In 568 a.C. it was conquered by King Alboino who founded here the first of the 35 Langobard kingdoms of Italy leaded by his Nephew Gisulfo.
Cividale history, its documents and its position and landscape and why not, even its unmatchable gastronomic specialties, make Cividale unique in the area. That’s why culture lovers find themselves at ease with the great wines here whilst following this itinerary crossing roads in the town center or along the Natisone valley.
Castled on the banks of the Natisone river, Cividale del Friuli has developed and maintained its noble austerity, worthy of any capital of great strategic importance, marked and enriched by the passing of foreigners such as the the Longobards and the Francs. One discovers the town, beginning in the heart of its historical center, piazza del Duomo or the Cathedral square. Here we can find the Nordis building and the stately Provveditori Veneti building, which currently houses the National Archeological Museum that offers a real opportunity for an in-depth understanding of the complex period in history during the numerous invasions by the population commonly known as the “barbarians”.
Moving on into Corso Mazzini, the town’s main street, one becomes ever more emerged in Cividale’s ancient spirit, until we come to piazza Paolo Diacono, animated daily by a picturesque vegetable market.
Leaving the square behind and losing oneself amongst the streets, whilst passing the mighty city walls which hold the majestic gates to the city, one then comes to the San Francesco church, which is in the square of the same name, whose gardens do not overshadow the beauty of its interior.
Retracing one’s steps, whilst leaving the Cathedral behind, the air we breathe has a hint of the ancient Longobards here more than ever. A little bit further away, between the enchantment of the green above the city walls we come to the famous little Longobard temple, the highest expression of western Medieval times.
In front of the 8th century building, is a wonderful panorama of the Ponte del Diavolo and the Natisone river, which flows between the deep and steep walls. Via Monastero Maggiore, with its characteristic uneven cobble stones, takes us straight to the Ipogeo Celtico, a curious and interesting complex of artificial caves, dug at various levels and accessible from steep but evocative steps.
Cividale: Art and culture
Among the most interesting places to visit there are: the the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta with its beautiful Gothic-Renaissance facade; the “Palazzo Comunale”; the beautiful square “Piazza Paolo Diacono” surrounded by ancient and interesting buildings; the church dedicated to S.Silvestro and S.Valentino; the church of S.Francesco; the famous Langobard temple “Tempietto Longobardo” built around the 8th century; the bridge “Ponte del Diavolo” from which it’s possible to enjoy a beautiful sight over the river Natisone, the old town and the National Archaeological Museum housed in the palace “Palazzo dei Provveditori Veneti”.
Where to stay in Cividale del Friuli
There are high quality hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.