A mix of people lived here, from the Celts to the Romans and the Lombards. Reasons enough to have earned a place on the Unesco World Heritage List.
WHAT SHOULD YOU CERTAINLY VISIT IN CIVIDALE?
Cividale is rich of history and is on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2011. The town is divided in two by the river Natisone that guarantees beautiful photos with its spectacular colors. Standing on "il ponte del diavolo" - the bridge of the devil, you have a magnificent view over both parts of the village.
Originally long before the year zero, the Celts lived here, a curious relic of this time is the cave "Ipogeo Celtico" from an alley you descend below the ground level to be finding yourself in this ancient sacred place. You are surrounded by masks and holes in the rock walls. Probably it served as a cemetery and in later years the Romans turned it into a prison.
THE EMPEROR JULIUS CAESAR
Nobody less than the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, turned this small Celtic village around 50 B.C. into a strategic settlement of his legions when the Romans were increasingly moving towards Northern and Eastern Europe to conquer new lands. He named the town after himself by calling it "Forum Julii". This means "square, market of Julius". Funny detail is that centuries later, none other than Charlemagne decided to use the word "Forum Julii" for the entire region ... yes indeed Friuli is a corruption of this name. Charlemagne gave the village the name "Civitas Austrea" or "city in the East" which eventually became Cividale.
THE FIRST LOMBARDS IN ITALY
Yet it is thanks to another people that Cividale became famous: the Lombards. A people who originally came from northern Europe and eventually ended up here after centuries of wanderings. Here they founded the first Lombard Duchy in Italy. Many treasures from that time can still be admired. The most famous one is the "Tempietto Longobardo". This small private chapel of the "Gastaldo" the deputy of the King himself, was built in the late 8th century and is now part of the monastery of Santa Maria in Valle. The magnificent plasterwork in Oriental style and the colorful frescoes make you go back in time for 1,200 years!
In the "Museo Cristiano," rich in religious objects and historical treasures located next to the Cathedral, you can view other big impressive objects from the Lombards period. For example, the "Altar of Ratchis" and the "Baptism font of Callisto." In the National Archaeological Museum "Museo Archeologico Nazionale" on the other hand you don't only see objects from Roman times as well as all kinds of small utensils and jewelry of the Lombards that were found in their graves. You can even admire the sarcophagus of one of the Dukes which was excavated in the late 19th century in the core of the village precisely under the main square Piazza Paolo Diacono. This square owes its name to a deacon who wrote the whole history of the Lombards in the late 8th century. With all these beautiful treasures from the Lombards period, that we still can admire upon today, it is not difficult to imagine why Cividale in 2011 earned a place on the famous Unesco World Heritage List.
Come and have a look yourself, it's really worth a visit. Do not hesitate to book me if you want to get a personal tour, I can tell you much more about it.
The highlights of Cividale
Piazza Paolo Diacono
The Devil's bridge
The oldest medieval house
Ipogeo celtico - Celtic cave
The puppet museum