Cividale del Friuli
Cividale del Friuli is a small town with rich history going back to the iron age. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2011, Cividale boasts attractions such as Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Christian Museum, the Town Hall with the statue of Julius Caesar and a small church of Oratorio di Santa Maria in Valle. The stony Devil’s Bridge with the emerald Natisone/Nadiža River underneath is a memorable sight.
The town is situated in Friuli Venezia Giulia region of northern Italy. It has a population of 11,355 people, 30% of which are Slovenian, and is also the cultural centre of Venetian Slovenians. The town’s rich history goes back to the Iron Age (4th century BC). Originally a Celtic settlement it later became a Roman castrum, i.e. a fortified military camp that Julius Caesar soon transformed into a forum (public square). As early as in the 7th century BC it became a Roman town, and in the 5th century BC, after the destruction of Aquileia, it became the capital of Friuli and the seat of the Tenth Region.
Through history, Cividale del Friuli was governed by different rulers and empires. After the fall of the Roman Empire it became a part of the Byzantine Empire and later the capital of the Duchy of Friuli, the first permanent Lombard settlement. This was followed by a period of Avar and Slavic invasions. Afterwards, the town was under the Frankish rule until 1077. A new, patriarchal state was formed, which was a free vassal of the Holy Roman Empire and lasted until 1419. Later Cividale formed an alliance with Venetians, which allowed it to keep its own parliament ruling. In years that followed Cividale del Friuli lost its economic power; the town fell prey to sieges and started its decline. With the end of the Venetian Republic in 1797 Cividale del Friuli was annexed to Austria, until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. The interwar period in Cividale was turbulent. Today, the town is an important economic, administrative and religious centre of the Friuli region. Its development was largely shaped by trade between the hills and the lowland.
Venture to the old town core across the stony Devil’s Bridge spanning the emerald green Natisone River. Its arch rests on a natural boulder that forms the Celtic Hypogeum, known as the Roman jail or Lombard prison.
The main square Piazza del Duomo boasts the Praetorian Palace or Palazzo dei Provveditori Veneti, which was built between 1565 and 1586 and has been home to the National Archaeological Museum of Cividale del Friuli since 1990. The museum highlights include Reichenau manuscripts, which are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.