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  • Historical outline

    Archaeological finds dating back to Palaeolith and the Iron Age revealed us that the current town had actually been inhabited since prehistory, whereas the Celtic civilization had been for sure developing and prevailing on the former Paleo-Venetians since 4th century b.C.

    In 50 b.C. Julius Caesar established here the forum, from which Forum Iulii, the ancient town name (the root of the current placename Friuli): the town achieved the rank of municipium and became soon one of the most important centres of the region as for commercial and military force.

    In 568 a.C. the Longobards came and Cividale won a lead role becoming the capital city of the first Longobard dukedom in Italy, held by Gisulf I, nephew of King Alboin.
    Later on, during king Liutprand’s reign, came also Callisto, the Patriarch of Aquileia: the coexistence of both top political and religious figures in the same place at the same time - the duke with the Longobard aristocracy and the Patriarch with all the hierarchy - definitively turned Cividale into a powerful religious and political capital city, as well centre of art and culture.

    It stood as Patriarch’s see even after Charlemagne (Charles the Great) succeeded in the Longobards expulsion (774 a.C.). Under rule of the Franks, Cividale, as capital city of the Eastern March of Regnum Italiae, held its political and religious prestigious position: between the late 9th century and the early 10th century it was named Civitas Austriae (i.e. eastern city), from which the current name derives.

    In 1077 emperor Henry IV granted the Patriarchate of Aquileia the power of jurisdiction - including duke’s privileges - over the whole Friulan territory, thus ratifying the administrative and territorial self-government of the Friulan Patriarchal State, as well as the role of Cividale as capital city of the Friulan Country.

    In the early decades of the 16th century also this city, as all the main Friulan centres, had to surrender to the conquering armies of the Republic of Venice: in 1420 Cividale submitted and was annexed for good to Serenissima’s dominions.

    In 1797, by means of the Treaty of Campoformido between Napoleon and Austria, Cividale came under Hapsburg empire rule, and that position, with the exception of a short period being a part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, was ratified by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Between 1848 and 1866 it was characterized by a ively Risorgimento movement that brought, after the Third Independence War, to the annexation of Cividale to the Italian Kingdom, together with Veneto and Friuli regions.

    More recently, during the First World War the city hosted for a short time the headquarters of the Second Army Corps and it had heavy damages from air raids. After the heavy defeat in Caporetto, it was occupied by the Austrian army. Cividale stands among the Cities that are decorated for Military Valour in the Liberation War, and awarded with Silver Medal for Military Valour in virtue of its citizens’ sacrifice and resistance war actions by Partisans during the Second World War.

    Birthplace of important figures of world culture, such as the historian Paolo Diacono, the painter and scene-designer Francesco Chiarottini, the actress Adelaide Ristori and the puppet master Vittorio Podrecca, Cividale’s rich heritage is made of monuments and works of art testifying its historical evolution, as marked and enriched by foreign civilizations.