CIVIDALE DEL FRIULI
The Duchy of Friuli
The Territory of the Duchy of Friuli (the actual Friuli Venezia Giulia region) is rich in evidence of Longobard presence that integrate with other regional aspects and potential: of naturalistic, agricultural and food, production/ craft and, more in general, socio-economic nature. This contributes to the creation of sustainable development linked to the use and protection of the heritage in the context of the Network Italia Longobardorum.
The Longobard Duchy of Friuli included the four Roman municipia (Aquileia, Concordia, Iulium Carnicum
and Forum Iulii) and covered almost the whole territory South of the Carnic Alps and West of the Julian Alps.
It stretched towards West up to the Livenza river and towards North, in the province of Belluno, up to the Piave river where it bordered with the Longobard Duchy of Ceneda; in the South, instead, the ducal lands almost reached the Adriatic coast, up to Aquileia. The coastal belt between the lagoon and the sea (Grado and the islands) were under Byzantine rule.
Duino, an important castle facing the sea along the way to Triest and the Byzantine Istria, was under Longobard rule at least until the first decades of the 8th century.
The evidence of the settlement and the cornerstones of the territory organisation during the Longobard period (rural areas, fortresses, places of worship, monasteries, burials and necropolis) are a consistent and unique group that marks the enhancement of the power of the new Longobard ruling class which took
place in the 7th and 8th century.
In his Historia Langobardorum (IV, 37) Paulus Diaconus mentions a system of castles in Friuli where, at the beginning of the 7th century, the Longobards took refuge from an attack by the Avars.
Among these fortalices he explicitly mentions the name of what are probably the seven most important castra: Cormons, Nimis, Osoppo, Artegna, Ragogna, Gemona and the impregnable Ibligo (identified by many with the site of Invillino). Indeed, these are the sites where the most significant Longobard evidence has been discovered.
In the Longobard Friuli, the creation of Monasteries in rural areas goes hand in hand with that, maybe more important, in urban areas (in Cividale and Aquileia). In particular, those of Salt, in Povoletto, where the noble Piltrude was abbess, and of Sesto al Reghena, founded by her three children (Erfo, Anto and Marco) integrate in a series of noble foundations dating back to the second half of the 8th century and were able to become one of the main centres of attraction and economic organization in the territory.
While in the 9th century the Monastery of Salt soon became part of Cividale’s Cenoby of Santa Maria and disappeared, the Abbey of Sesto played its role also afterwards, becoming one of the most prestigious institutions and economic powers of Friuli. Today the complex of the Abbey is protected and is the result of a monumental evolution in the Romanesque period and of following changes.
The numerous burials discovered in the territory have not only revealed important aspects of Longobard customs and set of beliefs but are a clear example of the influences of Germanic elements in the region.
The natural and environmental context of the area of Cividale the historical mainstay of the Alpine-Adriatic area (Alpe Adria) is composed by the Prealps and Alps of the upper Isonzo river basin.
It is an area of extraordinary botanic importance and a training ground for Italian, Slovenian and Austrian universities as here, especially in the Natisone, Torre, Judrio valleys, an incredibly high number of botanic species is concentrated, more than all species in Germany, or in England and Ireland combined.
The exceptionality of these places lies in the fact that they underwent few changes over time, preserving most of, and integrating, natural resources after people quickly left the mountains and their cultivations during the 20th century.
Valleys and mountains have some exceptional highlights:
- hydrographical (uncontaminated waters);
- climatologic (meeting point of the Mediterranean and continental climates);
- archaeological and anthropological (presence of numerous Bronze and Iron Age settlements in the necropolis of San Lucia di Tolmino upper Isonzo river valley, Slovenia with more than 9,000 tombs discovered at the end of the 19th century and some other Longobard tombs found near Kanal ob Soči, again in Slovenia);