Walking through Cividale, in addition to the fresh breeze coming down from the Natisone Valleys, you can perceive the echo of History: the Longobards left the clearest imprint on the city, but also all the peoples who crossed this territory over time, left traces of their passage.
Outside the sixteenth-century Palazzo Comunale, stands the statue of Julius Caesar, the leader who, by establishing a forum in Cividale in 50 BC, helped to give this town not only the opportunity for economic growth but also its original place name (Forum Iulii), subsequently extended to the entire Region.
The rarefied atmosphere of the Celtic Hypogeum, on the other hand, with its enigmatic masks and its small labyrinth of underground rooms dug out of the damp rock, exerts a strong fascination on visitors and even on the people of Cividale, fuelling the many local stories about its origins and function.
The authority of the Republic of Venice over the territory is also evident from an artistic point of view in the slender line of the city Cathedral (15th century), in the fresco decoration of the external façades of the private buildings in the centre and in the architecture of the Palazzo dei Provveditori Veneti, probably designed by Andrea Palladio.
What is most striking, however, is the impression that Cividale has been able to assimilate these external influences, absorb them, contaminate and reprocess them, redefining its own precise identity and participating, through this constant process, over time, in the renewal and growth of the cultural panorama that surrounded the town.
Even today you can still catch this subtle mechanism in action: one example is the creation of the Podrecca Signorelli International Centre dedicated to figurative theatre, which exhibits part of Maria Signorelli’s collection of puppets and marionettes, including the “Teatro dei Piccoli” by Vittorio Podrecca from Cividale, declared “of exceptional cultural interest” by the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities and Tourism; also significant is the Museum of the Great War in Cividale, which opened its doors in 2017, housed in the old train station, which offers a reconstruction of the harsh context of the First World War.
Among the iconic monuments of Cividale, the Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) has a prominent position, representing a true symbol of rebirth and peace in the broadest sense: blown up by the Italians during the retreat from Caporetto in 1917, rebuilt in 1918 by the Austrians as a faithful copy of the original fifteenth century monument, today it is an essential stop from which to admire the breath-taking views of the river Natisone and the balconies and terraces of the houses that overlook it.