Just located 17 km from Udine, next to the railway and bus lines, CIVIDALE is a real gem, a city highly valued by Friulani, but unknown to strangers. He founded them in 50 r. p.n.e. Julius Caesar in place, where the Natisone valley opens onto the plain, a w VI w. They were chosen as the capital of the first Lombard Duchy. W VIII w. the Patriarch of Aquileia moved here, which marked the beginning of the Cividale heyday.
The old town is on the same side of the river as the train and bus stations, nevertheless, the walk across the Devil's Bridge is obligatory. It is a great pleasure just to stroll around the oval city, przeciętym via Carlo Alberto i Corso Mazzini; the pace of life is provincial unhurried, and the buildings are interesting. Cividale is from 200 years the main market town of the Natisone valley and today you can hear Italian in the streets, Friulano and Slovenian. There are also some noteworthy tourist attractions.
Lombard Temple (pn. 9.00-12.00, wt.-pt. 9.00-12.00 i 15.00-18.00, sb. i nd. 9.00-13.00), on the river Natisone near Piazza San Biagio, is an exceptionally beautiful example of Lombard art. The temple was built in the 8th century., mostly from older fragments, a w 1222 r. was turned to ruins by an earthquake and today you can see a three-dimensional mosaic of styles, which, however, harmonize with each other. The stucco arch around the four saints inside and the luminous and smiling saints themselves are among the finest preserved works of art from the 8th century; frescoes and stalls date from the 14th century.
Other interesting Lombard sights can be found in the Museo Cristiano, located in the surroundings of the 15th-century Duomo (pn.-pt. 9.30-12.00 i 15.00-18.30, sb. i nd. 11.30-12.00 i 16.30-18.30). The altar of Ratchis was carved for the named prince of Cividale and the king of Lombardy, seated on the throne in Pavia: w 759 r. Ratchis died in the Monastery of Monte Cassino as a Benedictine monk; the reliefs Christ triumphant and the Adoration of the Magi are delicate and touching. Another interesting monument is the Callista Baptistery, named after Callista de Treviso, patriarchy, who moved from Aquileia to Cividale. He lived here in the years 730-756 and initiated the construction of the patriarchal palace, the cathedral and this octagonal baptistery, which used to stand next to the cathedral. It is built of older Lombard fragments, and the columns and capitals date from the 5th century.
In the duomo itself there is a 12th-century masterpiece of goldsmithing: pala (altar sculpture) named after Pellegrin II, patriarchy, who ordered the work and offered it to the city; it represents the Virgin Mary seated between the archangels Michael and Gabriel, on which sides it is located 25 saints, and there are saints around, prophets and the patron himself.
Also in Piazza del Duomo is the Museo Archeologico (pn.-pt. 9.00-13.30, sb. i nd. 9.00-12.30), containing a mix of local finds and treasures, including fascinating Lombard jewelery and inlaid psalters.
A stone's throw from the 15th-century Pontedel Diavolo, on via Monastero Maggiore there is a cellar-like cavern called Ipogeo Celtico (pn. 8.00-13.00, wt.-pt. 8.00-13.00 i 15.30-17.40; key at the tourist office in Largo Boiani or in Bar al Ponte). This underground chamber was probably used as a tomb for Celtic leaders between the 5th and 2nd centuries. p.n.e., but it remains a moot point, whether the cavern is artificial, or merely human adapted. Anyway, it's a mysterious place with spooky faces carved on the walls.
The AAST office is on the first floor at Largo Boiani 4. The cheapest decent hotels in Cividale are Al Vescovo, via Roma 67 (• 0432/726015), in Behedere, via San Floor (• 0432/727057). More comfortable (and more expensive) it is offering great views of Castello, via del Castello 18 (• 0432/733242 or 734015) - located a few kilometers north of the city, on the hill above the road to TARCENTO and FAEDIS. The restaurant here is nice and on sunny days the Castello terrace is the best place for a leisurely lunch, and if you don't feel up to it, go on foot, well worth taking a taxi from the center of masta.
The chicest cafe in town is San Marco, opposite the AAST in the loggia of the town hall, a good place to observe passersby. Recommended restaurants are Zorutti, Village of Ponte 7, Alla Frasca, via De Rubeis 10, At the Fortino, via C. Alberto 46, i Da Nardini, Piazetta de Portis 6.