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Cividale is situated on the rocks of the Natisone shores, where the river appears from the region’s plain. Due to this strategic position people already settled down here in the Neolithic Age, but through Caesar’s foundation of the Roman city (Forum Julii) around 50 B.C. the city became an important military and later political and administrative centre.
Due to the settlement of Alboino and the Longobards in Italy (568 A.D.), Cividale became the seat of the first Longobardic dukedom and was competent for the whole territory of the present-day region: the monumental and blacksmith art blossomed, a precious testimony of a period of splendour under the Franks’ rule and after their fall, of the patriarchal domain.
The capital’s extend is mirrored in the city’s structure, in the churches, the aristocracy’s palaces, and the artisans’ shops. They are witnesses of that temporal and religious power, which was only neglected by Venice’s conquest of Friuli in 1420 and Cividale’s downfall against Udine. After Campoformido (1797) Cividale became Austrian and in 1866 it became part of the Italian Empire. In spite of its modest urban dimensions, Cividale stayed noble and dignified, which is emphasised through the rediscovery of the complex Longobardic history and culture, whose splendour was celebrated during the big exhibition in 1990, and through the new prospects of cultural exchange with Europe, of which the Mittelfest is an important testimony.