According to tradition Cividale was founded in 50 B.C by Julius Caesar and called Forum Julii (the market of Julius). Venetian and Celtic remains, however, bear witness to pre-existent settlements. In 568, with the conquest of the Longobards led by King Alboin, Cividale becomes the capital of the first Longobard Dukedom in Italy.
In the VIII century, during the Frankish domination, the ancient name of the city is changed from Forum Julii to Civitas Austriae and later from Civitas into the present Cividale. The city becomes the seat of the temporal power with the beginning of the patriarchal State in Friuli (1077). In 1420 the city is included in the Venetian Republic.
The artistic heritage of the city testifies its historical importance: the Celtic Hypogeum, a fascinating and mysterious place; the Oratory of Saint Maria in Valle (the famous little Longobard Temple), an extraordinary example of upper Middle Ages architecture and sculpture; the Cathedral (XIV-XV century), in the interior of which you may admire the silver altar-piece of Pellegrino II, masterpiece of Italian medieval goldsmith art, and two paintings by Palma the Younger; the Municipal Palace (XIV-XV century); the Venetian Superintendents’ Palace (XVI century), designed by Andrea Palladio.
You may also visit the National Archaeological Museum which houses archaeological Longobard remains and relevant medieval codes; the Christian Museum with the baptistery of Callisto (VIII century) and the Ratchis altar (VIII century). You should also not forget to visit the Devil’s Bridge and its wonderful view over the Natisone river. According to the legend, the bridge was built by the Devil, who had requested in exchange the soul of the first person crossing it.
The distance from Lignano is about 82 km., ca. 1 hour and 10 minutes with a car.