Cividale is located at the meeting point between the Friuli plain and the Natisone River Valley, which leads to an important pre-Alpine pass to the east.
Founded in 53 BC by Julius Caesar and called Forum Iulii, hence the name Friuli, the town has a number of major historic monuments. Because of its strategic position various civilisations met and clashed here over the centuries. With the descent into Italy of Alboin and the Lombards (568 AD) Cividale became the seat of the first Lombard duchy with power over a large area which included practically the whole of present-day Friuli. From its inclusion in the Frankish kingdom (776) and for the whole of the Middle Ages, Cividale enjoyed a prominent position in the Region, first by dint of the presence of the dukes and patriarchs of Aquileia and then for the patriarchsi resolute action which brought here emperors, princes, artists and poets. The town’s importance waned only in 1420, when Friuli was conquered by Venice. After Campoformido (1797) it went under the Austrian Empire and in 1866 it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.