Italy has a great number of small provincial towns, often overlooked in favor of other major destination. Quite understandable though; the big five (Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice and Milan), are a must see in anybody’s travel list.
But for the habituee, or the discerning art lover, there are small “sleepy” provincial towns that are worth a visit. Not only they will be less crowded, the prices are probably more favorable, and the services more attentive.
The food will probably be more authentic and less predictable, yet appetizing.
Cividale del Friuli is one of them.
I wrote about Cividale in general terms in ANTIQUITY AND FOOD IN CIVIDALE, but I figured it was worth talk abou it again as during these two years of COVID restrictions Italy was busy restauring its many treasures. And Cividale was busy with restauring the Lombard Temple.
The Lombard Temple
From the Piazza del Duomo, a short walk through the beautiful streets of Cividale, there is the Lombard Temple, a monument of great prestige because of the exceptional nature of the works of art in it.
The name of “Lombard Temple” is improper, since “Lombard” refers to the time of its construction (around 760), not because it belongs to that particular artistic culture.
In the early eighteenth century the Tempietto ceased its function as a living chapel of the near by monastery and was therefore used as the chapter house of the convent itself.
Over the centuries, the Tempietto was “renovated” several times: the frescoes that decorate the walls are frescoes ranging from the 11th to the end of the 14th century approximately.
The building consists of a central body, and the presbytery with three apses, of which the largest central. The vault is cross in the hall, barrel vault in the apses. Monolithic lintels from the Roman period supported by paired bare columns with Corinthian capitals separate the aisles.
It is in the entrance wall that one can, partially, admire the original decoration of the Tempietto, the exceptional, famous stuccos, however such that it can still be sufficiently assessed.
The original frescoes, dating back to around 760, are reduced to a few episodes: the Christ Logos between the Archangels Michael and Gabriel and some martyrs (remains of a theory that ran at least in three walls) in the entrance wall, and a Saint Hadrian in the northern one: common and peculiar elements in all are the fixity of the positions, the expressionistic features of the faces, the use of green lands to create chiaroscuro effects.
INFORMATION AND TIMES:
MONASTERY OF SANTA MARIA IN VALLE and LONGOBARD TEMPLE Via Monastero Maggiore, 34 – 33043 Cividale del Friuli (UD) tel. ticket office +39 (0) 432 700867 tel. reservations +39 (0) 432 710460
It is also worth visiting the Duomo of Cividale, which also has some remarkable frescoes.
Cividale offers plenty scenic views to delight any photographer, and plenty more of caffees and restaurants where to stop for a break.
My choice was Trattoria Alla Frasca, just off the main street, in Via Stretta Bernardino De Rubeis 10/a. They specialize in dishes with fresh mushrooms, and they have a delightful Al Fresco sitting area.