As with many conferences, we had one half-day off. This time, it was the thursday morning. As I had already seen most of what I wanted to see in Udine, I decided to drive out to the small village/town of Cividale del Friuli roughly 25km from Udine. This small village has a long history which it shows off by some celtic, roman and christian buildings or left-overs of such. Not only has the village a rich history, it also lies beautifully on both sides of a turquoise river.
After negotiating my way to a bus stop in Udine and boarding not just the right bus to the train station, but subsequenty also the right train to Cividale del Friuli, I actually arrived there as planned.
An obvious sight is the cityline featuring many white-steepled churches and old houses, which you can see on numerous occasions from the opposite side of the river. Besides the churches, there’s a Celtic Hypogeum. A number of caves, which you can visit if you manage to ask the bar-owner next doors for the keys. The Hypogeum is, so the guide told me, likely a Celtic series of caves that served as a burial place before sheepishly admitting that it might not be Celtic at all, but rather be a Roman jail. I liked the caves though and found the faces carved into the walls quite striking.
The best known feature of Cividale however, is its bridge. It is called Ponte del Diavolo and the story goes that back in the 15th century, they were trying to build a bridge over the river but that it kept collapsing. So the people of Cividale made a pact with the devil: The devil would ensure the bridge would stay up and in return the devil would be getting the soul of the first to cross the bridge. The bridge was built and sure enough, this time it stayed up. When the time came for the first crossing of the bridge, the citizens tricked the devil by having a dog cross the bridge first, thereby making sure he didn’t get a soul.
Funnily enough, due to a translation error the German version in the city guide implies that this deal was made, not to keep the bridge from caving in, but to cut the costs of building the bridge, which would shine quite a different light onto the citizens of Cividale.
There’s a lovely small temple in Cividale, that I liked a lot that has been built over many centuries. It is only a few square-meteres tall and has a high amount of frescos and stucco. As well as a number of lovely statues whose meaning are still under debate. (Picture taken from Wikipedia ). Unfortunately it was not permitted to take pictures, so I have stolen a picture from elsewhere instead.