Next week from the 29-30 September more than 20 mill. are expected to visit some of the gems of our common European heritage. The program of this year’s European Heritage Days is vast and most of the events are naturally of mostly local interest.
A few, however, deserve to be mentioned. One of them is the opening of a new exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum and the launch of a new book in Cividale di Friuli in the North East of Italy.
Cividale di Friuli is in itself just another small Italian town with the usual mixture of a renaissance palace and a church redecorated in Baroque. However, it does possess a few extraordinary gems, which last year catapulted the town to the World Heritage List together with a couple of other Northern Italian sites, Cividale del Froiuli, Brescia, Castel-Seprio Torba, Spoleto, Campello sul Clitunno, Benevento and Monte Sant’ Angelo. The common denominator of these sites are their Lombardic heritage; or as it is called in the tourist brochures “Italia Langobardorum”.
Apart from the architectural remains (see below), Cividale de Friuli is the natural centre of this itinerary as it is home to the National Archaeological Museum with a very large exhibition of treasures and archaeological finds from 568 -774 AD.
Recently it became possible to systematically excavate a part of a large Lombardic cemetery in the city of Cividale at San Mauro, which has resulted in some very interesting archaeological finds (some of which were only found late 2011/early 2012).
These finds are being presented in a new exhibition in the archaeological museum (as usual located in the renaissance palace, which by the way is by Palladio and in itself worth a visit). Here a sector of the necropolis is recreated in order to convey a sense of the rites of the funerals with a new fresque, which shows the funeral of a warrior on the hill of St. Mauro. Other exhibits reconstruct the clothings and use of jewelry made from silver, gold, and semi-precious stones.
At the same time several new books are launched, amongst these a new catalogue which presents the preliminary results of the excavation of the necropolis. As yet the catalogue is unfortunately not for sale on the internet.Parallel to this it is possible to go on a guided tour of the museum of Christian Art at the Cathedral and the nearby Tempietto, where focus will be on the vivid colours, which it is generally believed to have embellished the quite distinct Lombardic sculptures. Central is a discussion of the polychrome remnants of the altar of the Duke of Ratchis.
It is believed that artists fled from the Byzantine Empire during the period of Iconoclasm (680-850) and ended up in Western Europe, where they – amongst other things – introduced their artistic traditions and colour schemes to the Lombardic court. Remnants of these colour schemes may be seen in the nearby Tempietto Langobardo, also known as the church of Santa Maria in Valle. Here it is also possible to dive into new discoveries about the architecture and layout of this ancient capella palatina from around 750 AD.