The Castle is in the heart of Cividale del Friuli, an extraordinary setting steeped in history and art. Cividale del Friuli is a medieval gem, and an important location for international-scale events. Being the capital city of the PDO wines “Colli Orientali del Friuli”, it is also an ideal destination for lovers of food specialties and fine wines.
How to reach Cividale del Friuli
- Autovie Venete S.p.A.
- Motorway A23 – Udine
- Main road 54 (Udine – Cividale)
- From Udine Km 23
- From Gorizia Km 30
- From Trieste Km 65
- From Venezia Km 110
- From airport Ronchi dei Legionari to Udine:APT GORIZIA
- From Udine:S.A.F.
- Railway Udine – Cividale
- State Railway
- Airport Ronchi dei Legionari (Trieste)
- Airport Venezia Marco Polo
Located on the north side of the town and recently restored to its former beauty, Canussio Castle is a key element to study the defensive walls of Forum Iulii, as Cividale was originally named. Founded in the middle of the 1st century BC by Julius Cesar, this area was chosen for its interesting position on an important crossroad. The castle is considered the largest architectural complex of Late-Antiquity, and the Canussio family owned it from the 12th to the 19th century, when the property was sold. One hundred years later the family bought the castle back and encouraged archaeological researches. Several excavations were led by the Superintendence of Friuli Venezia Giulia’s Archaeological Heritage between 1991 and 2000, and layers of perfectly preserved Roman defensive walls (about 60-metre long) were uncovered. Now they can be admired under glass floors inside the Castle and in the garden.
The innermost layer of the walls is characterized by a quadrangular tower and it is the most ancient: according to recent studies it dates back to the Late Roman Republic (1st century BC). The walls were then strengthened with other two polygonal towers: the western one is visible in the garden while the eastern one is inside the building and has been used till recently as a well/cistern. These additional towers were built in the late 5th century or during the Gothic domination when Cividale gained a new strategic role and – as told by Paolo Diacono – became “caput Venetiae”: the capital city of the 10th Roman region “Venetia et Histria”. The numerous Roman and Renaissance findings from the digs (such as ceramic, glass and metal objects) are held at the National Archaeological Museum of Cividale where a significant amount (about 500 items) is on display.
Nowadays the Castle hosts the prestigious Niccolò Canussio Foundation, an international institute for Research on Antiquity named after Niccolò Canussio: he was a humanist scholar and historian, a native of Cividale and a major character in the 15th-century Friuli. He wrote “De Restitutione Patriae” where he defended the millenarian history of Cividale, one the first towns in Italy to establish a university.