Piazza Paolo Diacono is the living room and the heart of Cividale, where you can sit down and drink an aperitivo, embraced by historic buildings. It is also where the first of the Longobard discoveries took place. In fact, in 1874 the sarcophagus and the treasure of Duke Gisulfo was found in the center of the square, at a depth of about 2 meters. Both the sarcophagus and the treasure are now exhibited at the Archaeological National Museum of Cividale. The discovery took place while looking for the old pipes of the aqueduct. Although the human remains inside the sarcophagus went to dust when the sarcophagus was opened, the rich funeral equipment with which he was buried were found intact. These consists of gold threads that decorated the ancient robe, the ring seal made with a coin of Tiberius, a cross in golden foil, decorated with eight identical heads and the glass bottle that, until a few decades ago, contained the original votive water. A comemorative stone was laid on the square as evidence of the precise point of the finding of the sarcophagus.
It is known by many names: Previously it was known as Piazza del Mercato or Market Square, because it was in a favorable position for trade and commerce, so much that in the Middle Ages it became known as the "Forum of Cividale" where the regents and the people gathered to make decisions both on common life issues and on critical situations such as wars. Piazza delle Donne or Women’s square, women who with their stalls of herbs and vegetables enlivened the picturesque space every day.
The square is a succession of buildings of various heights, arches, columns and cascades of windows, all of which seem to observe the fountain in the center of the square. The fountain stands where once there was a hanging chapel dedicated to the Santissima Annunziata which, on the occasion of market days, hosted the celebration of mass.
Demolished in 1803, the chapel gave way to the fountain erected in 1824 and later embellished with lion heads from which water gushes. On the top stands the statue of a female figure in armor, representing Diana the Goddess of Hunt.
In front of the fountain you can admire the house of Paolo Diacono, a Lombard historian who lived in the eighth century, famous for having written HISTORIA LANGOBARDORUM, where he tells the story of his people; the work remained unfinished, but nonetheless it is very important as it is the only source that enlightens us over the 150 years of longobard history of Cividale.
The beautiful tower house where Paolo Diacono was born, has elegant pointed arched windows and a large central fresco depicting the Nativity, elaborate decorations and bas-reliefs.
To dive in the atmosphere of this square is simple, just sit in one of the many cafes that have tables out in the open and admire it in all its beauty.