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Area:
  • 8,31 sq. km
Altitude:
  • 429 m a.s.l.
Population:
  • 641
Town Hall:
  • V. Giulio Cesare, 1
  • 33020 - Zuglio (UD)
Neighbourhoods:
  • Fielis, Formeaso, Sezza
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Map:

Zuglio is the ancient Iulium Carnicum, the Roman city founded a few dozen years before the Christian era to protect the busy via Iulia Augusta leading to the Noricum. Now simply a small province town (though it was also an Episcopal see), Zuglio still preserves the traces of its past splendour in the remains of the forum, an important work of Vitruvian dimensions (m 38,5×75), surrounded by porticoes with slender columns, ten on the shorter side, twenty-four on the longer. North of the forum there used to be a temple, while at the opposite end was a two-floor basilica. Also the remains of the baths and of a few houses were brought to light, confirming the city structure that Iulium Carnicum, a rich and active market place, had at the time. What its urban plan was like is still of uncertain definition, however, both as for its perimeter (the city was probably surrounded by walls) and for the street network and the location of many buildings. Most findings brought to light through the centuries (including an exquisite bronze portrait) were taken to the Museum of Cividale, while others are exhibited in the recently arrayed Civic Archaeological Museum housed in the 17th-century Palazzo Tommasi Leschiutta. Dominating the town and the valley from above is the Gothic church of S. Pietro di Carnia, reached by a smooth road (the last stretch must be covered on foot) winding among the luxurious vegetation, every now and then offering enchanting views of the surrounding Alpine landscape. Mentioned in documents since the 12th century (although a document of 808 already mentioned a religious building in the place), the church was mostly built in 1312 and rebuilt in the first thirty years of the 16th century. Inside, several works of art are remarkable, as the large Gothic wooden polyptych with sumptuous pinnacled crowning that was carved, painted and gilded by Domenico da Tolmezzo in 1481-1484. It holds eighteen statues in as many niches, arranged on three levels: four busts of Fathers of the Church in the lower level, an imposing St. Peter wearing pontifical robes surrounded by six Apostles in the central level, and the Virgin with Child and more Apostles in the top level. Unfortunately, about twenty years ago, the major fourteen statues were stolen, being recently replaced with faithful replicas by Michele Moro from Sutrio. Also the frescoes executed by Giulio Urbanis in 1582 are remarkable in the same church, portraying Evangelists, Prophets, Fathers of the Church and scenes from the Gospels. Every year, on Ascension Day, the ritual of the kissing of the crosses takes place in the church, a centuryold peculiar rite in which the crosses of many Carnic churches are decked with flags and taken to pay homage to the cross of the mother church bowing to it in a symbolic kiss. The triumph of colourful ribbons, white and red and deep blue, flapping and fluttering around in the crisp spring air, makes it a joyful event. In the church of S. Maria in Monte below, dating from the 15th century but remodelled in 1715, there are still frescoes by Giulio Urbanis (1582) and a quite good wooden triptych of Giovanni Martini’s school (ca. 1537). The churches of Formeaso, Fielis and Sezza contain good paintings by Nicola Grassi, who was born in Formeaso in 1682. Remarkable for their good patterns, the rich colour, the high technical skill in trait and the enticing settings are the paintings in Sezza, portraying Jacob and the rods and Rebecca at the well (ca. 1733), both subjects the Carnic painter loved and often used in his works.

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