Language and culture

Friuli: history and culture

The history of Friuli has always been influenced by its geographical position, at the northernmost tip of the Mediterranean sea and at the Italian peninsula’s gate to the Far East. It is here that the three big harbour cities that shaped its destiny flourished: Aquileia, Venice and Trieste. On the east-west axis, its borders are more rooted in historic events than in geography. To the West, the border running along the Piave valley and the course of the Livenza river has remained unchanged for centuries, whilst to the East there have always been uncertainties, due to the mismatch between geographical, ethnical, socio-economic as well as political and military borders.
The growth of Friuli as a historical, political and cultural entity can be traced back to the Lombard period (6th-8th centuries).

A number of theories have been put forward to explain the development of the Friulian language; according to the most traditional theory, the language seems to have its origin from the influence of the Celtic substratum on the Latin language imported here by Roman settlers, and therefore it is over two thousand years’ old; whilst, according to other theories, the history of the language actually started one thousand years later, due to the effect of the isolation from the rest of Italy imposed by the Patriarchy.

In 1420 Friuli was conquered by Venice, with the exception of Cormòns, Gradisca and Gorizia. The vast majority of the population has always spoken Friulian, and there are literary documents written in that language which date back to as early as the 15th century. It is only in the 19th century that a strong and constant literary tradition begun and the language became the milestone of regional identity. After 1945 movements started with the objective of recognising the Friulian people as a linguistic minority, with the right to political and administrative autonomy as well as protection of their own language.
The last claim became more pressing starting from the ‘70s and only raised the awareness of institutions at the end of the last century.

Consult the materials

Object More
Geographical location: the generating axes
Ethnogenesis of Friuli
Glottogenesis of the friulian language
The friulian identity
The friulian flag

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