A journey through 2200 years of history thanks to the production of 3D Produzioni and Sky Arte
Border land and hinge between east and west, with its port, the northernmost in the Mediterranean, Aquileia contains in its Roman-Byzantine, Lombard and patriarchal soul the breath, not always calm, of its 2200 years of history. However, for anyone who visits this important archaeological site in the province of Udine, with its priceless historical and artistic heritage, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1998, it is not always easy to imagine the city as it must have been in the past, considering the countless layers deposited by the different historical periods that have followed.
And this is why the documentary The Three Lives of Aquileia, a contribution of 3D Produzioni and Sky Arte, made in collaboration with the Aquileia Foundation chaired by Antonio Zanardi Landi and the Istituto Luce, which will be broadcast on Sky Arte, meets the visitor. Friday 22 November at 20.10. "We tried to make the stones talk to give the public the story of the whole city, sewing together very different places" explained the director Giovanni Piscaglia during the preview of the docufilm held at the Ara Pacis, where it is also in progress. until 1 December, the exhibition "Aquileia 2200. Gate of Rome towards the Balkans and the East".
The mission of the ducumentary - which will have a 25 minutes version, intended to welcome visitors and schools in Aquileia and a 3-minute trailer ready to travel around the world - is that, as explained by the director of Sky Arte, Roberto Pisoni, "to make available to the people something that does not taste of dust."
And in fact from the documentary, which browses through the different eras of the city thanks to the contribution of experts, following a chronological line, a living city emerges, in perfect balance between land and water, which finds the engine of its economic growth in the ancient Natisone river.
Born in 181 BC to defend the Empire from the peoples of the east, it soon became a cosmopolitan city, at the center of an ante litteram globalization thanks to its many colonists (Roman and Latin families, but also Oscan speaking, arrived from central Italy southern), to the different ethnic groups, to the identities in transit from that port where wine, skins, perfumes arrived, from Greece, Egypt and even China.
The inscriptions, the funerary monuments, the portraits that have arrived until today tell of men and women who contributed to making Aquileia a privileged place of encounter between different ideas, religions and cultures. A funerary relief with pressing scenes (II-III century AD) recalls, for example, how the production of wine was a distinctive feature of the city. Even the precious glass exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum, and the amber present in the funerary objects of the imperial age, show how much the North Adriatic area was, since prehistoric times, an important junction of the "Amber road". Ninth city of the Roman Empire, with its 50,000 inhabitants in the 4th century AD, a military outpost to safeguard the Empire and one of the most flourishing commercial ports on the Adriatic, Aquileia witnessed early Christianity, with bishops who embellished it of early Christian basilicas, still today caskets of sculptures, frescoes and mosaics that offer one of the highest examples in the world of medieval art. Aquileia also had the merit of having saved the fate of Rome and the Empire from the advance of the usurper Maximin the Thrace, who, aiming for the Eternal City in 238, found in the capital of the 10th Augustan region, always faithful to Senate, a mighty barrage.
However, the city did not have the same strength before Attila's arrival in 452: its walls gave way after three months of siege and night fell on Aquileia. And it is significant that after not long, in 476, the same fate would befall the Western Roman Empire. But history does not stop and after having been, in the fourth century, the fulcrum of the radiance of Christianity towards central and eastern Europe, Aquileia is preparing to become the largest metropolitan diocese on the continent. It was Bishop Theodore who promoted the construction of the largest episcopal complex in the West, the remains of which provide the greatest evidence of late Roman and nascent Christian art.
Today the episcopal basilica, with the mosaic remains of the Roman and early Christian periods that make Aquileia a sort of capital of the Western Roman mosaic, the Roman Forum, the River Port, and the precious finds preserved in the Paleochristian National Museum and in the National Archaeological Museum they deliver to the world a hotbed of history and beauty. Seat of the Patriarchate from 1077 to the Venetian conquest of 1420, Aquileia passed, 500 years later, under the Habsburg Empire to remain there until the First World War, when it will be the first Italian city to be reconquered. Precisely during the Great War, the former Roman colony that preserves the eagle coat of arms as a banner will become the symbol of the reconquest of Italy.
The first war cemetery had already been set up in 1915, just behind the patriarchal basilica. This is where the coffin of the Unknown Soldier - chosen by the mother of a missing soldier from among eleven bodies of unnamed soldiers - buried in the Vittoriano would have come, as the images of the Istituto Luce clearly document in the film. Today the city, which has only 3,500 inhabitants, continues to live in the black and white shots of the Friulian photographer Elio Ciol, which somewhat inherit the function of those epigraphs, busts, portraits handed down to us by history. The photographs of the master from Casarsa testify to the charm of an archeology that still continues to return its jewels, and intercept with the same poetics of cinematic neorealism that sense of grandeur and mystery emanating from streets and mosaics, jewels and sculptures, for 2200 years. to this part.