Land of delightful traditions

The origins of San Daniele del Friuli date back to ancient times. Recent archaeological discoveries document the presence of man in the area since at least the IX century b.C. Tradition has it that the castrum Sancti Danielis was first built in 929, the year in which the Longobard Rodoaldo. Its strategic importance combined with frequent concessions and feudal prerogatives permitted a rapid and intense development of the place: the patriarch Godebaldo had already founded a public market there (the third after those in Aquileia and Cividale) which Pellegrino bound to the chapter of Aquileia in 1139. In 1309 the city was temporarily occupied by Rizzardo da Camino in agreement with the Count of Gorizia and then by Goriziano himself. It was re-conquered by the Udinesi in 135, who were succeeded soon after by the Austrian dukes. In 1401 it was part of the great league of Friuli feudatories defending the autonomy of the homeland and in 1420 was given over, as was the rest of Friuli, to Venetian dominion.

From 1445, with Aquileia, San Vito al Tagliamento and several other minor Friuli villages, it formed a small fiefdom granted by Venice, undoubtedly not without a specific raison d’etat, to the Aquileian prince, thus assuring this picturesque hill town social, cultural and economic prosperity. This last aspect was associated with the settlement and growth of a flourishing Jewish community. In the main square is the city cathedral dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo and built during the eighteenth century to the design of various architects. Inside, the works of Carlo da Carona (1510), G.A. Pordenone (1534), G.B. Tiepolo (XVIII century), Pomponio Amalteo (1549) and Vincenzo Lugaro (1625), among others, can be admired.

The adjoining bell-tower, begun in 1531 to a design by Giovanni da Udine, remained unfinished. Beside the church is the former town hall with its five-arched portico, the building of which commenced in 1415: it now contains the municipal archive - with documents dating back to XII - and the important Guarneriana Library The palace conserves inside it the fontaniniana hall, with the wooden bookcase built in 1743 by Andreoli to hold the valuable documentary heritage of another native of San Daniele, Mons. Giusto Fontanini. In front of the bell-tower is the oldest house in San Daniele, dating back to the fourteenth century. Where the castle once stood, the clear outline of palace Masetti-De Concina can now be admired, while from the clearing on the hill - where the ancient remains of a tower and earthworks can still be seen today - the visitor’s eye sweeps over surroundings of matchless natural beauty.

At the top of a flight of steps stands the mother-church of St. Daniele with the bell-tower made out of one of the towers of the castle. There were various gates opening from the city walls to give access to the ancient San Daniele: of these the Portonàt or “Tramontana gate”, designed in 1500 by Andrea Palladio has remained intact. Opposite the former town hall in via Garibaldi, once home of the Holy Knights’ Hospital of Sant’Antonio di Vienne, stands the church of Sant’Antonio Abate. It is now the home of the Town Council. San Daniele is however known best of all by food lovers. Its ham, the pride of the area for its delicate flavour given by the special curing enabled by the microclimate of the place and by the skills of the producers - who continue in earnest a tradition thousands of years old - is widely renowned at a worldwide level. Already sought-after and appreciated in the past for its “sweet and refined” flavour and unmistakable aroma, San Daniele ham is by tradition the pride and joy of the table and of good food.