The area of valle and the longobard gastaldaga
The valley area in which the Monastery lies must have been a marginal area of Roman Cividale and it is still debated whether it was already included in the urban space from the outset.The most recent interpretations suggest that the area was right against the old town walls which came down here as far as the river, and close to an old gate, Porta Brossana, from which people could leave the town heading east. The area in which the Gastaldaga and the Monastery were built must therefore have been within the Roman town right from the start, but very little is known about the oldest presences. Although in the past it has been surmised that certain finds and structures belonged to the Roman period, there is nothing certain that can confirm the purpose for which this space was used at that time. The data brought to light by modern excavations in several parts of the Monastery do not allow us to confirm a clear presence in the Roman period, whereas they do indicate an important amount of human traffic developing not before the Late Roman period or Early Middle Ages, that is from the 6th century AD. The Valle area seems to have played a central role in the urban organisation of Cividale, starting in the Early Middle Ages, perhaps already under the Goths (early 6th century), and certainly during Longobard rule (late 6th to 8th century). Its nearness to one of the exits from the town helped increase the importance of the site, making it a suitable location for one of the centres of power in the town, according to a custom documented elsewhere in Italy under the Goths and Longobards. A diploma issued by Berengar I, king of Italy and then emperor between the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century, known thanks to a later copy, recalls that the seat of the royal Gastaldaga was situated in the place named Valle. So one of the nodal points of the town, the royal court or, rather, the seat of the royal Gastald, administrator of the royal demesne in Cividale and in the Duchy of Friuli, must have been situated in the very spot where the Monastery would later be built.