A walk into Aquileia becomes a journey into history, the history where the roots of our civilization are founded. The forum, the river port, the mosaics of the Roman houses and the ancient baths, the necropolis and the remains brought to light during all the excavation campaigns tell us about a time when this territory was the place where people and goods from all the Mediterranean would land, different religions and civilizations would coexist, glassware was skilfully manufactured, gems were masterfully carved, coins were minted. They tell us about a world in turmoil, of emperors visiting the city, of legions, of men and women living here two thousand years ago.
We at Fondazione Aquileia wish to give voice to the vestiges of the past, let these “stones” speak and tell everybody, and especially the new generations, about the value and importance of the cultural heritage of Aquileia.
The institution of Fondazione Aquileia in 2008 started a relaunch of the site, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of its acknowledgement as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2018. New important excavations have helped enhance and entirely regenerate the very heart of Aquileia, that is, the square before the Patriarchs’ Basilica, now comprising two new sites – the Südhalle and the Domus and Bishop’s Palace – where mosaics known only to the scholars before can now be admired by the general public. At the same time, we are continuing to work with the same approach – research, excavation, enhancement – on other archaeological areas (Fondo Cossar, river port, Fondo Cal).
Aquileia has taken on a leading position in the complicated cultural debate – not only in Italy – on the issue of the enhancement of cultural heritage, by offering concrete solutions, like in the sites of the Südhalle and the Domus and Bishop’s Palace. Also, the enhancement of the Südhalle was awarded with prestigious international prizes, including Premio Europa Nostra Awards, Premio della Triennale di Milano, Premio Piranesi Prix de Rome, on grounds of being a solution whereby the identity of the place and the whole surrounding scenario are fully respected.
At the same time, thanks to the new technologies, we have developed different platforms to communicate with a new language the symbolic venues of ancient Aquileia (3D reconstructions of the archaeological sites), which can now be seen and not only imagined (YouTube videos, app Antica Aquileia 3D).
In the latest years, we have passed the word to some important scientific experts, museum directors, and leading archaeologists we have invited to attend Aquileia Film Festival, the international festival of archaeological films, now at its nine year.
Keeping on the track of history and culture, we have started relations with the countries of the Mediterranean basin and the Balkans and developed the cycle of exhibitions named “Wounded Archaeology” to give back to Aquileia the role it deserves as a place capable of creating and keeping ties strong, of facilitating peaceful coexistence and sending a message of tolerance. To date, the exhibitions in the cycle have been “The Bardo Museum in Aquileia”, “Lions and Bulls from Ancient Persia in Aquileia” and “Portraits from Palmyra in Aquileia”. In 2018, we published a book with Allemandi publishing: “The Story of Jonah. In the mosaics of the Basilica of Aquileia”.
We believe that the richness and variety of the heritage of Aquileia, which encompasses sometimes unusual and prestigious domains, issues and situations, must not be a prerogative for the happy few, but must teach and inspire us all, as cultural heritage in general is constitutionally meant to do.