Gemona del Friuli:
The name Gemona is first mentioned in historian Paul the Deacon’s Historia Langobardorum.
Castrum Glemonae was a castle fortified by the Longobards against the invading Avars, and was described as invincible.
Paul the Deacon’s toponym “Glemona” was nothing other than the Klemaun or Klemun of Germanic origin, Latinised by softening the K sound to G; the term “klemmen” (meaning to tighten) would indeed be appropriate for the place closing the plains at the foot of the Alps.
Valvasone’s opinion is that the name comes from the nearby mountain, Glimine, from the root klimmen (climb), perfectly appropriate for the site. Gemona was recognised as a community with special mercantile privileges in the late 12th century, and by the 14th century it had its own statutes.
The complete name Gemona del Friuli dates from 1935.
Map of Gemona del Friuli – 1770 From: Notizie di Gemona by G.G. Liruti – 1771
The domination of Venice, Napoleon and the Great War.
With the transition from the Patriarchate of Aquileia to Venetian domination (1420), the city’s economy suffered a slow but unstoppable decline, aggravated in the 18th and 19th century by the Napoleonic wars and by emigration. Not until the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, when Friuli was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy and a railway line was constructed from Udine to the border town of Pontebba, did Gemona see any signs of new growth.
But this revival was stopped by the Great War, and extinguished entirely in the autumn of 1917 with the invasion of the army of the Austro-Hungarian and German armies following the defeat at Caporetto. Growth did not resume in Gemona until after the end of the Second World War, when the economic boom of the 1960s led industries to expand well beyond regional confines, and even into the upper reaches of Friuli.
The “Friuli Model” redemption of Gemona and Gold Medal for Civil Valour
Hard struck by the earthquakes of May and September 1976, Gemona del Friuli became famous all over Italy and world-wide for reacting to the loss and destruction of the disaster with great strength, courage and determination.
Gemona become the “capital” of the extraordinary reconstruction of Friuli, setting an example with the people’s participation and the work of the institutions that came to be known as the “Friuli Model”, for which the city is now unanimously recognised as a symbol of rebirth following catastrophe.
Plenty of tourists, visitors, and history and nature buffs now come to Gemona del Friuli to discover the area’s historic and artistic heritage, events, gastronomic specialities and natural beauty.